How to stay motivated as a small business owner - 7 proven techniques
Running a small business is not for the faint hearted. Attending to day-to-day operation of the business, coping with financial pressures, motivating others, and all the while trying to maintain your own passion and purpose.
It's a good thing you've got a great boss who loves what you do and knows that you're good at!
But during those times when you feel more worn out than inspired, how can you replenish your desire to stand up for the next round and conquer the world (or your little corner of it)?
Firstly, reward yourself with a break
A survey of 515 small business owners by Xero found that 57% had not taken a holiday for more than a year, while 23% were without a break in two years.
Ignoring the signs of stress and overload are detrimental to your health, and to your business. Book that holiday you've been dreaming of, or schedule time out to indulge in activities that inspire and renew you.
If you can't get out of the office for a holiday right now, at least take a minibreak each day at lunchtime.
Research shows that taking a lunch break:
- helps you concentrate
- relaxes you
- improves your memory
- increases your attention span
- boosts your creativity.
Can't think of how to spend your lunch hour? Here are seven ways to make lunchtime good for the body, mind and soul.
Get back in touch with why you're doing what you're doing
Bring clarity to your thinking by revisiting your business strategy, purpose and vision since they underpin everything that you do.
Losing perspective can be a major motivation issue. Go back to the real, "Why did I set up my business in the first place?".
When you remember that it's about more than just paying the bills or getting rich it will reignite your enthusiasm.
Re-evaluate your goals
It's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture while you're head down in the detail. But there's merit in putting time aside to check in with your goals.
So, once you're clear again on the answer to, "Why am I in business?", reaffirm that you're still moving in the right direction, and update your goals to align with new products or services, advancements in technology, industry changes and forecasts.
Give your motivation a daily workout
If you are wondering where the excitement you had when you started your small business has gone, rest assured it hasn't wandered far. It just needs your inner drill sergeant to pull it back into rank and file now and again.
As Zig Ziglar says, 'People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing that's why we recommend it daily.'
Motivation is a continuous practice a combination of fuelling your fire daily and employing processes, technologies and people that enable you to operate at your best.
Create an action plan
A great way to get your enthusiasm moving again and snowballing into an unstoppable force is to break goals down into bite-sized chunks.
Use sticky notes to capture every activity within a goal, and move them onto a weekly grid in the order they need to be actioned.
And if you find yourself putting things off until later, try these procrastination-busting techniques
Weekly victories will spur you on, especially if you reward yourself for accomplishing a goal or maintaining a good habit. 'A goal without a plan is just a wish.'
Organise your mornings
Constantly chasing the day and feeling overwhelmed is exhausting. Establish a set routine to give your day structure, and an early start to make the most of the quiet hours.
Write a to-do list at the end of each day, so you know the priorities for tomorrow. Block out time in your calendar or set reminders to stay on track with your weekly goals.
'The most important ritual in your life is what time you choose to get out of bed, and the best decision you can make is to get up earlier. This will allow you to attack your number one priority first thing in the morning.' - Craig Ballantyne
Shake things up for renewed inspiration
While a change may not be as fun as a holiday, it can be just as effective. Kick complacency into touch by engaging in something new. For example:
- Begin positive thinking and visualisation rituals, or find a daily mantra to start each day with
- Get inspired by others speak with a mentor, join a peer group, or listen to motivational speakers
- Do something completely outside your comfort zone
- Change your work environment for a fresh approach
- Go out of your way to motivate others - it will almost certainly motivate you as well
- Commit to checking in with a coach, as a way of staying accountable
- Employ new blood - passionate, self-motivating, energetic, positive thinking people to support you
6 things you can do right now for fresh motivation
Looking for some simple actions to boost momentum, starting today?
- Pin your business purpose and vision statements up for everyone to see
- Write down the positives to running your own business - like independence, satisfaction, freedom
- Read 'The Perfect Day Formula' (by Craig Ballantyne)
- Adopt some Agile project management techniques for better productivity
- Think back to challenges you overcame in the past and how sweet the success was
- Keep affirmations where you can see them a quote or picture that helps you stay positive
Most of all, it's important to remember that there will always be flat patches as a business owner. Take responsibility for your own attitude. Remember why you love what you're doing and surround yourself with people and activities that sustain your passion.