Solopreneur motivation is easy to talk about, but really hard to maintain in real life. Many causes can easily bring it down. Lack of time and energy to do everything you think you should is one demotivator. Another is the delay that is inevitable in seeing results. A third is the frustration of not being able to spend to get help when you need it most. A fourth could be not getting the kind of customers you really want. Since solopreneurs have no one else to turn to, pulling up their flagging motivation is also their responsibility. That’s a tough ask, for sure … but hear these tips from others who’ve found their own ways to boost enthusiasm.
- Instead of to-do lists that cause despair, have a “done list” that motivates
- Itâs important to remember every day the real reason you became a solopreneur
- Align your business with your lifestyle and use “Personal Penalty Pacts”
- Treat yourself … rewards are responsible for 75% of personal motivation
- Change from brainwork to mindless bodywork … to get the juices flowing again
- Simplify overwhelm … so you can do the tasks that really move the needle
- Go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm and an upbeat attitude
- Even working alone you can surround yourself with helpful experienced mentors
- Finding innovative ways to work around with less money can be very motivating
- Goals, budgets, plans, and routines are motivation aids as much as business aids
- Demotivation an happen at any time in business, even after you’ve succeeded
- Business is a marathon, not a sprint …pace yourself, celebrate small wins
- Balancing your workload and setting limits is crucial part of staying motivated
- Don’t be the lone wolf slowly dying inside because isolation is productive
- De-motivation is an ailment … stand up to the challenge through innovative ideas
- Thereâs a difference between being alone and feeling lonely (which is demotivating)
- Ditch motivation (aka feel good) and choose tenacity (aka willpower) instead
- We may be demotivating ourselves by perceiving productivity as it’s in 9-5 jobs
VIDEO: Lydia Lee explains the tricks up her sleeve in “How I Stay Motivated As A One Woman Solopreneur Business” (Must watch: 18:04 minutes)
It can be difficult to continuously feel motivated as a one-woman/man business owner, especially when your time and focus is limited. In this fascinating video, Lydie Lee shares how she stays motivated. She has four tips that can help you too find creativity and flow being solopreneur.
1. Instead of to-do lists that cause despair, have a “done list” that motivates
Caroline Castrillon in the article “Four Powerful Ways To Stay Motivated As A Solopreneur”:
“According to Oprah Winfrey, âThe more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.â As a solopreneur, if you donât celebrate small milestones along the way, you are going to lose the motivation and drive to continue.
So, the key is not to tie how you feel to your long-term goal but to the progress that you are making. The better you feel about yourself and your progress, the more likely it is that you will continue to put in the work that will help you reach your dream.
One way to track your progress is by creating done lists. Most people are familiar with to-do lists, but few are familiar with done lists.
A done list is a diary of your accomplishments that gives you a sense of progress, heightens positive emotions and helps you to stay motivated. â
2. Itâs important to remember every day the real reason you became a solopreneur
Hillel Coren in the article “Solopreneurs Fuel Motivation”:
“Zig Ziglar once said, âPeople often say that motivation doesnât last. Well, neither does bathing â thatâs why we recommend it dailyâ.
Motivation is a mindset that needs daily cultivation. You have it naturally in the early days of a new business adventure but like anything in life, that early enthusiasm recedes over time. Luckily, by actively fueling your motivation, you can repeatedly bring renewed energy and dynamism to your work. So how do you go about doing this, day after day, week after week, especially during the bad times?
When youâre working long hours and facing a million and one different tasks, it can be easy to forget why you built your business in the first place. Thereâs a temptation to grumble and wish youâd never started down the career path you did. But there was a reason why you started and also an emotion behind it.
