Owning and operating a small business takes a certain kind of person. Not only does a small business’s leader need to have a lot of energy and focus, they also need to maintain their motivation and drive. Otherwise, everything will fall apart. But staying motivated isn’t as simple as most people think.
You must have a reason to get up in the morning, a reason that’s something more than figures in a bank account. If you try to make money your primary motivator, chances are you’re going to run out of steam sooner rather than later, and losing your drive could be detrimental to your business and everything you’ve worked for.
So today, let’s take a closer look at the best ways to stay motivated.
Set Manageable, Incrementing Goals
As the old saying goes, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. To stay motivated, you have to set yourself up to win instead of trying to tackle a mammoth challenge all at once. If you set your goals too high and fail, you’re going to crush your motivation in a heartbeat. Instead, plan out a road map and break your goals down into small, achievable pieces.
In addition, note that you need to actually write (or type) your goals down. If you don’t want to write them out by hand, record them in a spreadsheet like Google Sheets. Writing goals down not only helps you remember how you’ll achieve your goal, but also play a part in keeping you motivated.
Set A Deadline and Hold Yourself to It
It’s not enough to merely set a goal – you also must set a deadline and force yourself to meet it. If you write down your goals without a deadline, you can fall victim to procrastination and the “I’ll do it tomorrow” attitude, but tomorrow never comes. Yet again, remember to make your deadlines reasonable.
For instance, if you’re writing a book, don’t pretend that you write half of it within two weeks. It’s good to be ambitious, but for the sake of protecting your motivation, be practical and pragmatic.
Write Down Your Reason for Working
Why get up in the morning? Why work at all? Is it just for money, or do you have other reasons for living? In addition to setting appropriate goals and deadlines, you also need to write down your reasons for running your business. Maybe you’re saving for your daughter to go to college, or maybe you want your beachfront dream home in Maui.
Whatever reasons you have for working are the core of your motivation, and you need to remind yourself daily what those reasons are. Furthermore, you need to visualize them too. Take a minute or two out of your busy schedule to visualize your future in your mind, and then consider each daily goal that acts as a stepping stone towards that future.
Prune Negative Team Members
Your mental attitude has a massive bearing on your results in life. Adopting a positive mental attitude not only helps leaders stay motivated, but it also increases the likelihood of success. Sadly, some people, for a large variety of reasons, are incredibly negative. And negativity can act as a headwind that slows you down and makes challenges that much more difficult.
Unfortunately, if one individual’s negativity is poisoning the motivation and energy of the rest of your team (including yourself), it may be time to let that person go. Before making a final decision, however, it’s worth taking the time to communicate with them, try to find out why they’re so unhappy, and trying to find a solution to change things around.
As some of you may remember from the iconic scene in The Shining, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Human beings simply can’t work 24 hours a day, even if you are the most motivated person in the world. We have circadian rhythms, and go through daily cycles. As such, you need to reward yourself when you hit your goals.
Having a treat to look forward to upon completion of your task is a great way to maintain motivation. If you have a sweet tooth, perhaps your treat is a piece of decadent dark chocolate. If you’re a bookworm, maybe your treat is knocking out a few chapters of your favorite novel to calm down after a stressful day.
When there’s a lot on your plate, it’s easy to get caught up in the go-go-go mentality. Moving from one task to the next sure does make the day fly by, but it also builds up stress and anxiety, which can have negative health effects like higher blood pressure. You need to intentionally reserve time to calm down and take a break.
Some people swear by a quick 15 or 30-minute power nap in the middle of the day. Others prefer meditation or yoga, while others like to do nothing more than take a break and eat a snack. Whatever you prefer, you need to find a way to unwind, your head might explode and your motivation might vanish.
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Though many small business owners are self-motivated and prefer to do things on their own, know that no one can do everything by themselves. Plus, having a colleague or team to share the burden and work towards the same goal can be motivating, turning an otherwise boring and mundane task into an energized team effort.
Even the most introverted humans are gregarious creatures by nature – no one enjoys complete isolation. So reach out for help if you feel like a task is too big to manage on your own.
Small business owners typically lose motivation because they have so much on their plate to deal with. Instead of risking losing steam, start building a team. Find a person to start taking a few things of your plate. Not doing so when the work is there equates to fewer customers, lost opportunities, and lower revenues.