How to Stay Motivated as a Small Business Owner
Running a small business is a challenge, but an even greater challenge almost all small business owners face is staying motivated. You're motivated enough to start your business – you have a great service, product, or idea, but what keeps you going each day? How do you know what to do, how to do it, and how to keep working towards your goals?
Emotional and mental fuel can sometimes run low and keep you from moving your business goals forwards. It's natural to get stuck or feel low on motivation, so read on for some tips and nuggets of advice from other successful small business owners.
Find out how other small business owners stay motivated to keep growing their business in our follow-up article, How To Regain Focus & Drive Business Success.
Create or Find Your Clarity
The most important thing you can do to feel good about yourself and your business is to have a clear strategy, purpose, and vision. Motivation comes from knowing why you are passionate about your business. Knowing what drives your determination to get up in the morning and make things happen is key.
The advice Mark Aselstine, Founder of Uncorked Ventures offers is, "I always remind myself what life looks like not only for me but my entire family if my small business closes. Right now my kids are going to be 'learning' from home until at least October. If I didn't own a small business what would their lives look like? Likewise, my wife is a high school counselor with summers off and our trips even with young kids are epic. Working a regular job, could I take 2 weeks off to take a road trip to Seattle? Probably not. That's my motivation. My life and my family are better with my small business working and working well."
For Brett Prentiss, Co-Founder of Instinct Marketing, motivation looks a little different.
"How I stay motivated as a small business owner is realising there is a path to success. I remind myself constantly why I do what I do. I truly believe that my purpose is to help bring people to their greatest potential. As I grow, I know I will be able to make more and more people even happier.
"I also focus on my journey – what I have sacrificed and the effort I have put in to make Instinct Marketing successful. It fuels my drive and passion even more to succeed."
Adapt and Evolve
Businesses have many highs and lows, which can be mentally draining or make small business owners feel stuck. After putting so much into your business, it can be a hard pill to swallow when something doesn't go as planned or work out favuorably for the business. So how do you get past it and turn it into motivation?
Benjamin K. Walker, Founder & CEO of Transcription Outsourcing LLC. says, "You are supposed to stay motivated and on top of every little thing 24/7, and that's where it can become very challenging. The trick is to become less emotional about it, at least that's what works for me when I need to buckle down and make sure everything gets done.
"If you let those ebs and flows of good things or bad things take up too much space in your brain, it won't be long before your business is really struggling. I used to let things like losing a great employee or client really get me down, but now I do my best to take it all in, learn from it, and move on as quickly as possible. It doesn't do me any good to dwell on the past or keep rehashing what happened and what went wrong."
Feed Off of Others
Self-motivation is difficult for people of all ages and walks of life. It's a hard thing to just "turn on" when you're running low. But feeding off the motivation of others can offer more support than you may realise.
According to Robert Longley of IntuAction, "In addition to the connections we have with our clients, we need to connect with others who are in the same boat. We don't necessarily need to connect based on geography or market focus. Small business owners share a lot of the same issues regardless of what industry they are in, or where they are. If you are alone on your business island, make the effort to reach out. You will find that you aren't alone, and you will learn from people even if they are in different businesses."
There are a number of places you can meet like-minded small business owners such as through LinkedIn and Facebook groups. In an effort to help connect small business owners, Online Labels has created a Small Business Community Facebook group where you can meet others facing similar situations and gain motivation while you broaden your networking circle.
Melanie Hartmann, owner of Creo Home Buyers is also a fan of networking to inspire motivation.
"Networking with other small business owners, particularly those in the same or similar field can be quite beneficial. It helps to 'compare notes' on what's working and what's not. Through these relationships, you also find those with whom you can celebrate each other's successes while also commiserating on the challenges that come with running a business."
Never Stop Learning
There are other ways to glean motivation from others, such as watching interviews, listening to podcasts by small business owners, or reading.
For Prentiss, "Learning something new every day is what also keeps me fresh and engaged in my business. I crave the educational piece of digital marketing. While I learn each and every day I can also pass along that knowledge to other small business owners and become an asset in any room because of it."
Self-help books are one way Derek Lenze, Founder of Floating Authority stays motivated.
"As a small business owner, I know first-hand how hard it can be to stay inspired during rough patches but over the years, I have developed one habit that helps me. When I feel that the tank is 'low' on the good-old inspiration meter, I usually take an hour and read business and self-improvement books. You would be amazed how much reading some literature from people who have gone through similar obstacles that you have and ended up succeeding can boost your confidence.
"A book that I have read lately is Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill. In the book, he shares tales of some of the most famous people having to go through setback after setback but still pushing through and succeeding. It also teaches you that perseverance is one of the most important lessons you get out of your business and keeping faith is paramount to having success. I was never a big reader growing up but now that I've started to dive into these books it has definitely helped with my confidence in many areas of my life."
"Age may wrinkle the skin, but a lack of enthusiasm will wrinkle the soul."
— Brett Prentiss, Co-Founder of Instinct Marketing
Inspiration in small business can be something that quickly fades, but if you love what you do and learn to keep persisting, you can accomplish great things.
If you're struggling with keeping your motivation levels high, you can see that you're far from alone. Try out some of the tips above offered by other small business owners and don't forget to join a small business group or reach out to your circle for support.
You may also want to read through our second motivational deep-dive – How To Regain Focus & Drive Business Success.