Motivation is a peculiar thing. It's intangible, yet it affects every aspect of your business (for better or worse). When you're an employee, there are systems in place to keep you motivated. But when you're the head honcho, it can be difficult to stay motivated through the slow/rough times. Is there a secret to staying the course?
How to stay motivated through a rough patch
There are a lot of people who are extremely talented and have valuable skillsets, but very few of these individuals end up being successful entrepreneurs. That's because it takes more than talent or skill to build, grow and sustain a business. The vast majority of entrepreneurship is mental. Unless you learn how to handle the intangible aspects of entrepreneurship, success will elude you.
One of the most significant mental challenges is the issue of motivation, especially during slow or tumultuous times. If you find yourself struggling to move forward, you'll need to get a grip. Here are a few specific ways you can stay motivated when times get tough:
1. Find your desire
It's impossible to stay motivated as an entrepreneur if you don't understand your desire. And we aren't talking about the desire to make money – everyone wants to be wealthy. What is your true desire? It could be the desire to give your kids a better life than you had, or to buy your parents a home. Maybe it's the desire to travel the world and not worry about the cost. Perhaps you want to retire at 40 so that you can coach your kids in sports.
Motivation without desire is hollow. You might think you're motivated, but you're faking it. Once you discover your desire, you won't have any trouble moving forward – even during rough patches.
2. Set a personal mission statement
Every business has a mission statement or set of core values. These serve as signposts to help the company find their way when things seem chaotic. They provide direction and motivation; for these exact reasons, you need a personal mission statement.
It might sound like something a motivational guru would tell you to do at a self-improvement conference, but a personal mission statement provides a number of real-world benefits. First, it forces you to be honest with yourself and articulate what you're doing with your career. Second, it provides you with a quick, practical reminder when you lose your way.
A personal mission statement should be no longer than one or two sentences and needs to touch on the "why" not the "what." Here are a few personal mission statements from successful entrepreneurs and business owners.
- Oprah Winfrey: "To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be."
- Denise Morrison: "To serve as a leader, live a balanced life and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference."
- Amanda Steinberg: "To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net worth of women around the world."
3. Identify checkpoints for goals
The problem many entrepreneurs encounter is not that they fail to set goals, but that the objectives they set are too far in the future. While there's nothing wrong with setting a goal that's three, five or 10 years out, it's easy to lose focus when there's a huge gap between the work and the results.
One thing you can do to stay motivated is to identify checkpoints for goals. In other words, if you're currently doing $100,000 in annual revenue and your goal is to do $1 million 2021, it’s smart to break that objective down into digestible chunks. To keep yourself on track, you might set smaller goals of doing $200,000 in 2018, $450,000 in 2019 and $750,000 in 2020.
4. Surround yourself with the right people
Entrepreneurship can be isolating at times, but you don't have to struggle through the rough periods alone. One of the best things you can do for yourself – at least in terms of motivation – is to surround yourself with the right people. These should be people who know how to pick you up when you're down – people who can speak truth into your life.
When you have a support group around you, your failures and rough patches don't seem nearly so hopeless. Now is the time to work on building these relationships.
There's no such thing as easy
We live in a culture where people are blinded by immediate results. There's instant coffee, movies on demand, fast food drive-thru windows, high-speed internet and amusement park fast passes. If you want something now, all you have to do is spend a few bucks. Unfortunately, people carry this idea into the business world where success is anything but instant or easy.
The reality is that it takes a lot of hard work, patience and time to experience success – and it often comes and goes in cycles. This intermittent nature of success can be too much for some entrepreneurs to handle.
It doesn't take much to be motivated when things are going well. But how will you respond when you go through a rough patch? As your energy slips, will you stay the course and continue striving toward your goals?
If nothing else, hopefully, this article will at least make you think about your situation and understand that business, success and entrepreneurship are all very cyclical. You can't always control the outcome, but you can be mentally prepared for whatever life throws your way.