Running a small business is not an easy task, the journey to success is full of uncertainty and rough patches.
You might struggle to generate viable and sustainable ideas, manage a team, or navigate competitive markets. All this can intimidate you to quit your small business. But there’s always a better option of not giving up by staying motivated.
So, how do you stay motivated in tough times? The most effective way is to learn from successful business persons and how they stay motivated.
Here are some tips to stay motivated in your small business:
How to Stay Motivated as a Small Business Owner? 12 Entrepreneurs Share their Experiences
1. Always Challenge Yourself to Grow
There is no growth when you’re solving the same problems over and over.
Creativity and novelty occur when you step out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges. If you’re struggling to stay motivated as a small business owner, always look for challenges.
Challenges are hurdles that can inspire you and improve your decision-making skills.
Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, shares a tip along the same line:
“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had — every day I’m learning something new.”
2. Find a Small Business that you Love
Realize this: you’re going to spend a lot of your time, energy, and money in your small business. So, it’s better to choose a small business that aligns with your interests and values.
Steve Jobs says:
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
When you believe in what you do, the end result is a ground-breaking product. For instance, if you’re interested in paintings and art, you can consider starting a small business in that domain.
You are bound to enjoy every moment working on it. Also, you’ll be motivated as a small business owner because your daily work is your passion (art).
3. Failure is your Self-Motivation
This tip sounds counterintuitive, but if you leverage it, you’ll be unstoppable. Mark Cuban, an American entrepreneur, and investor, once wrote for Bloomberg:
“No matter what business you’re in, you’re always at risk -- particularly in technology, where it changes so rapidly you’ve got to put in the effort to keep up,” writes the Shark Tank panel member. “There’s always the opportunity for some 18-year-old to come out of nowhere and crush you—that motivates the hell out of me.”
So, if you’ve failed (or are afraid of failing), use it as a motivation and ask yourself:
- What did I do wrong?
- Who did I trust that I shouldn’t trust?
- What can I learn from this situation so I can avoid it next time?
4. Keep Motivation Visible to you
Doing Business is hard and full of uncertainty; that’s why there is only a small percentage of successful businesses.
Amidst all the challenges, you need to stay motivated and maintain a positive mindset to keep the business afloat.
Murray Newlands, the founder of online invoicing company Sighted, writes:
“It’s so easy as an entrepreneur to get sucked into feeling exhausted or frustrated, and often the blame is yours alone. But a negative mindset sucks up the mental bandwidth and energy that you need to stay focused and successful.
"It is crucial to maintain an optimistic attitude in the face of setbacks. Whenever you see a quote or a picture that helps you stay positive, place it front and center so you can remember what this journey is all about.”
Keep motivation where it’s most visible to you.
5. Rejection is a Stepping Stone
Here’s an interesting business insight if you’re wondering how to stay motivated as a small business owner:
“On June 26, 2008, our friend Michael Seibel introduced us to seven prominent investors in Silicon Valley. We were attempting to raise $150,000 at a $1.5M valuation. That means for $150,000, you could have bought 10 percent of Airbnb.
“The investors that rejected us were smart people, and I am sure we didn’t look very impressive at the time.” writes Airbnb Co-Founder Brian Chesky on Medium.
What started as a small business has now become Airbnb, valued at above $75 billion. Often in business, you might get rejected when you’re starting. At that point, you’ve two options: pack your bags and close the business or learn from your rejection and keep moving forward.
If you want to stay motivated as a small business owner, stay humble and work hard even after rejections.
6. Build Business by Iterations
Ian Aronovich, Co-Founder and CEO of GovernmentAuctions.org, explains how to stay motivated as a small business owner:
“To stay motivated, you have to keep reminding yourself that a good business with a strong, reliable source of revenue can stay afloat even in the roughest of times.
That’s why – while you have the chance – you need to work to build a strong business by testing different revenue models, simulating your business in various economic environments, and brainstorming what new methods your business can use to bring in more profits.
If or when the economy falls into rough times, because you’ve done the work to build a good foundation for your business, you’ll be more optimistic and maintain the motivation that’s necessary to keep pushing forward.”
