How do Entrepreneurs stay motivated?
Starting a business or running a startup requires an exceptional amount of motivation and discipline. Without motivation, discipline, and ambition, startup founders and business owners would never successfully get their business off the ground.
In a recent study done by Vistaprint, they revealed that 33% of small business owners in the United States say they do not have the same motivation as they did in those early days of starting their entrepreneurial journey.
The same study revealed that 36% of small business owners reported experiencing this lack of motivation multiple times throughout a year, in a waxing and waning fashion.
In a different study done by Inc.com, they reported that 62% of small business owner respondents have suffered from burnout at some recent point in their business ownership.
This burnout can be detrimental for business founders and owners in keeping their businesses afloat. Changing times require a dynamic business model, one that is impossible to achieve without motivation and drive.
What happens if an entrepreneur doesn’t have self-motivation?
Studies show that many entrepreneurs have lost that initial self-motivation that drove them to start their business in the first place. If an entrepreneur loses their self-motivation, their business is going to be in big trouble.
As we said, it is important to be able to change your business with the changing times and that requires motivation. To be unmotivated is to be stagnant and that could be deadly to a business.
In one of Brian Tracy’s blog posts, he states that
97% of adult Americans are trying to live their lives without clear, specific, and written-out goals.
Yes, this includes even the wealthiest leaders and founders out there.
According to Tracy, in order to be successful, you must prioritize self-discipline, otherwise, you risk wasting time on unimportant tasks or losing motivation to further your business.
When you lack goals, you lack motivation. Any startup founder will tell you that the road to get where they are today, was not easy.
We talked to startup founders and business owners across the country to ask them what motivates them.
Steve O’Dell, co-founder, and CEO of Tenzo Matcha Tea told us part of his story.
In the early stages of any business, the future can seem bleak. There is always a swarm of doubters who do not see opportunity in the same lens as you. When I dropped out of college and moved to Los Angeles to fulfill my dream, a phrase I heard stuck with me.
Opportunities don’t happen, you create them.
This was the cornerstone of my business mentality and is something that everyone should remind themselves of when striving to meet their goals.
O’Dell has faced what many people have faced: the toughest critics out there.
Those who want to make you doubt and second guess yourself. According to O’Dell, the most important thing is to create those opportunities for yourself, because they are not going to just fall in your lap.
Creating those opportunities requires dedication and motivation. It is not easy to start your own business in such a competitive world.
How to find entrepreneurial motivation?
If you find yourself feeling burnt out and as though you have stopped believing in your business and your ideas, it is time to sit down and re-discover your goals and your motivation. According to Inc.com, it is extremely important to identify your core values.
To do this, they recommend sitting down and making a physical list of things that are important to you. Once you have made that list, you should then identify which of those values are the most important to you and what you can do to ensure they are protected.
This list will help you in a number of ways.
- First, it will help you re-discover and integrate who you are.
- Second, it provides focus. When you zone in on what is important to you, you are going to spend more time trying to meet those goals or ensure those values.
- Third, it will simplify any decision-making process. All you have to do is look at your list when you are making a decision, and think about whether that decision will protect your identified values, or harm them.
- Lastly, making this list will hold you accountable for your decisions and actions. When you limit your values to a few written down on a piece of paper, it is extremely easy to revisit your list and make decisions based on it.
If you have trouble creating a list of values that are essential to you and to your businesses, you can try making a list of ways in which you feel as though you can make a difference.
When doing this, you can ask yourself how you could potentially contribute to the world. Or, you may want to think about how you can contribute to your family, your employer, your community, or to your employees.
This initial list will help you brainstorm and see ways in which you can have an impact. Afterward, you can use this to create a list of values that are the most important to you.
After you do the steps above, it is important to then identify concrete goals that you can accomplish in alignment with your values and contributions. You should consider your priorities in life and the goals which you have for yourself, then make a list of your short-term and long-term goals.
Having such concrete, direct goals is helpful in building and maintaining the motivation of business owners and employers.
Sean Douglas, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, and a TEDx Speaker & Speaker Mentor told us that goals are also extremely important to him in order to reach success.
When I think about mantras or a powerful phrase that inspires me to be my best self, I always say:
the daily tasks equal your weekly targets, weekly targets equal your monthly goal, and your monthly goals equal your 1-year vision. Start with the end in mind.
To Douglas, an extremely important part in making goals is also breaking them down into achievable, smaller goals. It is manageable to work on small tasks that add up to equate something bigger while keeping the end in sight.
For some businesses and individuals, a way to continue to grow motivation is through their consumers. Sean Higgins, CEO of BetterYou says that his company’s mantra has always been:
It doesn’t matter how much sense it makes on the whiteboard, the customer decides what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s your job to talk to them. This has helped us stay close to the user and find success in our own journey these past 2 years.