Itâs important to remember the real reason why you became a solopreneur. Remind yourself every morning why you do what you do and the feelings you had in those early weeks and months. Concentrate on your desired goal and the resulting emotions you know youâll feel when you reach that target.â
3. Align your business with your lifestyle and use “Personal Penalty Pacts”
Hanson Cheng in the article “How To Stay Motivated As A Solopreneur: 6 Strategies That Work”:
“Align your business with your lifestyle. A solopreneurâs business inevitably overlaps with off-work activities. If the overlap leads to stress, fatigue or time lost, motivation suffers. Thatâs why aligning your lifestyle with your business is a good way to stay motivated.
Hereâs an example of aligning life with work: If you enjoy socializing after work, keep a schedule that leaves evenings open. Another example: If youâre a young parent, find ways to give yourself distraction-free time when working from home. By making decisions like these, you can stay fulfilled as an individual and a professional â and keep your solopreneur motivation high.
Also use a spin on an idea from Nir Eyalâs excellent book, âIndistractibleâ. The concept is simple; as humans, we dread losses more than we crave wins. Creating situations where we have something to lose is one of the most powerful ways to find motivation.
One way to create these situations is through Personal Penalty Pacts. These are personal promises which, if broken, result in penalties. Hereâs an example of one: âIf I donât run 12 miles this week, Iâll burn a $100 note come Friday.â Personal Penalty Pacts work very well for deadlines and other scenarios where you need a short-term burst of motivation. Theyâre less effective for long-term goals, at least in my experience.”
4. Treat yourself … rewards are responsible for 75% of personal motivation
Leif Abraham in the article “5 Ways to Feign Motivation as a Solopreneur”:
“Letâs face it: Sometimes itâs not enough to have a plan or course of action to meet our goals. We need that extra gear, an added level of inspiration that holds us accountable for achieving daily victories.
Research shows that rewards are responsible for 75 percent of our dedication and personal motivation.
The simplest reason why they are so effective and helpful? They make us feel good from the very start of a project to the very end. We get excited selecting a reward, and as we roll up our sleeves, itâs in the back of our mind as we make progress on the task. It provides us with enjoyment and a sense of pride by reinforcing or accomplishments when we are finally over the finish line.
The moral of the story? Treat yourself. Maybe your ideal reward is crushing a workout or going to a concert; or maybe itâs staying in with a glass of wine and a good Netflix movie. Whatever you choose, make sure you are unplugged from your work completely and allow this time to be fully devoted to yourself.”
5. Change from brainwork to mindless bodywork … to get the juices flowing again
Kate Winkler in the article “20 ways to stay motivated as a solopreneur”:
“Feeling stuck? Get your adrenaline going a quick run, walk or a few yoga poses. Greatist also an excellent series of fun exercises can be completed at your desk, including chair dancing.
Break up tough projects with smaller, less involved tasks. Spend 10-15 minutes completing administrative tasks, such as filing or cleaning out your downloads folder. Youâll give your brain a rest, and check off a few pesky to-do items.
Running a personal errand helps gets you out of the house, takes your mind off work, and gives you some time to focus on yourself. Youâll return to your work ready to get back to business, having knocked out those nagging to-dos.
Drawing, writing a poem or singing a song all activate different parts of the brain and can spark new ideas. Spend a few minutes doodling or down a story idea to restore your motivation. You can also challenge your brain by performing tasks with your non-dominant hand. Switching the mouse to the other side, for example, refocuses your brain and increases creativity.”
6. Simplify overwhelm … so you can do the tasks that really move the needle
Amy Lynne Hayes in the article “How I Stay Motivated As A Solopreneur”:
“Overwhelm is the ultimate killer of productivity. In order for me to stay motivated as a solopreneur, I must narrow my focus, and simplify.
Simplifying is at the core of everything I teach my clients. When you can strip away all the distractions â the mindless scrolling, the checking your email (again), the organization of files that have backed up on your desktop, etc. â you are left with the tasks that will actually move the needle.
Itâs like watching the juiciest apples float to the top of the water trough. Then you can pick one, and ONLY one, and see it through to completion.
Finishing one task creates momentum to move onto the next, and then the next, and so on until you find a groove and motivation is no longer an issue.”
