How to stay motivated as a small business owner

Jürg Widmer Probst

How to stay motivated as a small business owner

Jurg Widmer Probst

For many people, when they first set up a company, finding a way of staying motivated is probably one the last things that they will be worrying about. It is hard to imagine why a lack of motivation might be an issue in this situation – after all, you have had the vision for the business you are creating, and now you are making it an exciting reality. You are your own boss, setting your own direction, hiring the people you want to work with and doing the kind of work that interests you. And you are doing all of this to make a real difference – both in terms of your own career, for your customers and maybe even for the entire industry. Why wouldn’t you be motivated?

Well, all this is true – but it is also the case that often it can actually be incredibly difficult to maintain your levels of motivation when you are running a business on your own. It can be a lonely struggle, particularly during those periods when things don’t go so well (as will inevitably happen). It can feel like everything that is happening to the company – good and bad – is down to you, and that be a difficult burden to shoulder on your own. So, how do you keep your motivation levels high when you’re running your own business? Here are a few ideas.

It’s all about the vision

We talk about the importance of having a company vision a lot here, but that is only because it is fundamentally important to the success of your business. It is crucial because it is essentially the core motivation behind your company – not just for you but for anyone who works for you (or might want to work for you in the future). It is an aspirational statement that describes the transformational difference you want to make for your customers and for the industry. That is a very powerful thing, because once this vision is clearly established it becomes a rallying point – a focus for your efforts, and the reason why you get out of bed in the morning. More than simply making money (a goal that you will achieve with varying degrees of success over time), your vision will remain a constant reminder of why you are doing all of this, and a target for you to aim for.

Develop good habits and a routine

Routine is something that big companies do very well – so well in fact that it is probably one of main reasons why many of us leave and head off to set up our own companies in order to shake things up and do something a bit different. But in actual fact routine and processes are absolutely critical – not just to get things done efficiently and consistently well, but also as a way of creating a regular working rhythm that can keep the motivation levels high. Establishing routines is an important part of maintaining an ongoing focus, and creating a framework of regular activities that the rest of the business is built on. These activities could be committing to get out of the office once a month for networking meetings, or establishing a morning routine that gets you up, out and focused on a set of achievable goals each day.

Understand the power of rest and reward

Most established companies (if they are any good) will have a formal way of recognising and rewarding their employees. They will also make sure that all of those employees have a certain amount of agreed holiday time every year.

Unfortunately these are two things – both powerful motivators – that many small business owners and entrepreneurs forget to provide for themselves.

Even if you are running your own small team, it could well be the case that you are giving them their statutory time off, and even bonuses and rewards, but that you aren’t doing it for yourself as the head of the company. You’re too busy to take a break, and perhaps don’t want to be seen to be rewarding yourself ahead of the people you work with.

This is, we think, a big mistake – and it is really important to maintain your own levels of motivation by giving yourself a break sometimes and rewarding your own achievements in a meaningful way. There really is nothing wrong with this, but it is incredible how difficult it can be to see this when you are busy running your own business.

So give yourself a rest and a pat on the back – and you’ll see your motivation levels rise again.



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