Let’s face it; there will be some days for a small business owner where your motivation deserts you.
It’s not surprising. After all, running your own small business is a tough gig.
A lot of the time, it’s gratifying, being your own boss, taking charge of your own future and creating something you’re passionate about, and this is why you’re doing it.
However, there are also times when you feel the stresses and strains of being a small business owner, particularly when something goes wrong, for example when existing customers disappear and the sales pipeline drys up. What you do know is the buck stops with you, which can be a scary, demotivating place to be. Lonely too and maybe this is why even small business owners have a mentor or a business coach!
Even when things are going well, it’s easy to lose motivation. Being tired, stressed, or just out of ideas – it’s hard to find the positives and focus on the brighter side of being your own boss.
It’s all well and good to say “think positive”, but when you’ve lost motivation for what you do, it can be tricky to pull yourself out of all the negativity going on in your mind.
What’s more, if this is your first business, and it’s the first time you’ve had no one telling you what to do or how to do it, then motivating yourself can be tough.
How To Get Your Mojo Back
If you’re a small business owner struggling to motivate yourself for any reason, don’t worry; you’re not alone. Read on for our 9 simple steps to ramping up your motivation so your small business can be a success.
First of all, don’t panic. Plenty of other entrepreneurs have been in your shoes and struggled to get motivated when running their business venture. There are things you can do to motivate yourself without having to rely on a boss to dangle a reward in front of you or set some inspiring goals.
Below are nine simple ways to motivate yourself when running your own small business. These are all things that you can do yourself, although it’s great to have the support of family and friends. If you’ve found yourself staring into the abyss because you’ve lost all drive, wondering what made you start your business in the first place, these tips will help you get back on track.
1. Find you “why.”
Why did you start your business in the first place? Chances are it wasn’t just to pay the mortgage. Money is actually a surprisingly poor motivator. Daniel Pink, the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, talks about this when explaining the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
Carrot and stick style
Extrinsic motivation is the carrot and stick style of motivation. Do well, and you get rewarded with higher pay. Make a mistake, get punished.
Intrinsic motivation happens when you are driven by internal rewards — for example, creating a blog about your company’s latest success because you love writing. Studies have found that intrinsic motivation is better for creativity and innovation.
If the “why” behind starting your company wasn’t to become a millionaire (although that would be an excellent outcome), then what is it?
Most people start a business in an industry that they’re excited about. That said, it can be all too easy to lose focus on why you were passionate about your business in the first place, especially when it takes up so much of your life.
Simon Sinek, the author of Start With Why, had this problem when running his own small business.
In this video, he discusses the importance of finding the “why” behind what you do and feeling inspired to go to work each day — finding your ‘why’ can restore your passion, even if you’ve lost it.
Try to remember what made you start your business in the first place. Was it so you could become your own boss? Because you have a product that you believe in?
Ask yourself, “What excites or inspires me?” The answer to this may have changed since you first set up your business. What are you best at, and do you enjoy it? Where do you add the most value? These are all questions that can help you rediscover your purpose.
2. Write down your business mission statement
A good business mission statement should be clear, inspiring and easy to understand. It will remind you and your team of your company’s vision, direction and future. It’s also another great way to remind you and your employees of your company’s purpose, which we already know is a great motivator.
A powerful mission statement also helps drive employee engagement and gives them a view of the bigger picture. An example of an inspiring mission statement is TED: Spread ideas. It’s simple and to the point. It reflects the company’s mission in sharing short but inspiring talks via free videos.
The mission statement should be accessible for everyone involved in your business, so they can see it and regularly check it. You should also include it in your business plan.
There is a lot of content online to help you craft your business plan for example a business plan template and tips blog post by online accounting solutions firm ember.co. It’s a step-by-step guide that is easy to read and will make light work of getting your business plan on paper.
3. Write down your short term and long term goals
If you have nothing to shoot for, then you’ll struggle to motivate yourself. Conversely, if you set unattainable targets, you’re setting yourself up for failure, which is incredibly demotivating.
Set yourself short term and long term goals that will challenge you but are also realistic.
Revaluate your goals regularly to keep them aligned with your business as it evolves. If you need help setting goals, you can use the SMART goal setting technique. Just remember that SMART goals are:
- Specific – clearly defined
- Measurable – you know when you’ve reached the goal
- Achievable – doable but not so easy there’s no need to have the goal
- Relevant – your business benefits from reaching the goal
- Time-bound – date the goal needs to be achieved
If your long term goals feel too big, try breaking them down into small, actionable steps that you can take each day or each week to keep you on the right track.
4. Set time aside for rest
As the whole business rests on your shoulders, you probably don’t make time for rest. This is a false economy, as this could lead to burnout.
According to one study looking at the startup community, 50% suffered from burnout, so this is a very real problem for business owners.
That’s why it’s so vital to take regular breaks for rest. Book time off, and when you do leave the office, switch on the out-of-office autoreply and don’t be tempted to answer emails while you’re away.
If you have a team working for you, trust them to handle things in your absence. Delegate work to them, and confirm that they know what they’re doing before you leave so you can relax on your holiday.
If you’re working remotely, it can be hard to create boundaries between work and home.
At the close of your workday, turn off your computer and do something completely different so that you can switch off and distance yourself from your job.
If you find it hard not to answer emails when your phone constantly pings notifications at you, there is a simple solution. Turn them off!
5. Ask for help if and when you need it
There’s no shame in asking for help when you’re struggling. Reach out to family or friends. Connect with a mentor or join an entrepreneur group online to ask for advice.
If you’re unsure about handling certain aspects of your business, like legal or tax, then ask an expert for help.
Don’t soldier on just because you think you should. For example, few small business owners excel at accounts, so if you’re not an accountancy expert, don’t stress yourself out by handling all the accounting.
Plenty of small businesses use 3rd party accounting services to help them manage their taxes, leaving them to get on with running the industry they love.
6. Talk to other entrepreneurs
If you’re struggling to motivate yourself, other small business owners will understand what you’re going through.
Build your support groups of entrepreneurs. Join entrepreneur groups online to find people you can share experiences with and ask for advice.
7. Talk about your mistakes
When you make a mistake, it’s natural to feel bad about it, even ashamed. By talking openly about your mistakes, you can take the sting out of them and even turn them into motivators.
Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, talk about what you would do differently next time.