7. Go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm and an upbeat attitude
Janet Miller in the article “7 Exciting Ways to Stay Motivated As A Solopreneur”:
“Realize that you will encounter setbacks. To succeed, you have to be able to go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. The most successful people welcome failure. Even when something does not go according to plan, learn from each setback, fine-tune and keep going.
Like Thomas Edison once said, âI have not failed, Iâve just found 10,000 ways that wonât workâ. Some people take a shorter time to achieve their goals while others take a longer time, but it doesnât matter, because at the end of the day, you would still have made it.
Always have an upbeat attitude to your business. See what you are doing for others and how it benefits them in more ways than one. Embrace a light-hearted perspective to your business and its infectious quality would influence your customers as well.
As social mammals, we humans tend to get affected and be put down by failures or criticism from others when in fact, a positive attitude helps you balance the negativity generated and put you back on your feet in no time. Convert that negative energy into positive energy; a critical comment can always be converted into positive, constructive feedback.”
8. Even working alone you can surround yourself with helpful experienced mentors
Betty White in the article “5 Tips for Staying Motivated as a Solopreneur”:
“When there are no people who will push you because they have to, you need to find people who will do it because they want to. Supportive friends and family are the air that will keep your boat afloat. Aside from helping you feel less alone, they can provide valuable feedback from a different perspective.
It can become hard to see the forest for the trees when you focus on something for too long, so a fresh pair of eyes can come in handy at times. Even when they don’t understand your business talk, a simple “You can do it!” and a pat on the back are always appreciated.
If you are inexperienced in the whole hustle thing, it might be a good idea to look for a coach or a mentor. A coach will help you achieve your goals faster by teaching you how to stop wasting your time. They will help you see which aspects of your work need improvement so you’ll become more confident and productive.
Although somewhat less intense, a mentor’s approach can lead to powerful changes as well. You likely won’t see results right away. A mentor will help you build your business foundation gradually by developing the right skills and mindset. Experienced individuals who have achieved exceptional results in your area of business can do wonders for your motivation.”
9. Finding innovative ways to work around with less money can be very motivating
Milap Shah in the article “Top 10 motivation tips for Solo Entrepreneurs”:
“Funds and resource constraints are common challenges for any business whether big or small. At times it could get frustrating and demotivating.
Making the best use of available resources is a talent that very solopreneur must have. Finding innovative ways to work around with fewer resources can be highly satisfying.
Keeping yourself motivated every day is not humanly possible. There will be days you will be all pumped up to achieve your goals and also days when starting your day itself will be a major task.
It is okay to let go at times, take a break and relax. It will help to come back with more passion and rigor.”
10. Goals, budgets, plans, and routines are motivation aids as much as business aids
Mariah Tomkinson in the article “5 Ways To Stay Motivated As A Solopreneur”:
“You must have a plan and goals in place to give you direction. Why are you running your business? What do you want to be working towards? Why are you working so hard keep your business running? What goals are going to keep your business growing?
You should also have a routine to your day. When you have a job, you have to go in at a certain time and you are expected to do work. You need to treat your business with the same respect and give it structure. Sure you get to set that structure, but you need some kind of structure. Routines actually help to keep you motivated because you donât have to keep making so many decisions every minute of every day.
our budget and financial goals should be the backbone of what is driving your business. Without financial goals, you have a very time consuming hobby, you happen to be calling a business. If you donât have a plan to go after the dollars, you arenât taking your business seriously enough.
Do you know how much you are making? Do you keep track of your profit (revenue-expenses=profit)? What is your financial goal for the year? What is it per month? How many products or services do you have to sell to reach that goal?”
11. Demotivation an happen at any time in business, even after you’ve succeeded
Josh Schachnow in the article “What To Do When You Need Motivation or Feel âOffâ”:
“But every once in a while, for as long as Iâve been working on my solopreneur business, I will go through a phase like this every once in a while. Do you know what iâm talking about? Hard to describe in words, but itâs kind of a combination of boredom, lack of excitement and doubt in whatâs going on.
