Whether it was yesterday or fifteen years ago, at some point, you’ve felt – perhaps many times – that spark of inspiration and the rush that goes with it: The feeling in your gut that you’re onto something big, and nothing can stop you. No one ever said starting and running a business was easy though. Even first-time entrepreneurs recognize that challenges and obstacles are part of the deal when you’re in business for yourself. In fact challenges are exactly what many of us thrive on. The ability to overcome barriers and persist when others would quit is what makes entrepreneurs a special breed.
But even the most die-hard entrepreneurial spirits aren’t completely immune to discouragement, so what happens when that initial spark starts to become a fading memory as the challenges mount? Whether you’re trying to get on track or stay the course, we can all use a little help sometimes to make the magic happen.
Here are 5 useful tips to keep your entrepreneurial flame burning strong:
1. Plan your work – work your plan. Much of the discouragement that entrepreneurs face, especially while first starting their business, or during a period of sudden growth, can come from feelings of being overwhelmed. With some businesses, this is seemingly constant. For example, if you have a business where strict deadlines are the norm, you might feel like there isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. One way to avoid, or at least reduce, the pressures that might be dampening your entrepreneurial drive is to stick to a plan as much as possible. This isn’t about your business plan. It’s about a daily action plan that will keep you focused, not only on the details of your day, but on the big picture as well. A great way to devise such a plan is to ask yourself, what you have to do on a daily basis to achieve your objectives. Once you have the answer to that question, build your daily plan around those activities, and hire out or delegate as much of the other stuff as possible.
2. Guard against negativity – from others and from within. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to keep any spark alive while drowning in negativity and cynicism. Unfortunately, it’s often our own friends, family and peers who are guilty of feeding us negative energy. The answer is to think for yourself, stay focused on your dream, and get away when you need to. It’s a matter of priorities. No one’s suggesting you turn your back on a life-long friend and never speak to them again, but if they’re the type of person who only focuses on the negative, you have to decide if it’s worth spending less time with that person in order to stay in the frame of mind necessary to reach your goals. If it’s in your own nature to look at the world through pessimistic eyes, go to the next tip…
3. Fortify your mind. The self improvement movement has been in full swing in our culture for over 35 years now. Out of that has come enough material to keep you surrounded by positive words for the rest of your life. A search for the term “self improvement” on Amazon yields over 60,000 books, not to mention DVDs and audio programs in MP3 and CD. If books and audio aren’t enough, you can find countless seminars, retreats, workshops and camps, all designed to infuse your mind with positive energy and purpose. The point is, you have an opportunity to control what goes into your mind, and if what you choose to focus on is positive, uplifting, and motivating, you’ll be able to overcome obstacles more easily, ignore the negativity of the world around you, and keep your spark alive.
4. Embrace change. The only thing that never changes is the fact that everything changes. No matter how well thought out your business plan is, or how sure you are you’ve thought of every contingency, the unexpected will arise. Whether it’s a turn in the economy or a new technology that changes the face of your industry, sooner or later something will happen that you didn’t plan for. Often the difference between thriving or withering in these situations is an ability to embrace change and make it work for you. So rather than feeling beaten when things don’t go as planned, think of how this new or different set of circumstances can work in your favor. When you approach change this way, you’ll be surprised at what you can come up with. It might even ignite a new spark you would never have recognized otherwise.
5. Let history be your guide. Every successful person, from the Wright brothers and Walt Disney, to Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, and Donald Trump have experienced setbacks, disappointments, and internal doubt. While all of these great people accomplished amazing things, each of them had to overcome obstacles, just like you do. What they had, more than anything else, was a belief in their dream, an ability to focus on their goals, and most importantly, a sense of perseverance that pulled them through when they needed it most. The great thing is that none of those qualities are reserved for a select few. We can all access them.
Once you’ve used these tips, if you’re still having trouble staying motivated, do whatever you need to do – whether it’s reading an inspirational book, staring in the mirror and giving yourself a pep talk, or sitting on a rock meditating – to get back to that original feeling you had when the spark first hit. Remembering that moment and getting back into that frame of mind will keep you going through any challenge you face. No matter what the world throws at you, you do have the power to push through. Now, go do it!