Monday, November 18, 2013

Motivation for the Small Business Owner

Image by Stefany
As a small business owner, specifically a sole proprietor, it can be hard to stay motivated. As the business owner, there is no one to tell you what you must do. There is also no one there to encourage your ideas or reward your efforts. You are responsible for your own motivation.

Motivation is often one of the first casualties of owning your own business. As a new entrepreneur there is a lot of excitement about how great your product is and how everyone will want it. When the reality of sales, marketing and paperwork set in it can kill your motivation quickly.

 Smart planning will help you to minimize or avoid some things that will demotivate you. Having a strategy to deal with the inevitable times that your motivation wanes will also help to keep you from throwing in the towel on your dream.

Here are a few tips for finding your motivation once you've been discouraged.

  1. Leap of Faith - Logic tells us to not put all of our eggs in one basket. Human nature tells us that if we do, we will be much more likely to guard that basket then if we know there is another basket. The same is true with entrepreneurs. I once attended a talk given by Anne Geddes, where she talked about her start in photography. She and her husband quit their jobs to sell calendars that she made door to door. There was no back up plan, her career as a photographer was the only income - so it had to work. Many successful people have utilized this type of motivation either because of circumstance or choice to create a need for them to succeed. 
  2. Find the Positive - It can be hard to see the positive when you are looking at low sales numbers, increasing expenses or upset customers. Make a point for find the positive. I make a point everyday to stop and play the Glad Game. I was first introduced to the game while watching the movie Pollyanna, starring Haley Mills. In it the character Pollyanna explains that there is always something to be glad about, even if its just to be glad that she didn't actually need the crutches that were mistakenly sent to her instead of the doll she wanted. There is an element of happiness in every situation. Even if it's just realizing that this will be something that you will laugh about later. Finding the happiness or gladness of a day or situation can be enough to encourage you to continue on to the next day. 
  3. Relax, Reflect and Reconnect - Friends and family can be great motivators but small business owners never seem to have time to be with them. The nature of owning your own business is that you are always working because if your not working then your business is closed. Unfortunately, that mindset leads to stress, fatigue and burnout because you never have a chance to take a step back and see the big picture. Customers expect small business owners to take time off periodically. Whether it's not working on Sunday or taking a week during the holidays, your need to plan a break. A time where the business is not in the for front of your mind, where you can hold your loved ones, laugh with your friends, and put your life as a whole back into perspective. If you really can't manage some time away then make the time everyday to detox from your work. It's not as hard as you might think. 
  4. Attend a Conference or Networking Event - Every major industry has an organization or conference available where you can learn about the latest and greatest in your field. There are often workshops, demos of new products and networking socials which can help you to remember why you wanted to be in this business to begin with. It can also help you to refocus your business plan for changes in the industry or to better serve your clients. I love to attend conferences, even ones outside of my industry, because I love to see how new products and services can be used within my industry. I find that I always come home more motivated and ready to tackle the challenges that I face as a small business owner. 
What are some ways that you stay motivated? Share your answers in the comments.