Let’s face it, small business is hard work. We all start on the journey, the rose coloured glasses are on, and we are going to conquer the world! Then reality hits, the bills pile up, customers are hard to come by (and even harder to convert), and you are needing to learn skill sets that you didn’t even know existed net alone knew that were required.
The great thing is you’re not alone. But then again, the bad thing is you’re not alone! I’m a start-up, just like many of you and there’s thousands upon thousands out there. There is so many startups but in real terms, so little support. I often laugh at some of the ‘Grants to help Small Business’ – the fine print goes on to say minimum 3 years in business, minimum turnover $500k. Laughable for the many businesses who really need it are not eligible!
So, how can we stay motivated and strong? You not only need to stay motivated for yourself but also for your team.
What is the Challenge?
It’s lonely at the top.
Often people around you don’t like your decisions but hell, you have no one to bounce the idea off of and you know that often it’s best to simply make a decision and roll with the 80/20 rule across the business. You can only hope that you’re right 80% of the time!
Your staff though, they remember the 20%, often because it affects them. Often though they won’t remember the 80% and even if they do they may not thank you for it.
Given this, what is going to make us get out of bed, at the top of our game and drive yourself, your staff and your business forward, day in, day out?
How do I Motivate my People?
You may be thinking they are motivated by money. Often they are not. Some are as motivated by the challenge of building your business as much as you are.
Others simply want a kind word…. Thank you!
How many employers did you have prior to commencing your own business who never said these two powerful words? Did you leave because of a bad culture and ‘not feeling the love’? Show empathy; remember where you came from and what you would like to have happened differently with yourself as an employee. This will be an important motivator for yourself and build a great culture in your business.
How do I motivate myself?
This is the difficult one. Even when you’ve been awake half the night, sick kids and feeling abysmal, you’re staff are expecting you to ‘show up’. I know myself that I’ve at times had to put that mask on and pretend that nothing’s wrong but in reality you are falling apart on the inside. This is especially so if it’s a work matter but I’ve been guilty of putting the mask on for everything. It’s ok to not feel 100% – if you show the staff at times that you are occasionally human they may even let you off the hook for a day or two and shoulder some of the pressure for you.
On the flip side, you can’t drag yourself around the office for weeks on end being the proverbial sad sack. You need to have an out, whether that be exercise (boxing is good!), a mentor or simply some lone time. Give yourself the opportunity to work through the problem, dust yourself off and get your mojo back on.
How do we work together to motivate each other?
This doesn’t mean you need to share everything. Personally, I believe you need to share the direction of the business and have your team buy into this. Whilst you may know intrinsically where you want the business to go, your staff may be on a different planet. Have a strategy planning day, get out of the office and go somewhere nice. Beforehand, give your team some small tasks to consider and plant some seeds with your main players as to what you’re dreaming about. Ultimately, if on the day, they can arrive at the same dream you have but have it look like their idea, you’ll be onto a winner. Your staff will have a vested interest in the dream, they will take some ownership with driving it forward. Sometimes, they will come with a different perspective that may mean your dream has to change….and that’s ok!
The key to motivating one another is to be on, or close to the same page. If you’re all coming from the same place and heading in the same direction, you are a force to be reckoned with. It will mean your team can hold the fort or go into bat for you when the chips are down as they understand the shared dream. Conversely, you can also support them in a more meaningful way. It’s another win/win for your workplace.
The team that Dreams Together, Stays Together!
Build a strong culture and your business will go far….. Good Luck
The Scary Thing about the Writer
Jane’s an accountant… and yes, like many accountants, everything is black and white and has little empathy. But, she has learnt many life lessons about business and the above is a small reflection of these.
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