Motivation can be tough for small business owners sometimes. Along with the challenges of closing deals and keeping your team on track, you have to keep going for your clients. But, what happens when real life starts to challenge your motivation as well? Where do you get the energy to keep reaching for excellence?
This past year, several of my colleagues have struggled with the constant happenings of life. Unexpected things don’t just happen in projects, but also in personal lives. It’s been a good reminder that during tough times, clients will still need their work. Employees will still need guidance. And, the businesses will still need attention. All of the pressure can result in depression, avoidance, and unavailability.
So, what can you do as a small business owner to overcome these challenges and stay motivated?
A potential solution is to surround yourself with people who care about your business as much as you do. People, who, when your motivation is lacking, can jump in and really take the wheel. But, to do that, you have to trust them and to really let them in, before the going gets rough. They can be family members, employees, or even consultants.
Caring about our clients’ health – their personal well-being as well as their business – is one of the main things I want the team at Beyond the Chaos to do. When our clients’ motivation or attention becomes an issue, we want to be able to jump in and take the reins for the short term. Many of our clients also have employees who support them in this way. Taking on this role involves some fairly distinct talents and skillsets.
When your boss or your client starts to lose motivation, you need to feel for them first. Put yourself in their shoes and ask how you can support them. If it is a personal issue the owner is tackling, your only option for providing support may be professional support. But, don’t doubt the comfort of having someone to lean on in that capacity.
Without the knowledge of how the business runs and is supposed to run, your trusted source might not be able to give you what you need. So, I always recommend that knowledge be shared. Whether this is by written processes or a few checklists, business owners need to enlist the help of someone on their team or a trusted consultant.
A few weeks back, my husband and I went through what he would need to do if I suddenly couldn’t service my clients – temporarily or permanently. It is a little eye-opening when you realize that you might not have communicated clearly. We use LastPass, which is great. But, if he doesn’t have the master password, it is of little value. These processes and exercises should be in place so you are ready in case of unprecedented personal challenges or true tragedy.
Lastly, the motivation of those you are counting on has to overcome your lack of it. So, make sure they have the motivation to carry you. They need to inspire you. They need to truly care about the success of your business. And you need to motivate them before they have to come to motivate you.
We’ve all worked with that client who is struggling. Sometimes it isn’t even motivation, but focus or overwork. And you have to carry that motivation for your client to fill in the gaps and to push projects ahead. So, it can be little things like that to bridge the gap as well.
In essence, what I’m saying is that leadership is part of preparing you for when/if this happens. Are you investing in those relationships now so that those you count on will be able to be motivated when the time comes?
Listen to them. Incorporate their good ideas early. Prepare them. Make sure they understand how you and your team are reaching for excellence regularly. Document those processes!