1) Understand your reason for being in business
I tell people who want to motivate themselves in business to figure out what is the single most important thing they want to achieve.
Focus on that and allow it to motivate your involvement in the business.
2) Identify your strengths and weaknesses
Key to motivation, in my view, is to know what you are really good at and what you are not really good at.
We’ve spent a lot of time in the past talking about these things in the context of a business’ strengths and weaknesses, but I’m talking here from a personal perspective as a business owner or leader.
Critical to understanding yourself as a person, and therefore what motivates you in business, is to understand your areas of strong capability versus your areas of weakness and challenge.
I’m really good at selling, at developing business, at developing relationships with people. I’m a really good verbal communicator.
I’m not very good at process, paperwork and managing people’s performance.
You need to have a mental discussion with yourself to figure out those things and then acknowledge them – jot them down.
Be honest with yourself and pressure test whether your assessment is correct – ask someone who knows you well for their opinion.
3) Work out what you're really passionate about – and good at – and do it
We are much better at doing things we’re passionate about and good at than things we simply can do.
So, if you want to turn up the motivation dial to 100 per cent as a business owner, do the following:
- figure out what you’re passionate about;
- figure out what you’re really good at;
- focus on those tasks;
- ensure you have a team and processes around you to cover off on other key responsibilities.
Micro-managing dilutes motivation
Now some business owners with healthy egos may think: “I’m good at everything in this business – I need to do everything or it won’t survive.” I know business owners of very large, multi-million dollar businesses who hold that opinion, and good luck to them.
In my opinion, however, this sort of attitude results in business owners spreading themselves too thinly and, ultimately, doing their business a disservice.
By spreading themselves too thinly, they are also spreading too thinly the motivation, drive and passion that they bring to the business and which should be having the maximum impact on clients, employees and suppliers.
Trying to do everything and be everything dilutes your motivation and your impact.
Understand where you add the most value and focus on that. This leads us to the next point…
4) Accept your limits
Understanding your strengths and weaknesses gives you a feel for what your limits are.
You will know what stresses you out big time, versus what is a breeze for you. As a result you will need to think about the support team you have around you that covers off on those weaknesses and complements your strengths.
Again, I’m talking about your personal attributes here, but in the context of running the business.
If you’re not a good salesperson, you’re not good at business development and or developing relationships, you need someone in your team who is.
If you don’t have that person, your business will not be successful and you’re not going to be motivated to get up every day and go to work.
I don’t know anyone who finds repeated failure motivating.
5) Build a support team that can help achieve your business objectives
Building a supportive team is key to maintaining your motivation.
This team doesn’t have to consist solely of individuals who work in your business.
It may include:
- external team members, such as your accountant, business advisor or solicitor, and other business people;
- mentors, both formal and informal.
These are all people in your network who are good at things you’re not so good at.
Relying on a support team adds to your motivation because, ultimately, motivation is about feeling complete and content with your challenges, as a person or in business.
If you feel overwhelmed, you will take a dive in the motivation sense.
6) Reward yourself for achievements big and small
Being a business owner can be lonely.
Part of operating as an individual in a consistent, content and motivated way, is to recognise yourself and your achievements.
You need to be able to pat yourself on the back, because that will motivate you.
Self-thought and self-discussion the key
This concept may not be familiar to all business owners, but I am sure many of the good ones do it without even knowing it.
Practising self-thought and self-discussion simply means taking a few minutes at the end of each day to reflect on three things:
- What you’ve done well today
- How you’ve added value to the business
- What you want to achieve in the business.
It's a bit like tidying your desk before you head off for the day. It is tidying and ordering your thoughts about your business and – if you get comfortable doing it day by day – it will help maintain consistency of motivation.
James Price has over 30 years' experience in providing strategic, commercial and financial advice to Australian and international business clients. James' blogs provide business advice for aspiring and current small to mid-sized business owners, operators and managers.