Being a sole entrepreneur can be an exhilarating experience. Witnessing your seed of an idea take root and begin to grow is both fulfilling and exciting. There are many benefits of being your own boss – you set your own hours and have the freedom to call all the shots, not to mention never having to worry about a boss breathing down your neck. What’s not to like?
However, despite the freedoms and the fulfilment that come with working as a sole trader or a blogger, there can be a few down sides too. When the going gets tough – as it does for any business at times – the buck stops with you. It can be exhausting trying to find new clients, frustrating trying to balance the books, and difficult to deal with the isolation some people feel when working alone, particularly those who work from a home office and have little to no contact with others during the working week.
During these more trying periods, many entrepreneurs find that they lose their motivation to keep going, and it can be difficult to maintain focus when there is nobody to hold you accountable.
If this sounds like where you’re at right now, check out the following tips for regaining your momentum, and you’ll recover your mojo in no time!
Create a pre-work routine
One of the worst habits work-from-home entrepreneurs can fall into is self-neglect and slovenly behaviour. It is just so tempting to roll out of bed a mere 10-15 minutes before you should really be starting work, only to find that you are still in your pyjamas and haven’t showered or eaten anything when the working day begins.
These kind of bad habits can trigger self-loathing and can even lead people down a slippery slope into depression, neither of which are conducive to feeling motivated and energetic. Resisting this sort of behaviour is essential if you want to be a successful – and healthy! – entrepreneur.
Allowing yourself enough time between getting up and starting work is the key. It will then be possible to develop a pre-work routine, which can really encourage and motivate you to get started in the morning and is also a great way to maintain your physical and mental health.
Create a list of tasks and activities that need to be done before your workday starts, so that there is a clear delineation between your working life and your personal life. These can be simple activities such as having a shower, brushing your teeth and getting dressed, preparing a healthy breakfast, doing a 10 minute workout or yoga routine, going for a 20 minute jog, and/or reading a newspaper, book, magazine or online article for 15 minutes.
This way, by the time you come to sit at your desk – or whatever else it is you do – you will feel refreshed, energised, less tired and stressed, and much more motivated and ready for whatever the day brings.
Take frequent breaks
Nothing kills motivation quite like burnout. Whether your work entails sitting in front of a screen all day, driving for hours on end, carrying out physical labour, or serving customers on your feet all day, you will be much more productive if you give yourself at least three 20-30 minute breaks or four or five 10-15 min breaks, spread evenly throughout the day. Failing to take these breaks is likely to lead to limited focus and decreased motivation later in the day, which can prove to be extremely counter-productive.
During your breaks, grab a drink and a snack, and make sure you actually step away from your desk, sit in a different room, or go for a walk, rather than eating and drinking at your desk. You will find that a few minutes away from your physical work location – and, even better, some fresh air – will help you to clear your head, reset your focus, and regain your motivation.
Attend workshops, business meet-ups and conferences
A great way to give your motivation a boost is to shake up your routine once in a while by attending events, such as relevant business conferences, professional development workshops, and local business meet-up groups.
These days, there is a temptation for business owners to carry out all their networking online. However, virtual communication can never beat good old-fashioned face-to-face conversation. If you can carry out your in-person networking at business events with a plan and an open mind, you will reap several benefits.
Aside from the obvious marketing opportunities and other benefits of networking, you will be able to keep up with industry trends and developments, take advantage of valuable business opportunities, be inspired by others in your field, and enjoy friendship and support from like-minded entrepreneurs. This will help you to feel less alone and should also re-ignite your enthusiasm for your work.
Track your progress
Of course, monitoring progress is essential for success in any business, as it can help business owners to spot trends, catch minor issues before they become major problems, and enable them to see which marketing methods and sales techniques are and aren’t working.
But scheduling and prioritising tasks and creating lists also helps to keep entrepreneurs motivated, as there is a great sense of achievement when completing each task and crossing it off a list. It can also help sole traders to regain focus when unforeseen distractions arise.
When tracking your progress, it’s also important to set yourself some goals. If you don’t have smart objectives to work towards, you’re not going to have anything to measure against. Whether it’s an overall goal for the year or your goal for the day, without it you progress will be incredibly difficult to track.
Use productivity tools
Most entrepreneurs who work independently realise the importance of maximising productivity to achieve commercial success. However, despite the best-laid plans, modern life is full of distractions that constantly threaten to throw us off course and divert our focus from what is most important.
Not only can they be fun to use, but productivity tools – such as apps for scheduling, communicating and book-keeping more efficiently – can really help to boost motivation. Many people gain a deep satisfaction from working in a more efficient and organised manner, and productivity tools can really help with this. Some of these tools – such as Habitica, Todoist Karma, and EpicWin – are designed like games which make them even more enjoyable to use as entrepreneurs attempt to “win the game.”
Display a few powerful affirmations
Affirmations can help entrepreneurs to overcome negative self-talk and keep themselves motivated. Negativity sucks our energy, and it is so easy to allow our mindset to slip into a downward spiral where the focus is more concentrated on our failures rather than our successes.
If we allow this to happen subconsciously, it can really knock our self-confidence and result in a much-reduced faith in our own abilities. This is why it is crucial for entrepreneurs to remain optimistic in the face of setbacks and obstacles.
Gather together a few images and quotes that truly resonate with you personally, and place them in a prominent position in your workplace. Then remember to monitor your own mental self-talk, and refer to them any time you feel your positivity plummeting.
Seek out inspiration
Inspiration is a huge driving force behind most motivated entrepreneurs. Inspiration is something that taps into and connects you with your deepest emotions, and it can come from a variety of sources.
As well as the more obvious sources of inspiration – such as art, literature and music – many people find themselves inspired by others’ stories about overcoming real-life challenges. In fact, this is often the fundamental driving force behind an individual’s passion for a particular field, and their desire to improve people’s lives in some way.
If you open your eyes, ears and heart to what is going on around you in the world, you will find inspiration everywhere. Keep being inspired and you will find all the motivation you need.