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How to Stay Motivated When Running a Small Business

Running a small business can be compared to being in love or being married for the first time—it’s exciting at first. But when problems start to crop up (i.e., slow sales), the excitement wears off. If you don’t find a way of addressing these problems, you’ll soon lose energy and motivation. You might even give up on your small business entirely.

Staying motivated takes more than reading self-help books or motivational aids. The key is to have an overall strategic plan for both your personal life and your business, with “built-in” features designed to not only grow your business, but prevent the loss of personal motivation.

Small Business Tip #1. Know and remember what your business mission is.

Many small business owners became self-employed entrepreneurs simply because they’re better at working when they don’t work for someone else. But that’s barely enough to motivate anybody to make a business successful.

An entrepreneur must be a passionate visionary. Having passion for your business means you not only love and enjoy what your business is about (and want to spend time in it), but are committed to making it successful. And being committed to this business means you know precisely why running your own business is important to yourself and your community. Knowing your own business has a purpose or “mission” will fuel your passion to keep it alive.

But knowing your mission isn’t enough, either. You need to continuously remind yourself what this mission or service is. So build it into your weekly or monthly schedule of activities for both your personal life and in the way you run the business. It shouldn’t take up much of your time, but it should be meaningful.

For instance, you can attend clubs or seminars to meet with people who need your particular product or service, or whose own products and services complement yours. Make time to nurture a network of these people. When business problems occur, they’ll become your source for solutions and inspiration. You won’t feel alone in your situation.

Small Tip #2. Don’t waste any time or business resources on something that doesn’t serve your business vision.

You may know your business mission. But what is your vision?

“Vision” is different from mission. Vision is a very specific, sought-after happy-ending future scenario that you’d like your business to end up in. Think of it this way: vision is “what” the business is supposed to achieve, and mission is “why” the business is supposed to achieve it.

Often, entrepreneurs aren’t clear about their mission or vision. For instance, a business owner might say that their mission is to delight customers or the local community by bringing a higher level of quality and innovation to a particular product or service. But what that higher level of quality or innovation actually is, remains either vague or unfulfilled.

Without that end-goal or end-scenario in mind, a small business literally has no direction. You need to set a specific timetable or “track” for your business as it moves forward, toward that end scenario. That timetable should specify what specific, measurable sub-goals need to be achieved, and at which particular time, in order to keep the business moving forward. Do the same for your personal life.

Again, this timetable should be filled with specific sub-goals and tasks. Thus, if something isn’t in your timetable, don’t waste your energy or resources on it—or you’ll inevitably whittle down your own motivation to work. Organize everything according to the timetable, and stay organized!
For instance, don’t waste your money running after expensive advertising space on TV, just to make your product “famous.” If that’s not what your business vision-mission is about, stick to cheaper targeted online ads instead, or hire an online marketer. You only need to reach the people your vision-mission will directly affect.

Small Business Tip #3. Reward yourself with every sub-goal achieved.

Once you’ve got this timetable and have rearranged everything accordingly, don’t forget to celebrate your triumphs. Keep track of how well your small business is doing according to this timetable, and give yourself a small reward for every time you accomplish a sub-goal.

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