5 Ways to Find Inspiration as a Small-Business Owner

With so much going on at your business, at home, and around the world, it can be easy to lose focus.

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There are so many thing goings on in the European business world right now. Some are positive, like the lifting of Covid restrictions that barred travel or consumers from entering stores freely. Others are more stressful, like inflation and soaring ethanol prices.

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To do good business, you have to be in a good headspace. Here are some tips for finding and harnessing inspiration to do your best work.

1. Create a vision board.

Setting goals and being able to see them is powerful. Write your goals down on a pieces of paper and don't skimp on the artsiness, since you'll be looking at them a lot. Stick the goals on a large board along with photos of people or things that motivate you. Maybe use a picture of your family on vacation along with a goal of making enough money to take them on two vacations next year. If you want to expand your business to new locations, throw in a map and put pins everywhere you want a building, then write clearly when, exactly, you want those built.

Look at your board often. Even seeing the concrete goals with clear deadlines will propel you to make choices that help your dreams turn into reality.

2. Never turn down an event.

We all get invited to networking events or parties. Sometimes, it can feel like the effort required to dress up, commute, and chat with strangers isn't worth what we get out of them. Try changing your mindset. Don't turn down a chance to meet someone new. You never know whether they could be a potential partner, employee, or the source of a great new idea. Plus, when you're eating free food or walking out with a little gift bag, your spirits are bound to rise just a bit.

3. Read more.

Set a goal to read more than you do now. Perhaps you aim for at least one book every two weeks. (Put it on your vision board!) Next, head to the local bookshop or use a search engine to find titles related to your business. A site like Goodreads or Amazon can show you other related books, so once you read and enjoy a few, you'll keep finding others that can inspire you even more.

Think about some of your business heroes, people whose career you'd like to emulate. Have they written a book or been written about? Add those to your reading list.

There are endless things to learn and every new piece of information you take in can help you define your goals, create an action plan, and move forward. Reading about others' successes – and, of course, their failures, which happen to everyone – can help you frame your view of your own life and business. Even if you're a sole owner and operator, you're not in this alone; someone, somewhere, has been through what you're going through or has written something that can guide you. One day, you might even be contributing to the canon!

4. Look to your team.

In ordinary team meetings, set aside time for everyone at your company to talk freely about the organization's mission, their personal goals, workplace culture, and what is and isn't working for them. Let it be a judgment-free zone and give everyone a chance to talk openly. If you're considering a big decision, democratize it a bit by asking for input from your team. Other people can be wellsprings of ideas and perspectives you haven't considered.

Outside of meetings, make sure to set up periodic team-building activities, whether they're catered lunches, off-site trips, or after-work happy hours. No matter how open and welcoming your meetings are, they're still business meetings; setting aside time for everyone to bond and relax, free of the constraints of work, will help you grow closer and be inspired by their views.

5. Take time off.

Don't forget to take your vacation days. If you're sick, stay home. Better still, consider setting clear offline hours each day and confining your work to working hours. For instance, don't answer emails or calls at dinner. Of course, that can be difficult for small-business owners. If you're able to delegate some communications, do so.

It can be hard to bounce back from burnout. If you're overworked and exhausted, you can be cranky, closed-off, and uninspired. Give yourself time to enjoy life, clear your mind, engage with your hobbies and family, and become inspired by the world.

If you work alone or on a small team, think about making one of your vision-board goals the hiring of part-timers who can shoulder a bit of the workload. You'll have more time to focus on your inspiration and reap the previously mentioned benefits of hearing new perspectives.