There is no fixed strategy that will make your small business successful. Every venture is unique—imitating strategies without thinking is a route to failure. Instead, you need to study different business models and test against controlled factors.
7. Remember Why you Started
Here’s a simple hack to stay motivated in your business:
“The best way to stay motivated when the going gets rough is to remember why you’re doing what you do. I became a small business owner because I loved the thought of being my own boss – setting my own schedule and getting the flexibility I wanted so I could spend more time with my family.
Ultimately, I’m doing this for them. I love my business and everything it does for the small business community, but whenever things get tough, I just think of why I sought out this venture in the first place, and I feel grounded once again.”
– Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com
8. Focus on Clients that Keep you Up
There’s a brutal truth in business: you can’t satisfy every client. Roughly 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your client base.
This is the segment where you should double down. These clients will be the ones who will provide genuine feedback and show gratitude for your service. There’s nothing more motivating than happy and satisfied clients.
JeFreda R. Brown, CEO of Brown Accounting Solutions LLC, shares,
“We business owners all have experienced the tire kickers who waste our time. Our goal is to reach the clients and customers who really need our services and will pay for them.
During those times when it’s kind of slow, and you start reconsidering if you’re doing the right thing, a client will come along who is grateful for your help. Receiving feedback from the clients who let you know you have truly enhanced their life is what keeps me motivated and going.”
9. Focus on Small Wins
The majority of new small business owners and entrepreneurs look for big problems to solve. They get motivated by all the seemingly big solutions and events.
This misses the point because entrepreneurship is about the daily hustles, the daily wins. Work on long-term goals but celebrate small victories too—that’s how you can stay motivated in small business.
Ben Baker of Your Brand Marketing talks about his experience,
“Too many times we as a society & entrepreneurs celebrate the "new.” The new business, new innovation, or the new customer. Those are great, but not what entrepreneurship is about.
As successful entrepreneurs, we know that it is the long haul, the daily grind & the background tasks that lead to long-term success. Those are what need to be celebrated. Take joy in realizing the incremental steps that lead to long-term success & celebrate with staff how the little things create big change!”
10. Execution is the Secret Motivation
Nolan Bushnell, founder of leading electronic game company, Atari, reveals his secret of motivation:
“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”
If you want to stay motivated for a long time in your small business, then execute every plan without delay. Ideas work better when you try them and fail on a small scale.
You’d be inspired to experiment with methods that work better at a larger scale—yielding successful outcomes.
11. Visualize your Goals
Brian Tracy said,
“If what you are doing is not moving you towards your goals, then it’s moving you away from your goals.”
Thus, it’s essential to work towards your goal while maintaining focus.
Bill Simpson, President & CEO of Life Document Storage, explains how to stay motivated in your business by visualization:
“I have my dream goal written down on paper and taped to the wall where I can always see it. Each day, I start off by taking 5 minutes, closing my eyes, and visualizing and daydreaming about making it to that goal; how I would feel once completed, what I would do to celebrate reaching the goal, etc.
That provides the motivation each day to work towards that goal. If I ever hit a really big bump in the road and things get really tough, I just take 5 minutes to again visualize reaching that goal and continue to move forward.”
12. Fitness is Motivation
Here’s how Josh Waldron, Founder of Studio JWAL, stays motivated in his business:
“This may seem like a simple tip, but as an entrepreneur, I stay motivated by exercising. Since most of my work is computer-based, it’s very important for me to push my body physically and enjoy fresh air and sunshine on a somewhat regular basis. Exercise refreshes my brain, inspires creativity, and encourages a positive outlook.”
Exercising regularly stimulates the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These chemicals impact your brain health, focus, and mental well-being.
Operating a business can be stressful sometimes. Working out regularly can help you in reducing stress and anxiety and keep you motivated for long.
In a Nutshell
Steve Jobs once said, “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
Every business owner feels unmotivated and uninspired sometime in their journey. But what separates achievers from failures is their perseverance to stick to the goal.
Instead of being disheartened by failures, get up and find out why you failed. Remember, if you want to stay motivated in your business, keep inventing solutions that propel your business and yourself forward.