You may have sacrificed a steady job to become the master of your professional destiny. Having entrepreneur motivation was easy, natural, and energizing in the beginning.
So, why are you struggling to stay motivated now when you need it most? Your business, after all, isn’t going to build itself.
Nearly everything in life experiences cycles. The solar system, hormones, your washing machine—and yes, even motivation. Movement is inherent in cycles. If you stop moving, your business simply grinds to a halt, and you may find yourself looking for a job after all.
The mere threat of stagnation should be enough to get your entrepreneur motivation mojo back online. If that’s not enough, here are eight ways for staying motivated as you build your business.
1. Recognize That Business Motivation Doesn’t Last on Its Own
Ironically, the first step in staying motivated is realizing that motivation doesn’t last—at least not without some effort. Think of the verbs associated with motivation, such as “incite,” “stimulate,” and “inspire.” They all speak to elevating something low.
Highs and lows, ebbs and flows, are all cyclical. There are days when you have so much you want to accomplish that you won’t have the hours. On others, you may struggle to even get dressed. As does every aspect of your business, motivation requires constant care and feeding. So, don’t despair during those times you feel bottomed out. Recall the almost manic thrill you get when your entrepreneur motivation seems to be unstoppable and concentrate on recapturing it.
Motivation neither just happens nor lasts. It takes focus, drive, and a conscious effort. When it lags, roll up your sleeves, choose a task, and get back to the business-building at hand.
2. Expand Your Network
No business or entrepreneur can operate in a bubble. Connection to customers, vendors, employees, and other entrepreneurs is vital to growing a business. It’s also motivational. I find that one of the things that makes me most energized about my business is the connections I make while networking.
Networking effectively is about give and take, which means you only get as good as you give. Be generous with your thoughts, ideas, and connections, and others will reciprocate.
These days, there are myriad networking channels to choose from. There are the tried-and-true conferences, industry and professional organizations, and even your local Chamber of Commerce. But the internet and social media have vastly expanded the opportunities to connect with other empire-building, ambitious people.
If you aren’t networking because you didn’t think it was worth your time, get out there. Not only will you pick up some great ideas, but you’ll also find yourself reinspired. Few things are as motivating as encountering other people’s enthusiasm for your business.
3. Focus on Your Goals
We all know that goals are important. If we fail to set them, how do we know when we have achieved something? In business, as in life, we need targets.
For me, having a goal focus is intrinsically motivational. Have you met all the business goals you set previously? Then, it’s time to set some new and even more ambitious ones than before.
Keep in mind that business goals can be moving targets, as circumstances change and reality sets in. What you must avoid is allowing yourself or your business to be paralyzed by indecision.
As Yogi Berra said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”
The mere exercise of setting goals is energizing, so use the process when you’re in a slump. Make sure you set realistic goals—neither too high nor too low. Once the big ones are in place, establish mileposts so you know your business is on the right path.
4. Stay True to Your Mission (or Find a New One)
Unlike goals, the mission of your business should not be a moving target. While a mission can and should be reassessed periodically, it must, nonetheless, remain a constant for a significant period of time. That’s because it should be driving everything you do.
The world changes quickly. Customers, technology, markets, workforces, and supply chains are in a constant state of flux. In my business, the challenge has always been to respond to change while remaining true to our mission. On this point, Jim Collins’ Hedgehog Concept is spot on.
According to Collins, your mission can be found at the intersection of three key truths about your enterprise:
- What you’re deeply passionate about
- What you can be best in the world at
- What drives your economic or resource engine
You should find motivation in the mission of your business. If you don’t, perhaps you aren’t passionate about it, can’t be the best in the world at it, or aren’t making money delivering it. If that’s the case, find a mission that intersects, and you’ll rediscover your entrepreneur motivation.
5. Celebrate Wins and Learn From Losses
Too many times, business owners fail to celebrate wins and learn from losses. That’s unfortunate because both wins and losses are two well-known secrets of entrepreneur motivation. If you aren’t treating them as the motivators they are, you should be.
