This is a guest article by Tom Drake, the founder of Online Money, where he writes about his online business techniques. Tom is helping me (Luke Landes) organize this year’s Plutus Awards, an award ceremony honoring the best financial blogs, bloggers, products and services, which will be featured at this coming October’s Financial Blogger Conference. I don’t normally write about the business of blogging, but Tom has expertise to share that is relevant to anyone with any business goals.
Every once in a while, I find myself in a slump. For me, slumps are dangerous because I work with many partners. When I’m done with my day job and my kids are in bed, I spend more than four hours every night working with my blogging and writing partners. I help build blogs into profitable businesses, and if I’m slumping, it affects their profits, as well as my own income based on my partners’ success.
Everyone running a business feels the slump on occasion. You might be feeling a little burned out and tired. Perhaps you just feel stuck in a rut, and you can’t get out. Most of my slumps are based in a lack of motivation or procrastination. That means I have no one to blame but myself. If you find yourself just going through the motions with your own business, you’re probably experiencing the same thing. If minimal effort is enough, you’re in a slump.
When I enter this slump with my business, I either need to boost my motivation or watch my business suffer. Here are some tips I’ve been using to get motivated once I’ve recognized the situation. The danger is that a slump can claim your business, destroying any success you’ve had, so consider these tips.
Look for inspiration
Sometimes, we get stuck looking inward and forget to look outward for inspiration. Find something that inspires you, whether it’s someone else’s story, or the plight of a customer or reader that encourages you to develop a new product or write a new article that addresses their need.
You can also network with people who have similar businesses or goals. Having a conversation with someone could lead to that breakthrough you’re looking for in your business.
You might just need a little inspiration to spark some motivation and get those creative juices flowing. So call a colleague, email a friend, or otherwise start a conversation. Talk about what you’re working on. You may find motivation just by talking about your work.
Work on one goal at a time
One of the biggest issues for many entrepreneurs is feeling overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. Rather than trying to figure out how you’re going to accomplish all your goals, narrow it down. I find I can get out of my slump if I start with one important goal and avoid any distractions. You can have an easier time getting motivated if you know that you are dedicated to one manageable purpose, instead of being paralyzed by that ever-growing to-do list.
Distractions draw focus away from your purpose for the day. I find myself distracted by television and social media. Even though social media is a tool I use in my business, I can easily waste hours with social media without making progress on actual work. When I realize what I’m doing, I will set aside blocks of time to strictly focus on one task.
Take a break
Sometimes your slump comes because you are burned out. If this is the case you can learn how to get motivated with the help of a break. Take a day off. Go do something you really enjoy. Perhaps all you need to do to find that motivation again is to read a good book for two or three hours, or get out in the fresh air and play with your kids.
One thing I’ve been trying to correct lately is my sleeping habit. I need to make sure I get enough sleep. Sometimes it’s easy to get on a roll working late at night, only leaving a few hours left for sleep. However, too many nights in a row like this add up and then you end up staying “busy” but not really operating at a productive level.
Clear your head, and then come back ready to tackle your business anew.
Start something new
Few things are as energizing and motivating as a new project. If you have your business pretty well running like clockwork, consider starting something new. This can be putting a new idea into action within your current business, or it can be a completely new business venture. Many serial entrepreneurs keep their motivation level high by creating successful businesses, selling them, and then starting over again on a new business.
I turn to Adam Baker as one of my favorite serial entrepreneurs. He has published blogs, written e-books, designed courses, and even produced a documentary. Baker’s always moving in a new direction rather than just staying with familiar and comfortable projects.
Whether you start a new hobby to provide you with a needed break on occasion, or whether you begin a completely new business, consider starting something new as a way to boost your motivation with your business.
Recognize your successes
One of the best ways to boost your motivation is to recognize your successes. This is going to be difficult if you haven’t set a goal first. For the first couple years, I worked as hard as I could and business continued to improve, but it wasn’t until I set definite goals relevant to my blog building business — mainly the number of visitors coming to the websites and the amount of income — that I could truly recognize that my efforts were a success.
Once you know what your success looks like and you begin to see it, you should celebrate. When you take the time to celebrate even your small victories, it can provide you with an interest in accomplishing more. Start small, and then build. Pay attention to your successes, and what you do well. You can even get help from your support system. When you celebrate with friends, and enjoy their recognition, that can be even more motivation.
It’s not always easy to know how to get motivated in your business. But if you are in a slump, you need to recognize the problem, and take steps to overcome the situation. Your business will be better for it.
Updated June 23, 2016 and originally published July 4, 2013. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.