Motivation. It's a complicated subject that is studied by
many and understood by few. Virtually every aspect of
human life -- from the mundane to the life-changing -- is
guided, swayed and altered by motivating factors.
For instance, what to have for dinner may be motivated by a
desire to lose or gain weight. Whether or not to attend a
business seminar may be motivated by the speakers,
location and cost. When and where to buy new clothing may
be motivated by a long list of personal preferences as well
as the changing seasons and weather conditions.
Even reading this article is a motivated behavior. Do you
like the style of writing? Are you curious about the subject
matter? Do you have a desire to learn new information? Do
you have enough time to finish reading? If the answers are
no, you probably won't continue reading!
But since you have continued, you are obviously motivated.
You want to learn more about how to get and stay
motivated, and how this motivation can help you become a
better business owner.
THE BUSINESS OF MOTIVATION
Motivation is one of the most powerful driving forces in the
workplace. It can mean the difference between tremendous
success and failure.
Motivation stems from two sources. The first part of
motivation is external or extrinsic (outside the person)
sources. Other motivating factors come from internal
forces, which are mainly your thoughts, patterns and
However, humans are unique, so what motivates Jack will
not necessarily motivate Jill. You -- and only you -- will be
able to determine what works.
Take the time to examine what internal and external factors
are motivating you as a business owner. What can you do
to enhance and refine your motivation to make yourself
more productive and more fulfilled?
Here are seven keys to motivation that may prove helpful.
Inspiration is critical to getting and staying motivated. If you
are not interested in your business, your motivation level will
never be high and you won't be able to sustain interest for
On the flip side, if you are energized and excited about the
work you are doing, you will have more persistence, energy
Take an honest look at your inspiration level. Are you
excited about going to work or is it an obligation? You would
be surprised at the number of people who choose a
business that looks good on paper, but in reality does not
interest them in the least. These individuals will grow
and uninterested pretty quickly because they have no
inspiration or passion to sustain them during the difficult
times they will encounter as a small business owner.
If you don't really enjoy your work, then think how you can
re-focus your small business to better match your needs.
Or consider making a change entirely. That's pretty drastic
advice, but inspiration is that important.
2. SETTING GOALS
Short and long-term goal setting is vital for any business
owner. If you didn't set goals, you would be adrift with
nothing to strive for and no charted course to follow.
How could you possibly be motivated if you were unsure
about the direction of your company?
Take the time to put your goals in writing. A business plan
may sound daunting, but it is really nothing more than
goals, strategies, implementation and a budget. Write your
own business plan and update it at least annually. Include
"mini-goals" that can be accomplished in a matter of hours,
days or weeks as well as the more ambitious "grand-goals"
that may take years to complete. Refer to this plan
throughout the year.
But can a business plan really help motivate you? Yes!
Written goals will make you feel more professional and
certainly more connected to your business. It will also free
you from having to reinvent your business goals every single
Another key factor in getting and staying motivated is
networking with other small business owners. One person
can't move huge mountains. However, when a number of
people begin working together the mountains are suddenly
only small hills -- simply challenges waiting to be
In fact, the isolation of working alone is of one the most
difficult parts of being an entrepreneur. Mutual support is
motivating. So, make it easier on yourself by connecting
with others either in your community or online. Even when
businesses are not related, you will often find common
ground and ways to work together.
Many successful entrepreneurs report that finding the right
networking group was a turning point in the growth of the
business. Working together, a networking group can help
its members generate more qualified sales leads and solve
problems faster and more efficiently. Sharing ideas,
expertise and experience is also an invaluable aspect of
networking groups. And, don't forget about sharing costs,
possibly by buying in bulk or with joint marketing projects.
Your own personal team of business owners will help
re-energize you when the burdens of running your own
business seem too much. With your networking team to
rely on, you can accomplish more in less time and probably
have more fun in the process. Certainly, you will feel less
4. REWARD YOURSELF
Small business owners will always have to work hard, but
all work and no play is a huge mistake. Your motivation will
soon begin to fall if you never take any time away from the
demands of running the business.