For Higgins and his team, their main motivation comes from pleasing the consumer. This is a great source of motivation as it is always changing and forces Higgins and the company to stay on their toes, ready to pivot and adapt.
For some people, that entrepreneurial mindset and motivation are all they know. Anastasia Pash, founder, and CEO of Globetrotter VR, has always been motivated and ambitious, and for her, it paid off.
Pash initially found it extremely difficult to let go of the things her critics were saying but she did not let the lack of support or investors deter her.
In spite of this lack of external support and validation, I still followed my curiosity and gut instinct. In 2019, I was accepted into an incubator program where I had the chance to work out a scalable business model and learn about startup methodologies.
In early 2020, we released a prototype tour, just when the world was going into lockdown. The timing for virtual travel was never better due to the global travel restrictions.
Pash’s story goes to show that by far, the most important part of creating a business is believing in it. No matter how cheesy that sounds, with steady and unwavering motivation, you can achieve way more than you may initially believe.
What are the best ways for entrepreneurs to stay motivated?
Maintaining your motivation is just as important as it is for entrepreneurs to find their motivation. Keeping yourself motivated is an extremely important part of running a business.
If you lose your motivation, it will be hard for you to ensure that your company remains competitive and thriving. To keep yourself motivated and to find new sources of motivation, it is really important to find new things to be excited about or new things to strive for.
Chris Vaughn, CEO of alcohol delivery service Saucy, responded to our question by saying this about how he keeps his motivation:
I like to tell myself never to get too comfortable.
There’s always a new goal to achieve or a new project to start. Always strive for something greater.
Vaughn, like many other CEOs, believes that the secret to extended success is to keep setting goals to work towards.
If you accomplish all of your goals without making new ones, then you are setting yourself up to lose motivation through stagnancy. For Vaughn, it is important for him to keep thinking of new goals to strive for, so his company never slows down due to a lack of ambition.
Another way to create and maintain motivation is through a company mission statement. All companies have it and for many, it does not serve the purpose it is meant to. Oftentimes, mission statements are ridiculed as being meaningless, useless statements presented by a company.
According to Hult International Business School, this is true to some extent. Very few companies actually do work to emphasize, communicate and practice their mission statements. For a company to stay true and committed to their mission statements, they need to put forth the effort to do so.
Hult brings up an alternative use of a mission statement. A personal mission statement. Instead of abiding a company to a mission statement without efforts to do so, Hult suggests creating a mission statement for yourself.
A mission statement for yourself can convey your personal goals, core values, and aspirations for yourself. Your personal mission statement should convey aspects of your personal brand and what you personally represent. When you create your statement, you should realize what you are striving to achieve, what matters to you, and what motivates you.
Hult writes that a personal mission statement can be a very powerful tool because it clearly defines your goals, allows you to more readily dismiss distractions, and ultimately provides a clear pathway to success. The key to success is hard work and motivation.
An article from India Times: Economic Times agrees with Hult’s sentiment. In the article, they write that
Ikigai is a Japanese concept that defines a person’s “reason for being”.
This reason for being is a huge motivator for many and can take the form of a personal statement. Finding your Ikigai requires some degree of trial and error.
You may realize that you love your job but you can’t stand your boss, so then you realize that you want a different job in the same career. Or, you could realize that you really don’t like the industry you work in and want to change that entirely.
Finding your Ikigai is a trial of seeing what fits you and what does not. When you find it, that is when you will be able to realize your full potential.
In Stephen Covey’s book, he highlights 7 habits of highly successful people. The second habit he stresses the importance of is to “begin with the end in mind”. When you are creating your goals and deciding what to make your personal mission statement, it is important to think about the future.
If you make your mission statement and goals align with what you are doing now, then you are going to become complacent and probably lose your motivation. To work up your motivation and retain it for the long haul, it is important to make your goals and mission statement line up with where you want to see yourself in the long run.
The Science Behind Motivation
In an article from the Harvard Business Review, the authors write about the source of motivation. The scientific source. Motivation comes from a set of neurochemical networks that develop over time, as a result of the experiences you have.
This means that the best way to support and grow your motivation is to support internal drivers with the right kind of external feedback. To keep this positive feedback and to continue to grow your motivation, it is important to continue to set goals and then reach those goals. This will scientifically drive you to become more motivated.
All in all, the most important part about being a startup founder or a small business owner, is your motivation.
If you lose that, you will feel yourself slipping away from your role and the lack of motivation will likely transcend onto your team.
To ensure that your business is running smoothly and your business will continue to grow and change with the times, you must find what motivates you, and continue to focus on it.