By Kellye Dash, Owner of The Busy Buddy
The Busy Buddy offers Business Support Services throughout Tampa Bay to help busy entrepreneurs get things done!
Do you remember how you felt when you first decided to open your own business? What an incredibly feeling of excitement! Did you keep a notepad at your bedside for those nights when you wake with a great idea or drive down the road trying to find a pen and something to write on? What about your energy? You start with so much energy, passion and drive in the early days. You could hardly wait to start each new day. And then… the routine of day to day operations starts to linger and chip away at your excitement. This is NORMAL… for everyone! However, it’s how quickly you respond and what steps you take that matter most!
Unfortunately, motivation is tricky and not always easy to sustain. And, on top of that, the influx of new customers (or an unhappy customer) can be erratic. You can forget that there are times when you forget that there is a natural ebb and flow in all businesses. It’s easy to become anxious and discouraged. Even if you have a steady flow of customers, routine begins to set in, and you may feel that you have lost your edge.
If you are currently in a “slump,” be reassured that there are ways to re-energize yourself. Below we have identified some suggestions, but we’d also like to hear how overcame this temporary state of slumpiness (my word)!
Set specific goals that are achievable and can be tracked. For instance, as you create your long-term goals to direct the growth of your business, also set short-term goals to keep you moving forward. Write them down and revise them periodically if necessary. Staying on track gives you a feeling of accomplishment. It may not be the initial excitement like you felt at the beginning, but at least you know that you are not stagnating. And it does not hurt to enjoy rewards along the way. It can be as simple as having lunch with a special friend after meeting a goal or taking the afternoon off to go fishing!
Routinely network with other small business owners. Sharing ideas can help freshen business approaches and help you feel more confident in the path that you are taking. Don’t forget to attend social networking events for small business owners as well. A little fun can go a long way to minimize the effects of a temporary lag in motivation.
Take breaks during the day. If you are a type-A personality, you might work from sun-up to sun-down during a slump, not realizing that you are draining your own energy. Get some fresh air. If you don’t your days repeat themselves where you feel like Bill Murray in the movie “Groundhog Day.” (Great movie!) Take a walk or ride a bike for 30 minutes… even if you have to set a “reminder” on your list of daily tasks to give yourself permission to EAT, at least! I can’t say enough about building leisure-time into your day. Some of my best inspirations come when I’m taking a long walk by myself…I call it “meditation in motion.”
Remember what you love about your business… what was your original inspiration? Think about all the benefits that go along with small business ownership. If you are independent by nature and you once worked for a highly structured company, you can probably remember the thrill of breaking away from some of the bureaucracy and constraints that often go hand in hand with large businesses. Do you remember those early feelings of freedom? How about the time gained from eliminating commuting to and from your job in traffic?… Priceless!
Be conscious of the difference between personal habits that create success and those sneaky habits that can sabotage success. For instance, stay organized and don’t procrastinate. Procrastination is a slippery slope and can lead toward an eventual feeling of incompetence. However, being organized doesn’t mean to never shake things up. Periodically take a fresh look at your standard processes to see if you can infuse new ways of thinking and approaches. Rely on trusted allies to offer new ideas and perspectives.
Get inspired! Think about offering a temporary “added-value” to your best customers for no cost as a thank-you for their business. It’s a nice customer service gesture, and your customers may find that they want to pay for it as a continued feature. A grateful client who values your work and verbally praises your efforts can be a big boost to both your self-esteem and your level of motivation.
Consider mentoring someone who is just starting out as a small business owner. Sometimes focusing on someone else’s business helps you look at your own business in a fresh way. It’s also a great way to connect to peers in a very positive way.
Attend seminars that help support and encourage business owners, read or listen to motivational CDs (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey is a great one!).
Journal your feelings, both positive and negative. The simple act of writing down how you feel and seeing the words in black and white is immensely powerful.
One last tip we recently learned is to start the year off with a jar of thanks. Place a small note of any accomplishment or kind words that made you happy in the jar and at the end of the year read them all. It can be as big as a new business venture or as small as seeing a rainbow in the sky that made you smile.
These are just some ideas, but if you have other ideas that have worked for you, please share them!! We would love to learn about your experiences…and other readers will as well!