I thought that once I became a âsuccessful solopreneurâ (however you want to define thatâ¦), this would stop. I would reach a point where I âmade itâ (not that Iâm rich by any stretch of the imagination) and always be happy and satisfied. It seems that this doesnât really exist in entrepreneurshipâ¦ and especially solopreneurship.
Anyway, it got me thinking of what helps me the most to get out of these phases. Realize itâs just a phase. The world is not ending, the business is still moving forward and you have your health, family, friends, etc. Donât let a few weird days make you jump ship.
Another thing to focus on when going through tough times is monitoring your motivation levels by reading success stories, or listening to podcasts, or journaling.”
12. Business is a marathon, not a sprint …pace yourself, celebrate small wins
Nupur Tiwari in the article “Four Powerful & Practical Ways To Stay Motivated As A Solopreneur!”:
“That`s because good things and successful business take time to build up. Growing a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Being a solopreneur can rapidly become a 24×7 job if you are not careful. Especially during the early stages of a business, solopreneurs put in very long hours with no end in sight. And then it is just a matter of time when you become tired, exhausted, and discouraged.
Hence, finding a work-life balance is extremely important to keep working for the dream you have in your eyes and the passion in your heart.
The more you praise and celebrate your small wins in life; the life will give you more reasons to celebrate. As a solopreneur, it is crucial to celebrate small milestones along the way to keep your drive to run business and the motivation to do it, super high.
The key is not just to keep your eyes on your main goal, but also to enjoy the progress you are making. The better you feel about yourself and your progress, the more effort you will put in without feeling frustrated and discouraged.”
13. Balancing your workload and setting limits is crucial part of staying motivated
Raj Singh in the article “5 Useful Motivation Tips for Solopreneurs”:
“Balancing your workload is easier said than done, but itâs a crucial part of staying motivated. Studies show that small business owners tend to work longer hours than the average worker.
In the UK, companies canât make their employees work for any longer than 48 hours per week, but there are no such constraints on the self-employed. However, itâs definitely worth setting yourself a time limit to ensure that you stay both productive and sane.
You might not get it right at first, but keep on making small adjustments and find out what works for you. If you work too hard, youâll burn out but if you donât put enough hours in, you wonât make any progress – and youâll probably get bored.
Keep your long term goals in mind. Entrepreneurship is all about the big picture and it may be a while before you reap the rewards of all the hard work youâre putting in.”
14. Don’t be the lone wolf slowly dying inside because isolation is productive
Kimanzi Constable in the article “The Silent Threat Every Solopreneur Must Overcome”:
“Isolation drains your motivation. You feel mental and physical fatigue with no one but yourself to challenge you to push hard and consistently.
There are many great courses and coaches online. The courses alone can offer you the opportunity to network with people who are doing cool things and taking action on growing their business. However, before you take a course or hire a coach, be sure to check their testimonials and make sure they know what they are talking about.
Don’t be the constant lone wolf entrepreneur who is slowly dying inside because isolation is winning. Connect, learn, grow and help others and you will get back what you put in.
There are many ways to stay connected and be inspired. Use some that I mentioned here and figure out a few of your own. Don’t let the feeling of isolation keep you from creating the kind of life and business you want.”
15. De-motivation is an ailment … stand up to the challenge through innovative ideas
Grace Nasralla in the article “Easy Ways To Stay Motivated As A Solopreneur”:
“Solopreneurs are prone to lack motivation at times as they are alone in the frontline. If they fail to find ways to stay inspired to push further and cross milestones, de-motivation is an ailment that will hold back the progress of their entrepreneurial journey.
A positive start will set the tone for the day. Begin the day with a tasty breakfast and a good cup of coffee. Enjoy the company of family and friends or just read a good book! That should give the day a positive role and provide some energy to face work challenges.