So, plan frequent rewards for yourself. No, it doesn't need
to be a trip to Hawaii (although this is a great idea). Your
reward can be as simple as a lunch out with an old friend, a
matinee with your significant other, an afternoon of
shopping or a relaxing massage.
If your budget and time will allow, take a few days off for a
short trip or simply schedule a vacation from work for a few
days. Make it a real vacation -- even if you don't leave town --
so no checking email, voice mail or the fax machine. You
need to get away, unwind and renew yourself. This "down"
time to regenerate will help improve your attitude and
perspective. It sounds corny, but you will come back to your
business with a new sense of motivation.
While it isn't always immediately apparent, there is a
powerful connection between the mind and the body. It is
vital for every small business owner to take breaks and
exercise -- everyday. If your body isn't healthy, your
motivation will certainly suffer.
These exercise breaks don't have to be huge blocks of time,
and you needn't spend money joining a gym or hiring a
personal trainer. Start by walking briskly for 30 minutes
before, during or after work. After you have incorporated a
walk each day, then try doubling the time or doing two walks
Whatever works for you is best, but the important thing is to
start. You will begin to feel better.
After the walking is part of your routine, add some basic light
weights. Buy a tape or go online to find out how to properly
use the weights so you won't injure yourself.
You can keep the weights under your desk, and use them
for just a few minutes at a time. Buy a timer the next time
you are at the grocery store. Set the timer for for three
minutes to start and then add a minute or two until you're up
to 10 or 15 minutes each day.
Some small business owners have a television at work and
they schedule a CNN break along with their weights. This
way, they are catching up with world and local news while
simultaneously getting some moderate exercise.
Organization is critical to motivation. How can you feel good
about your work, when you can't find important papers or
you are constantly late returning messages? Your
business will falter and your motivation will suffer.
Some people just can't get organized. If you are one of
them, then consider bringing in someone -- a business
friend, family member or professional -- to help you get the
clutter and mess cleaned up. You will be amazed at how
this one important step will help you get back on the
organizational track. Don't stop there. Now really get
organized by creating business systems that will help you
streamline your operations.
The real challenge will be keeping yourself on track by
maintaining these systems. For many, it is a daily
challenge, but if you use your organizational systems you'll
be free to think about other important issues.
7. MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKERS AND AUTHORS
As small business owners, it seems we are bombarded
with motivational ideas and materials-- tapes, books, CD's,
seminars, workbooks, videos and more. Why are there so
many different motivational products, authors and
speakers? Because people are buying these materials.
Used effectively, they are effective and therefore they sell!
However, there are so many different motivational gurus that
it is often difficult to see through the clutter to find someone
that makes sense for you -- someone who can get you "fired
up" about working and improving your business.
Try talking to your mentor or networking group members to
see who they might recommend. Start being aware of the
motivational industry and how it might help you become
more enthused and positive about your business. Do some
light research of your own to find some authors and
speakers that interest you.
Before you invest in motivational materials, you can probably
find some inexpensive ways to obtain the materials. Check
out your local library, tune into your local PBS station, buy
materials with a networking friend, visit used bookstores or
buy used materials online. Don't make a huge investment,
because you will probably want to sample many different
But do these materials really work? Yes, but only if you
make the effort. Just like exercise, you have to work the
muscles -- in this case your mind muscles.
It is up to you to take that information and apply it to your own
life and business. Really use the motivational ideas over a
period of time and you will begin to see results.
KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING
Motivation is what moves us forward in our daily and
business lives. Take the time to examine your motivating
factors and use some of these keys to improve your focus
and renew your enthusiasm. If you keep on track, the
motivation momentum can't help but carry you forward.
Nancy Wurtzel is the founder and of All About Baby, an
ecommerce company that offers personalized and
memorable gifts for children. In addition to a wide product
selection, All About Baby also featured helpful and
interesting site content. In addition to running her own
business, Nancy consults with other small business
owners providing advice about growing their ecommerce