For many people in the world today, starting up their own business is a dream that seems almost beyond reach. It’s the kind of thing that people often fantasise about from the confines of their day-to-day office job, as a sort of hopeful “what if…”, or “wouldn’t it be great if…” kind of scenario.
The first hurdle is often just deciding to make the plunge and start up your business, and then taking the required steps to make this happen. But actually committing to start up your new business is by no means the end of the battle.
Entrepreneurs inevitably face a lot of obstacles on the road to professional success, and the tendency to lose motivation and become disheartened is by no means a small issue.
Since any significant degree of success in an entrepreneurial venture requires motivation and forwards-momentum, here are some tips on how to keep motivated, energized, and focused while building your own business.
Consider working at a coworking space
Many solopreneurs — that is, entrepreneurs who work alone, and who often work from home — find themselves facing an unexpected issue. Instead of feeling liberated and enthused after leaving the world of conventional work, they find that they’re cut adrift, without a clear sense of structure to their days.
When you begin working from home for the first time, it can be a jarring experience. All of a sudden, you no longer have bosses or supervisors to keep you in line, you no longer have coworkers to gossip with on your lunch break, and you don’t even have the ritual of the morning commute to set off the right psychological trigger to remind that you’re now in “work mode”.
Instead, you roll out of bed when you feel like it, eat breakfast when you feel like it, and start work when you feel like it. You could in all likelihood get away with staying in your pyjammas all day and not leaving the house at all.
The issue is that this kind of chaotic environment can make it very difficult to remain productive and organised.
One excellent solution to this, is to work — at least some of the time — at a flexible workspace that allows for coworking. That way, you’ll be working on your own business, on your own terms, but you’ll still be in a “professional” environment. You’ll still have the commute. You’ll still be surrounded by “coworkers” of a sort, during the day, and you’ll be able to structure your day’s “start” and “end” times much more easily..
Begin implementing good productivity habits, one small step at a time
The old saying, attributed to Aristotle, goes “we are what we repeatedly do; excellence therefore is a habit not an act”. This idea rings especially true in the world of work, and perhaps especially true, there, in the case of entrepreneurs who are striving to make their own businesses successful.
Your business is not going to be defined, ultimately, by a single action of yours, but by the routines and productivity habits you enact on a daily basis, over the long term.
This means that implementing the best productivity habits is essential to the overall success of your business. But this isn’t the kind of thing you can really do in one fell swoop.
Instead, focus on identifying a selection of good productivity habits that you want to adopt and embody, and then work on implementing them slowly, one small step at a time. Start “too small to fail”, and work on remaining consistent, no matter what. It’s consistency that will ultimately yield success.
If you need to market your business, you could begin with setting yourself the goal of sending out one letter of introduction a day. That’s a manageable goal, and it will also have some incremental benefit over time. As you become more comfortable with this routine, increase the amount of work you do in this area, either on a daily or weekly basis.
Keep your grand business vision in mind, and reflect on it daily
Staying motivated to invest a significant amount of work in your business is, to a large degree, a matter of developing a grand vision for your business, keeping that in mind, and reflecting on it on a daily basis.
See where you want to be in a few years down the line. Speak your goal out to yourself as an affirmation. Visualise yourself achieving the various professional waypoints you’ve set for yourself.
These mental exercises will — if nothing else — help to reinforce, again and again, the emotional drive to keep pressing forward and doing the work required for success.
Use appropriate digital apps and services to help you keep yourself on track
In a conventional office environment, you’ll have inbuilt “accountability mechanisms” in the form of managers and team members whose job it is to ensure that you remain on track. Slacking off and failing to get your work done have consequences, never mind skipping work just because you feel like it.
Various digital apps and services exist which can help you to replicate some of these “accountability mechanisms” in your own life, including StickK — a tool for setting “commitment contracts” with a cash penalty for failure — and RescueTime — a tool that tracks how you spend your time on the computer and sends you regular productivity reports.
Reward yourself for small wins
The concept of “small wins” is sometimes spoken about by psychologists as an essential component in keeping people motivated and happy, in work and in life.
All of us will experience “small wins” in our lives, to one degree or another. In regards to your own business, a “small win” might just be crossing off all of the items on your daily To-Do list, or it might mean pitching your services to a new client, or successfully completing an assignment.
These “small wins” will generally feel and seem somewhat “irrelevant” in the big picture of your business goals, but by taking pride in them, and rewarding yourself for them, you’re more likely to stay motivated on a consistent basis.