Develop an attitude that seeks after knowledge and commit to learning, from your industry experts, one new thing a day. Designate time at the end of each day to research the latest business trends. Learning will cultivate motivation for the solopreneur.
Stand up to the challenge and find new ways for doing things. Instead of giving in to the routine, try to shuffle daily tasks; or come up with new ways to promote products. Think outside the box and develop services that will enhance existing client work and attract new prospects. Being innovative in operating a business will keep a solopreneur motivated and will increase productivity and enhance efficiency.”
16. Thereâs a difference between being alone and feeling lonely (which is demotivating)
Melody Wilding in the article “3 Wats To Beat The Solopreneur Blues”:
“Humans are social creatures. Even if youâre an introvert, we all crave and need social interaction. Connecting with others is beneficial for your mind and body, just like healthy diet and exercise.
If youâre working from home or known to be glued to your chair for 8 plus hours a day, make it a goal to get outside for a minimum of 10 minutes daily. This could be running an errand in the middle of the day, meeting up with someone for a drink, or working from a cafÃ©.
Networking events are a great way to surround yourself with interesting people, but if big groups arenât your thing, try gathering a small mastermind group together once a month. You also eat lunch and dinner every day (hopefully), so why not turn meals into an opportunity to connect with someone (rather than zoning out and watching TV)?
Remember, thereâs a big difference between being alone and feeling lonely. Being alone isnât always a bad thing. Some people cherish their alone time as a way to recharge and get their best thinking done. However, if your feelings of loneliness are persistent and worsening, the best thing you can do is speak up and reach out for help.”
17. Ditch motivation (aka feel good) and choose tenacity (aka willpower) instead
Jennie Mustafa-Julock in the article “Motivation Is A Solopreneurâs Worst Enemy”:
“Itâs been almost an hour since you got out of bed and youâre still not feeling motivated. After beating yourself up for what you havenât done yet, you finally bust out your to-do list and ask yourself a seriously dangerous question: what do I feel like doing?
If the scenario above resonates for you, then you are probably using motivation as your go-to productivity strategy – and itâs the worst strategy imaginable. This is where you hope that some external pressure (read: motivation) will come along and prod you into action.
While it does feel good, motivation is completely unreliable. Motivation relies on your emotions and your emotions are constantly changing. And as a solopreneur, you simply do not have the luxury of waiting to feel working on your top priorities. You need to get shit done! Immediately, if not sooner.
Ditch motivation and choose tenacity (aka willpower) instead. To stoke your tenacity, build and execute a solid Consistent Activities Plan. Develop a list of things you need to do daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, and quarterly to grow and upgrade your business. These are not things you want to do when inspiration strikes; these are hard and fast commitments that you will do whether you feel like it or not.”
18. We may be demotivating ourselves by perceiving productivity as it’s in 9-5 jobs
Ella Stuart in the article “Struggling With Productivity As A Solopreneur”:
“I came to realise quite early on that there are many structures, spoken and unspoken expectations that we, at times unwittingly, carry from our experiences as employees into our new roles as business owners. For example, expectations of how much time we should work every day to qualify as a âhard workerâ, like: âwe work 9-5 or until the boss says we can leaveâ and âlunch is 30 minutes, obviouslyâ.
Also, we quite literally or at least mentally had someone looking over our shoulder to check on what we were doing. We too might have felt the external pressure of competition: of staying one step ahead of our companyâs competitors or ahead of our colleagues, racing for that promotion. Looking outside of yourself for feedback and validation to know youâve done a good job is another.
As solopreneurs, these are both behavioural and mental patterns that weâve spent years of our life practising. It’s understandable then that we transfer some of these patterns, ways of working and expectations, into how we run our business and perceive its success.
Sometimes this is done consciously, because you know something works, and sometimes itâs unconscious, you donât realise until the copied pattern starts to cause friction: leading to frustration, lack of focus or demotivation. In my case, it was how I perceived âproductivityâ and the way I structured my time that manifested in me feeling at odds.”
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
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