Founding and running a business is a taxing experience, both in the short and long term. Going on to transform a new startup into a successful and growing enterprise is a downright herculean task. The road to success is long, and can often be discouraging. Considering this, it’s understandable that a large majority or new businesses never make it past their first year, and many of those that do never grow to become significant names in their industry.
To consistently put in the time and effort that your business needs in order to distinguish itself and grow, entrepreneurs need powerful motivation, and the ability to stay motivated and focused even in difficult circumstances. This motivation is surprisingly easy to lose, as indicated by an informal survey by MyBusiness, which found that 41 percent of 282 respondent Australian business owners could no longer name a personal reason for being self employed. For their businesses to succeed, business owners need to find what motivates them, and put in the work to stay motivated in the long term.
Understand why you’re in business
Initial motivations for starting a business can vary widely. Some entrepreneurs are looking for wealth or prestige, while others want to solve a larger problem with their product or service. Still others just want to be their own boss, or enjoy the idea of creating something bigger than themselves. Whatever your personal reasons may be, it’s important to be consciously aware of them. Identifying your primary motivations, and updating them as you and your circumstances change and evolve, defines what success means for your business both in the short and long term. With that knowledge, you can begin to focus on how to achieve success.
Set goals to create a path to success
Motivation isn’t just built on a purpose, but also on the expectation of success. Once the question of why you’re in business is settled, it’s time to address how your business will serve that purpose. That means setting goals, and developing strategies for how to achieve those goals. An entrepreneur seeking worldwide recognition and reach, for example, might set goals related to building international business relationships, courting international investment, and establishing a subsidiary in another country. This serves to break down monumentally large and somewhat vague grand purposes into smaller, concrete, and much more achievable goals.
Staying motivated in the long term
Maintaining your motivation to achieve the goals that you’ve set for yourself is, in many ways, about controlling your stress levels. High stress levels can cause anyone to lose track of their responsibilities, and to become easily overwhelmed by cash flow interruptions or other roadblocks. At that point, even smaller intermediary goals no longer seem achievable, and despair sets in. After that, it can be very difficult to recover. To avoid this type of situation in the first place, it’s very important to maintain control of how your business operates, and your own work life.
Establish financial solutions ahead of time
Business owners consistently cite cash flow problems as their biggest impediment to growth and success. Resolving this issue by preemptively establishing financing solutions can provide both the time and the peace of mind entrepreneurs need to deal with other stressors, and to get their business back on track. Depending on the business, that might mean setting up a standby loan, opening an unsecured line of credit, or simply talking to a financial representative to learn about invoice financing or supply chain finance.
Maintain a routine
Many business owners work upwards of 60 hours per week. While long hours may be an issue for some on their own, the more important side effect is often that entrepreneurs don’t have regular routines. Setting up, and then following, a relatively rigid routine can seem like a difficult task, but it’s also been shown to significantly reduce stress levels. Routines provide a sense of normalcy, and frees up energy that would otherwise be used to mentally juggle a complex and irregular schedule. More importantly, it allows otherwise extremely busy people to maintain their health by enforcing regular meals, sleep, exercise, and time for relaxation.
Fight environmental stressors
For a business owner that spends the majority of their time at work, surrounded by employees, it’s important to create a healthy and positive work environment. That means taking steps to nurture a healthy company culture, as well as making your physical environment as livable as possible with simple amenities. Colourful decor, proper lighting, comfortable seating, and quality coffee might sound frivolous, but it has important psychological effects. A hospitable environment promotes friendlier interactions, and directly lowers the stress levels of everyone exposed to it.
These steps allow business owners and their teams to cooperate and communicate better, and allow them to function with less friction, even at the end of a long day. While the challenges that business owners face vary widely, and the right way to become motivated and to maintain that motivation aren’t the same for everyone, business owners who follow these general guidelines are better able to visualise their goals, to define their path forward, and to maintain their focus in the long term.