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    18 June 2010

    FlameWhether 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!

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    23 Responses to 5 Tips for Fueling the Entrepreneurial Flame

    1. Nancy Shields June 18, 2010 at 5:29 am #

      I really enjoyed reading this blog and glad you wrote to advise that we all go through discouragement at time and how perserverance is key in starting a new business. Stay focused on your passion and have the determination and drive.

    2. Laptop Briefcases June 18, 2010 at 10:44 am #

      Great post Matthew. Almost every business owner will go through discouragement or setbacks. To be successful you need to figure out how to overcome those problems. Another way to stay motivated is to keep reminding yourself of your goals, both short term and long term. If you are working towards something you really want to achieve, it is much easier to keep working hard. Too many people get caught up in the monotony of their business and lose sight of their goals.

    3. Scott June 18, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

      Implementation is the key. You will never know if the flame will keep burning if you don’t implement your plan.

    4. Komodo Dragon June 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

      A really great idea is when you first begin to write down why it is you started in what it is you do. Write something inspirational, for when you get really down, you have a reminder of why you started. Sometimes… after you’ve been in it for so long… you need a little reminder of your old self to boost your current self. Does that make sense to you guys?

    5. JohnAtBlogtrepreneur June 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

      @Komodo: Makes sense to me! Sounds like a great way to remind yourself of that initial excitement. Thanks for sharing.

    6. Martin June 18, 2010 at 10:24 pm #

      Excellent tips. You’ve just shared valuable information with small business owners.

    7. Samantha Milner June 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

      Hi guys,

      I feel empower and ready to do anything that I want to do. Thanks for sharing.

      Kind regards,

    8. Valentine Belonwu June 20, 2010 at 7:24 am #

      Thanks for sharing this great article and i must tell you the simple truth that this post had set my spirit high to work hard and focus even if am facing any kind of challanges or setback. being entrepreneur is not an easy task but i will follow your advice and work hard.

      Just lanuched my own entrepreneur blog on monday and i believe it will make some positive changes to other people’s mind.

      Thanks for sharing and God bless!.

    9. JohnAtBlogtrepreneur June 20, 2010 at 9:17 am #

      @Valentine: Glad you’re inspired by the post. Good luck to you in your new venture, and thanks for sharing!

    10. Escort Service London June 21, 2010 at 2:48 am #

      The world is full of better alternatives for those willing to change their routines. Become an entrepreneur in your everyday life. Thank for giving us those tips.

    11. season episode June 21, 2010 at 7:21 am #

      You can try and turn negativity from others into something positive. In fact it can give you a real boost sometimes if you know how to harness this energy. instead of feeling like the odds are against you and everyone expecting you to fail you should prove them wrong, get angry, push yourself and show them who was right.

    12. JohnAtBlogtrepreneur June 21, 2010 at 7:44 am #

      @season: You are so right. I’ve always found in my own life that a great way to get me to do something is to tell me it can’t be done. That is a strong motivator for many entrepreneurs. Good point. Thanks for sharing!

    13. Credit Girl June 21, 2010 at 9:20 am #

      Another thing I’d recommend is surrounding yourself with the right network. Join and befriend those who have similar interests as you.

    14. graceleelaw June 21, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

      Great tips – keep your eye on the prize no matter how many people tell you it can’t be done! It CAN! Go for it and definitely surround yourself with positive role models who encourage you to take risks. It WILL pay off.

    15. mondex1 June 21, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

      I never knew I would be getting any motivation now to be entrepreneur again. Before when I used to have a dimsum franchise business, I’ve got a lot of negative comment from my very own partner in life. That I was his failure. From then on, I lost my drive to be successful in entrepreneurial industry. But after reading this, it made me realize that ITS ALL ABOUT ME. Thanks again for lifting my spirit high and bringing back my self esteem and confidence that I will be a successful entrepreneur one day.

    16. JohnAtBlogtrepreneur June 22, 2010 at 9:28 am #

      @mondex1: Go for it! Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re a failure! There is no such thing as failure – only opportunities to learn from mistakes and move on. Whatever your dream, follow it. You’ve only got one life, so don’t waste it with “could have, should have, would have” and don’t waste it with people who try to bring you down. Best of luck to you, and keep us posted.

    17. Corinne June 22, 2010 at 10:33 am #

      Matthew- These are some great tips. Unfortunately, the majority of the criticism does come from our family and friends, but it’s the entrepreneur’s job to overlook that and show them that they can be successful. I’m a big believer in planning too- it definitely helps you get things done. And it doesn’t hurt to take a break from the workday to go for a walk or even take a power nap. In fact, in the long run you will probably get more done.

    18. Komodo Dragon June 24, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

      Thank you John, I gathered that idea when I was flipping threw some old papers of mine, and I read what my past self had to say, and it was a wake up call for sure, and a great motivational thing.

    19. Andrew @ Blogging Guide June 28, 2010 at 1:51 am #

      I totally agree with #2. Always think positive, never dwell on negativity. Because once you’re bitten with negativism then even if you can, you’ll think that you can’t. That is the most depressing situation an entrepreneur can be in.

    20. Mark Nasri June 28, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

      There is also one crucial point: Believe in yourself and believe that everything that you dream is true.

    21. Visiam July 18, 2010 at 12:06 pm #

      Great topic and a couple of thoughts!

      Know yourself!

      What circumstances give you energy?Surround yourself with the circumstances that contribute to your attitude.

      Break down your business plan into short term sprints that Measure “progress versus activity” and feed off of achieving it.

      Be thankful for hard times because how you handle change or circumstances is the gauntlet that will separate your success from the pack of “want to bees”.

      • Liz Cezat January 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

        Excellent points Visiam! I’m going to print them for my motivational file. The blog post is wonderful because it gives concrete steps on how to succeed at your dream. Working the plan is critical and probably the hardest to do. Building up a team of supporters – especially for solo-preneurs – helps you get past the isolating aspects of “doing it alone.” Actively networking, making the calls, setting up the meetings – that drive and feedback will help fuel business success like nothing else.

    22. Robert Jordan August 31, 2010 at 8:59 am #

      Great point on history- a good way to avoid mistakes is by learning from others’ successes and failures.

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