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The Seven-Year-Itch: Are You Bored With Your Business?

Can't find the motivation to drag yourself from your bed to your office? Scanning the want ads instead of the business section? Read on to find out how to scratch that dissatisfaction itch.

Gil Gordon was in business for four years when his motivation hit a brick wall: No matter how well he did, no matter how pleased his clients were, his business cycles were like a roller coaster.

Billings swung wildly from month to month. Some months were strong, others left him wondering why he had left his day job as a director with Johnson & Johnson. And his emotional swings were carried in tow.

This wasn't good for business or his self-confidence, especially since Gordon, president of Gil Gordon Associates, a Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, human resources and telecommuting consulting firm, was working in a then-fledgling field hardly brimming with clients jumping to send employees home to work.

"I was struck by, and probably a bit depressed by, the realization that no matter what I did, I would probably always be living on a business roller-coaster," Gordon recalls now, more than 15 years after encountering that first wall. "The good news was that the numbers at the end of the year always turned out OK, and still do. But if I look at it on a monthly basis, there can be wild swings. I wasn't upset by the fact that there were low points, but by the fact that I seemed destined for that eternal cycle of low points and high points and couldn't do much about it."

Whatever the cause, whatever the outcome, Gordon is not alone in facing business swings and the "seven-year itch" homebased entrepreneurs often face. Fickle clients, cyclical business patterns and motivational mood swings can cause you to question your whole purpose in working as an entrepreneur from home.

These psychological issues aren't uncommon. How they're handled can determine whether a homebased entrepreneur continues to call the business address "home," or heads back to the relative safety and security of the corporate environment. And often, the itch is not a one-time event. While he's never given too much thought to returning to a corporate job, Gordon has felt the itch three times in an 18-year at-home career.

Even if you're more successful that you ever imagined, a lack of motivation--and even boredom--can still strike, says Jim Rohrbach, a motivational and business coach in Chicago. Rohrbach calls it the "boredom of success."

In the early stages of a new company--especially a homebased business where the owner is challenged by working in a new environment as well as by running a business--motivation is drawn from the desire to succeed long-term, Rohrbach says. But once relative success has been achieved, the challenge to succeed often fades and people long for more excitement in their businesses.

The antidote? To create a bigger mission for the business, Rohrbach says. Large goals take many steps to achieve, and each can erase boredom and keep the entrepreneur focused.

Another way to combat motivational brick walls is to get out and about. Schedule networking meetings, sales calls and lunches with peers, clients or allies. Create new business ideas or a Big Target project. (The Big Target is a long-term project designed to excite and invigorate the business owner to complete a worthwhile project.)


Journalist and author Jeff Zbar has worked from home since the 1980s. He writes about home business, teleworking, marketing, communications and other SOHO issues.

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