Even the most passionate and inspiring entrepreneurs have down days, don’t fret – here’s how to stay motivated for your business
1. Congratulate yourself for what you’ve achieved already
We’re so used to being modest, putting ourselves down or having standards so high we rarely reach them, but by acting this way we’re dismissing the value of what we do. There are only so many days that anyone could stay motivated if they felt they were never doing enough or creating anything worthwhile. Combat it by losing the ‘only’, ‘just’, ‘but’s and ‘quite’s you use when you speak. E.g. Not ‘I do have a sort of website, but it’s not very good’ but ‘yes, I do have a website, would you like my card?’.
2. Have a good working space
Having a good chair, desk, music and some flowers or inspirational pictures around make for a great working space. If you’re working from home and you don’t have these resources, try mixing it up by working in libraries and tea shops as well as at home. In both cases it’s important to take short walks for sunlight and fresh air to keep the grey matter ticking over.
Your break can so easily be overlooked, but it’s what will keep you fresh and engaged in what you’re working on. It can also be a great way to ensure you give your own work a ‘second opinion’ to see you’re on the right lines and not wasting time on the wrong things.
3. Create the type of brand you always wanted to work for
If you are your own boss you have the freedom to create your dream company, and build something you’re proud of. Building a great brand won’t just make you more memorable and respected to clients; it will help you create the necessary distinction between your work and personal lives.
Even when you don’t feel a million dollars, your responsibility as your brand to communicate with your audience will keep your business afloat, and after some investment of time, your brand will bring you satisfaction in return.
You can’t do everything on the list all the time. If you do, the chances are you’re not doing everything to your best ability, or worse you’re not having a life at all or sleeping and eating well. This is a fast track to burning out and resenting your business, so instead look at your list and prioritise, simplify and delegate.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed think ‘What’s the absolute vital thing I need to do by tomorrow’ and write a couple of simple ways you can get started on that task.
If you manage that before the end of the day, go back to the list and work through the next most urgent or important task. Also, network with people and try to build a ‘skill bank’ so you can outsource work to them where needed, and help each other.
5. Take time to do the thing you came into it for
If you’re a photographer, go take pictures. If you’re a designer, sketch. Just for yourself. I know how hard it can be to ‘justify’ this to yourself when you have a million things to do, but if you can dedicate half a day a month to practicing your craft or inspiring yourself (without taking notes) you’ll be keeping your passion active, which is essential for a successful and credible business.
A business has to be involving, it has to be fun, and it has to exercise your creative instincts – Richard Branson
6. Have boundaries, and keep to them
Do you like to do Yoga every Wednesday afternoon? Do you prefer not to take work calls after 6pm, or do you spend time with your family every weekend?
Once in a while as a freelancer we may need to compromise these boundaries for particular jobs and projects, but it’s essential we don’t treat this time as an indulgence and let it get pushed out for any work duties. This time is what keeps you sane and is vital to your well-being.
Try blocking out your personal appointments in your calendar, and if you feel it may look unprofessional in front of clients, name them ‘Meeting with S’ (for self).
7. Remember that if you muck up, even in a big way, that it’s ok.
As entrepreneurs, we’re hardwired to be driven and it’s likely we’re perfectionists. While it’s great to work hard and aim high, we can often load too much pressure on ourselves, which increases our stress levels and can actually prevent us from adapting our ideas when we ought. Trust me, I’m the worst.
If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner – Tallulah Bankhead
If you do muck up, note what happened and reflect on why. Take time out to relax and recover, and don’t self chastise (there’s really no benefit in just beating yourself up, it doesn’t move you forwards). Remember that even if it’s a big muck up, it’s ok – tomorrow’s a new day and you can take steps to fix it.