At the end of a recent workshop presentation there was some time for a few questions. A woman in the front row simply asked: “how do you stay motivated?” Hmmm. This actually took me a little by surprise. In point of fact, it was great. While pondering the presentation content, she was in her head engaged with her own business and its realities. She asked a very revealing and personal question, one we all have to wrestle with, which is where I started my answer. You first have to persevere. (In order to persevere, you must have faith: faith in yourself, faith in your idea and faith in your business endeavor.) Then, get out. (and do something.) Network, build a support system, and find a mentor. Yes, network. You’ve heard it a hundred dreaded times. But, to do it well takes effort, patience and more perseverance. Networking aligns with a time honored business principle – long term thinking and behavior.
It is a stewardship based activity giving of your time and talents for something important or worthwhile expecting nothing in return. By giving of yourself, you demonstrate your skills, passions and capabilities to those around you. Here’s the paradox: while doing this in a genuine way, you will be creating new relationships which will beget more new relationships and opportunities which you could not foresee. You will be doing good works along with other people accomplishing great things for organizations and communities. A real win – win. While networking, you will be establishing one kind of a support system, but you need other support systems too. Get involved with something avocational and fun. Places and activities where you can be with like minded people doing something non business related that you enjoy. Personally, my support systems involve surrounding myself with runners and musicians. That’s my thing, what’s yours? Being active and creative adds an outlet for and balance to your life. Actively pursuing outside interests makes you multi-dimensional, reduces stress and keeps you at your mental and creative best for your business. Lastly, find a mentor or group of peers to support and challenge you. This takes a serious and committed effort. It is investing in yourself and the others. By establishing a regular, structured venue with a high trust and respect environment, you have a built in sounding board and accountability system. Sharing struggles and successes and generating and sharing ideas is extremely beneficial. It is curious, that none of this has to do with working in the business, but the results and rewards bring returns to you and your business. Thriving in a small business takes constant creating and activity. Complacency is the enemy. Get out and get going!