Maintaining motivation in business: Tips for small business owners
Summoning the motivation to start a business is one thing, but keeping it up is quite another. We've worked with the The Forum of Private Business (FPB) to bring you some tips on sustaining your efforts for the long haul.
Few things can match the excitement and enthusiasm you have when you first start your own business.
But when business is slow, or during busy periods, it can be difficult to stay motivated to run your business.
Our tips for small business owners will help you to stay on track and keep those energy levels topped up.
Small business motivation challenges
Small business owners encounter inevitable day-to-day challenges, from keeping on top of the finances, orders, managing customers and suppliers, to marketing, planning and strategy. The importance of maintaining motivation in business cannot be underestimated, particularly if you are responsible for the bulk of – or even all of – the above areas. So how do you keep motivated during slow points or when you're feeling overwhelmed?
The importance of motivation in business
When you're running a small enterprise, maintaining motivation in business is really important. The energy you put into your work is what yields the results you're looking for.
There are plenty of things you can do to inspire fresh motivation over the course of your business, from getting a mentor whose experience you can draw upon, to listening to what your customers have to say and taking inspiration from their feedback. Doubtless there will be times when your motivation will slump, which is why having steps in place to pull you out of those times can be both helpful and practical.
Ways to stay motivated
Below are some helpful ways to maintain motivation when you're running a small businesses.
Set routines and goals
Small business motivation is helped enormously by establishing a routine. Good planning actually enables you to factor in the time you need for creative thinking about ways to streamline or evolve your enterprise. If you're struggling to keep on top of the basics like bookkeeping then you can quickly run out of steam. Setting aside time to plan ahead and create fresh goals and rise to new challenges helps you to maintain momentum.
Focus on achievable goals
Staying motivated in business means being realistic about your goals. If you set a goal that is unattainable and then fall short of it, it's easy to feel deflated. Instead, make sure targets are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed. If your targets meet these criteria then the chances are they are attainable and your accomplishments will inspire you to set yourself the next challenge.
Seek small business inspiration by mingling with others. There will be professionals in your field who have experienced similar challenges and their experience and ideas might be very beneficial. If you run a solo enterprise then there are plenty of benefits to be had by engaging the support of a mentor or sharing insights with peers.
There's no need to exist in a vacuum when a number of people have useful experience in your field to draw upon. You can also benefit from the camaraderie of joining a small business enterprise group locally, or maybe even setting up an association or meet-up yourself.
Don't overdo it
Go easy on yourself. While your business might be your baby, there's no reason it should demand as much of your down time as a newborn might. Allow yourself the time off to recover if you do become ill and plan for those periods accordingly. It may be that you need to draw on the support of others to keep things ticking over if you are in the unfortunate position of becoming unwell.
The temptation is to power through in spite of illness, but be aware that this resilience might have a more damaging impact on your health and wellbeing in the longer term. Give yourself regular breaks, allow time out for leisure, factor in holidays and periods of respite, and make all this part of your business planning to avoid burn-out, which is the sure-fire way to damage motivation longer term.
Keep work and play separate
Managing your own business is nothing if not hard work, which is why you can keep motivation levels high by giving yourself some well-deserved moments of reward for what you've already achieved – which is not insignificant.
Remember to distinguish between work and play and to establish boundaries. While it's increasingly common for people who run their own business to operate in a blended work/life scenario, don't allow yourself to minimise the importance of having fun too. Acknowledge and celebrate achievements – a new customer, a client win, a successful project, an award - and keep other aspects of your life fulsome with enough room for play.