Small business owners are in a unique situation. They are expected to be a leader and the main motivator for others. But, who motivates them? It usually falls on them to self-motivate, which the majority of people do not know how to do effectively. Very few people are born knowing how to inspire and encourage themselves, they have to learn how and then practice it.
Will power is overvalued and misunderstood in our culture. People usually do not need more will power, what they really need is more discipline. Discipline is established through organization, habit and control, which, in part, is created by understanding how you are motivated. Once you know what drives you, you can create a blueprint to achieve your goals – even when your will power is fading or gone.
There are 5 common methods which motivate most people. Sometimes we use 1 method only, while other times we may use a combination of methods. We all have different ways to inspire ourselves, ways which work for us but not for others. These techniques are neither good nor bad, better or worse – just different.
Words – Individuals who are motivated by language need to hear or read words of affirmation, inspiration, and instruction from others, as well as themselves.
Steve was accountable only to himself and had become lazy. He kept putting off the work required to get his business to the next level. Steve knew he liked being challenged by and learning from others, so he found an outside expert to help him. Talking with and being accountable to someone else was the “kick in the pants” (motivation) he needed.
Time – Having control over their time (i.e. lives) is important to some people. They do not like having their time being overly structured or regimented, especially by others.
Neal started his business to have more freedom and “not punch a time clock.” But, he ended up working longer hours and felt tied to the company. He realized that if he wanted time off, he would have to do something differently. He was finally motivated enough to make the management and operational changes he had known for years needed to be made.
Experiences – The people who are motivated by experiences need to do something for others or have something done for them as an incentive.
Allen was the 2nd generation to run the family business, and employee morale was at an all-time low. His father had prided himself on running a shop where workers were “treated like family and liked coming to work.” Even though sales were flat, productivity was down, and quality was slipping it was his employee’s anger that finally motivated Allen to address long-standing problems.
Need for Community – People who have a need for community are motivated by belonging to and being accountable to an entity (i.e. team, group, club, friends, co-workers, family).
Lynn liked selling. She built a successful company through networking, sales calls, meetings, and presentations. But, she had become office bound. She wanted to be out talking with and selling to potential and current customers. Her desire to be out with “her people” motivated Lynn to develop controls and structures, allowing her to return to selling by turning the daily operations over to a manager.
Money and Things – Some people are motivated by money and/or the things they can buy themselves or others.
Charles started his business to make “serious money”. He was finally making it and enjoyed spending it. But, he knew there was trouble in the business and had an outside expert in to look things over. Charles was shocked when he and the expert uncovered $285,000 in problem costs. He quickly became motivated to fixing the problems – no more of his money was going to be taken from his pocket.
Motivation is big business – books are read, TED talks watched and workshops attended every day. There is no one size fits all technique. Motivating yourself is a learned skill which takes work and practice. It does not come naturally and is accomplished through trial and error. But, having the ability to build and maintain a successful business through self-motivation is worth the effort.
At Cogent Analytics, we never stop looking for ways to improve your business and neither should you. So, check out some of our other posts for helpful business information: