Posted by Colin Ransom on 01 Sep 2014

Okay so being self-employed and running your own business most definitely has its benefits; I could make a list of dozens, but I won’t!

One of the biggest pitfalls, however, can be staying motivated when there’s no one to push you, or to encourage you, or to just tell you that you’re doing ok.

I’ve come up with a checklist (I do love a list!) of small things that make a big difference in those times when it’s easy to feel like we’re not getting anywhere:

  • Make a list (ha!) – before I finish for the day, I always make a list of everything I need to achieve the following day, at what time I will do it, and how long I think it will take. This not only makes me feel organised, but I can then switch off for the evening/weekend, meaning I can focus on other, non-work things.
  • Pick up the phone – talk to someone. Peers and friends are good. Consider having a coach who will work with you to find the best way to accomplish a certain task; or a business mentor, who can share their experience with you. Chances are they’ll have been through exactly what you’re going through now and you know what it’s like; a kind word and empathic ear can bring light to a seemingly insurmountable problem.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize (as it were) – It’s worth remembering why you’re doing all of this.
  • Refer back to your business plan. See how far you have travelled. You’ll probably be quite amazed, actually.
  • Reward yourself. It’s nice to be able to treat yourself with the money you have worked hard for. Promise yourself that after you’ve achieved whatever it is you’re doing, there will be some sort of reward.
  • Take time out. Plan stuff to do whilst not working. It’s really important to take a break and come back to work feeling refreshed and having a clear head.
  • Look after yourself. Remember your needs are as important as the next person’s. It’s good to give to and help others, but what cost does this present to me? There’s a fine line between having a generous nature and toxic people-pleasing.
  • Self-appraisal – am I still in the right business/job/career, or is it time to move on? Work is such a significant part of most people’s lives, and letting go in order to move on can be difficult. Become a detached observer, and look at the situation objectively; what would your advice be to a friend in your situation?

Most owner/operators are brilliant at what they do, but sometimes it’s useful to get external help with certain projects or issues that arise. Could you and your business benefit from a one-day-per-month business review with someone who knows your industry inside-out? This is an opportunity to discuss ideas/issues that arise and set targets for the coming month, and to review progress towards targets set the previous month. Meetings like this are invaluable and deliver excellent results. You may already have the answers, and just need someone to help you work through them, decide on those that’ll work best, and turn them into a structured action plan. Either way, it’s worth considering making such an investment in yourself and your business.

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