Go back to those goals you set when you started your business. Have you achieved them?
If you did, have you taken the time to celebrate those wins with your stakeholders? If you haven’t reached them, figure out why, make adjustments, and try to turn them into wins. Wallowing in losses instead of learning from them and moving on is a sure way to lose motivation.
Don’t forget to celebrate the small wins as well. In my company, we ring a gong every time we land a new client so the small victory reverberates through the office. Doing this builds our confidence, generates enthusiasm, and motivates our team to aim higher. I recommend finding your own way to acknowledge the small wins that are necessary to achieve those major victories your business needs to flourish.
When a lack of motivation sets in, take stock of everything you have accomplished. Pat yourself on the back and bask in the glow of achievement. That pause may be all you need to motivate you to achieve more success.
6. Identify Your Disruptive Powers
When you launched your business, were you just joining the pack? Or did you want to fill a gaping, empty market niche? Odds are, you believed you had a solution to a problem that no other business was figuring out.
Take Uber, Netflix, and Blue Apron. They disrupted the taxi, movie, and food industries by putting a revolutionary spin on the traditional way of doing business. In doing so, they solved problems the market wasn’t even aware it had.
The business you’re building may not be the next Tesla, but that doesn’t mean it can’t disrupt an industry, a sector, or just your local business community. You might discover a new customer service paradigm or a way to use technology that no one else has.
You can’t be innovative without being motivated, and if you aren’t motivated, your business will only achieve the status quo. So, start imagining ways you can disrupt your industry to kickstart your motivation. Even little ripples can turn into serious waves.
7. Spend Some Time Away
Building a business is exhausting during normal times. Throw in the stress and radical changes accompanying a global pandemic, and life can become overwhelming. This can lead to depression, indecision, paralysis, or even sheer panic.
You can’t control the world, but you can control your response to what’s happening. Start by stopping your attempts to do it all and set some priorities instead. When overwhelmed with life, one of those priorities must be yourself.
Spend some time away from work to recharge. A bit of respite is the only way you can replace the energy and inspiration sapped by a turbulent world. Work to overcome the feeling that your business can’t run without you, especially when your lack of motivation isn’t doing it any favors anyway.
A little rest and relaxation may be all you need to return to the office reinvigorated. If your break involves travel, exposure to different places and cultures might even spark new trains of thought. You will be motivated to pick up where you left off and get back to growing your business.
8. Remain Customer-Centric
Whatever widget or widget service you sell, you have customers. Your lack of motivation does a disservice to a market looking to your business for solutions. When your business motivation wanes, think of those customers counting on you to succeed.
Keeping your eye on your customers isn’t a distraction from building your business. The most successful companies in the world are extremely customer-centric. Think about Apple’s uncanny ability to anticipate customer needs or Google’s cloud-based growth stemming from empathy for the challenges facing their customers.
Perhaps, there is a relationship between your lack of motivation and customer neglect. Remaining vigilant about their needs will determine whether or not your business is successful. To conduct surveys, read customer reviews, and do market research to discover those needs. After all, if you aren’t solving their problems, what are you doing?
When the noise from the daily demands of running a business gets too loud, tune it out. Listen to what your customers are saying about you and what they’re asking for. Responding to them will require focus, as you are motivated by your dream to build a successful business.
Motivation is movement, action—a driving force of human nature. Although it waxes and wanes as naturally as the lunar cycle, restoring business motivation can require a concentrated effort. It’s an effort you’ll want to make because a prolonged lack of motivation is deadly.
If you lack the motivation to eat, you starve. If you lack the motivation to drive in your lane, you crash. If you lack the motivation to build your business, you fail.
You are obviously a highly motivated individual. If you weren’t, you never would have started a business of your own. Entrepreneurs are, at their cores, a rare and uniquely inspired breed.
So, when your entrepreneur motivation flatlines, don’t give up. Whether the spark comes from a personal connection, a new goal, a brief vacation, or a customer comment, there are ways to get yourself back on the business-building track again.