‘Soda Folk’ was founded in 2013 by entrepreneur Ken Graham when he moved from the US to the UK and realised he couldn’t buy his favourite fizzy drinks here. He started developing a Root Beer and Cream Soda in his friend’s craft beer brewery and hasn’t looked back.
It would be easy to take Ken’s recent success for granted. We have talked on previous pods about the skyscraper metaphor, where we only focus on the end result and gloss over the years of hard work of laying the foundations, and building a business – or skyscraper- up to the structure people see in the end. While Ken- and many others- are now enjoying the fruits of his labour – cherry, grape and blueberry muffin flavours of Soda Folk are available- there are so many more complex elements, working behind the scenes that an entrepreneur needs to get an idea off the ground.
At some point in any entrepreneur’s journey, self-motivation becomes an issue. The investment we make personally in our business idea is massive. The emotions required to go from investor to investor, or customer to customer, crystallizing our idea, positioning our offer again and again is incredibly important. Consciously, we worry whether the idea come to anything, will it be successful? Will the side-hustle get too big for our plans? As the person at the centre of any new business venture, we are the ones that have to keep going and going. You had a huge amount of self-motivation at the start; the question is how do you maintain that level every day?
It’s not a binary thing; motivation ebbs and flows. Most entrepreneurs are inherently self-motivated, but it can be a lonely place running your own business and there are days when it’s hard; you’re tired, you’ve had knock backs, something’s gone wrong or you’re not moving as quick as you want. That’s when anyone’s self-motivation can dip and that’s when some helpful steps can help you deal with that downturn in self-motivation and get it back up to the levels you need to succeed. Alan and I discussed this topic and here are our hints!
You’ve lost that loving feeling
The first step is to understand which aspect of your business you have fallen out of love with. At the start we all have a positive connection, a strong emotion, or at least enthusiasm for our new venture, but sometimes we just lose that loving feeling. So, get clarity on what’s missing and try to re-introduce it. Get back in love with your business.
Find your purpose
Second is to re-connect to your purpose; why you started in the first place? What was your big idea and where are you with achieving that? Mission statements are clear statement of intent; the best ones bring your purpose to life. If you don’t have a mission statement, create one, they can be extremely motivating.
Knowing me, knowing you
Third, know and understanding yourself. Identify whatever motivated you at the start and ask yourself, ‘is that still motivating you now’? If you’re a big ideas person, then reconnect with that part of the business. If you are a nitty gritty-style finisher and you need someone else to bounce the big, bold ideas off find that person and have those conversations. You need to understand what you need to get going again.
Clarity of role
As you transition from start-up entrepreneur to CEO your role in the business will change. Generally you start a business because you’re really good at something and you enjoy doing it. You spend your life learning what may be a very technical skill and by delivering it each day, over time you received greater rewards. That is very motivating. But as your business grows, you take on different roles. Maybe you are thinking about the next 90 day plan, maybe you are doing less delivery and more strategic work, or just having more conversations to inspire and lead others, the intangible stuff. You are doing less of what you know and love and find yourself in unfamiliar territory. It means you have a harder time prioritising, daily tasks so you feel you achieve less while doing things way out of your comfort zone. To help, ask yourself ‘over the next six months, what would be the very best use of my time?’ It will help bring you clarity by demonstrating that if showed up brilliantly doing certain things, they would have the biggest impact on your business and that can be very motivating.
Eat your frog for breakfast
Most entrepreneurial folk are action orientated so you can get a massive snowball effect from completing a small, relatively easy task. Even if it is a rubbish job, ‘eat the frog’ for breakfast, and then you can go on and do more enjoyable things and build on that momentum. The first job the American military, require of active service men and women is to make their beds each morning. It is a simple concept that means before they even leave the dormitory they’ve had an easy win. It demonstrates this positive connection to action.
Give yourself time and permission to think
This takes a shift in mindset. When you’re working for someone else, when have you ever had time to just sit and think? Probably never! People are conditioned that when they’re at work, they need to be working and doing something leads to a result and a result keeps them going. But, as an entrepreneur, actually sitting there and just thinking is your job now. And that’s perfectly fine. Ignore your phone and your emails and give yourself permission just to sit and think.
Being a useful human being
It’s a very rough rule of thumb, but whenever a human being feels like they are being useful to someone else, they will feel motivated. So whenever I’m having a day where I’m not feeling a hundred percent, I pick up the phone and ring a client at random I find that speaking to another business owner, demonstrates that their problems are similar to my problems. Getting my teeth into helping them gives me that buzz back and keeps me motivated.
In his book, the Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod describes six great habits that business owner can adopt to transform their lives- all before 0800am. Needless to say it means a pretty early start, but Alan has tried it recently, joining the 5am club and says the difference has been phenomenal. Starting early means you can get more time to focus and achieve quick wins before breakfast.
As an entrepreneur, if you are struggling with self-motivation, we tried to outline a few simple steps on the Mind Your Business Podcast that can help to get your mojo back.
- Identify what it is about your business that you have fallen out of love with
- Reconnect with your purpose
- Create your mission statement
- Understand what motivates you
- Define your new role within the business
- Get clarity on what success in your new role looks like
- Give yourself space and permission to just think
- Make your bed, or eat your frog, first thing in the morning
- Reach out and have a conversation with someone else
- Be awesome
Remember, the longer you stay demotivated, the less productive you are and the further away from where you want to be you become. There are another 8 billion people on the planet and at any one time at least 40% could be having a worse day than you. So, choose to change, take a moment, get moving, get into action, do things, create some space to think, go for a walk and motivate yourself.
Or as Barney, from ‘How I met your mother’ would say, ‘don’t be de-motivated, be awesome instead.’