How To Stay Motivated in the Trenches Small business expert Kevin Hiser of QStart Labs answers readers' top questions about entrepreneurship.
Q: What do you do when you lose motivation? I'm passionate about my business but need to reenergize my employees and myself.
- Mena Ramsis
A: Rather than give you a pep talk, as most would, I prefer to provide four actionable things you can do to motivate both yourself and your employees. Besides, my wife will tell you I'm terrible at pep talks.
With that said, it is great that you were able to find a way to take something you're passionate about and create a business that solves a problem. I hope the following will help you gain your second wind, motivate your team, and keep moving forward.
1. Make the decision. The problem with passion is that it comes and goes just as love does in a relationship. For every married couple there are times when they wake up next to their spouse and don't feel in love. The difference in relationships that last and those that do not is that both people make a decision to love the other person even when the feeling is gone. Guess what? Shortly thereafter the feeling returns and the world is right again. As an entrepreneur you have chosen to throw yourself into an impossible situation in order to solve problems that others did not have the guts to solve. Remember this and make the decision each day to be an entrepreneur.
2. Have a two-page strategic plan. Many times entrepreneurs have ideas of what they want to happen, set lofty visions, but have not provided a specific framework for which to communicate and engage employees in the execution. This creates an environment where employees are constantly waiting to be told what to do next, as opposed to knowing the goals, having accountabilities, and the freedom to make decisions that achieve the goals. Read my article Why Your Business Plan is Probably Incomplete for some insight and a great book to read on the subject.
3. Create wins as a team and celebrate. Too many times I see entrepreneurs set the end goal as the only win that matters. Remember, all of the smaller wins that move you closer to your final goal and encourage you and your team that you are making progress along the way is also important. As part of the strategic plan that I mentioned above, you will set quarterly goals that will move your team toward your longer-term ones.
To provide a real life example our team at QStart Labs has a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) to be able to launch a rock solid web business within 24 hours of first hearing the idea. As you can imagine, a goal this large will not happen overnight, or even over a year's time. We do, however, have quarterly team goals that are strategically chosen that allow us to move closer to our long-term goal. As these goals are successfully achieved we make a big deal out of celebrating together. This has allowed us all to stay motivated even when things get tough and things seem impossible. The small wins we accomplish along the way remind us of the big reward that awaits.
4. Dips are positive. While this seems counterintuitive, understand that it is the tough times that make most people give up. This is a great opportunity for those that can outlast everyone else. These few are the ones that will reap the rewards on the other side of the dip. If it was easy, no one would quit and there would be no scarcity and no reward for your efforts. A great resource is Seth Godin's book: The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)
Remember, being an entrepreneur is not easy. It takes a conscience decision every day to get up, stay focused and achieve your dreams. Not to worry though, I know you are up to the task. So take a deep breath, read the resources I have provided, and go forward with the confidence that you will succeed. If I can be of more assistance, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to share more insight as I learn more about you.
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