Working for yourself sounds great in the beginning but many solopreneurs soon discover that giving up the day job isn’t always as glamorous as it seems. Loneliness and a lack of motivation eventually in creep and you might even find yourself missing your 9-5 more than you thought possible.
However, you went into business by yourself for a reason and lost motivation can always be found again. It’s important to mentally prepare yourself for these bumps in the road and understand how to motivate yourself to keep moving, even when the going gets tough.
Here are some top tips on staying motivated as a solopreneur.
Freedom is often listed as one of the top reasons solopreneurs leave the corporate world and go into business by themselves. Entrepreneurship offers you the chance to fit work around your lifestyle, not the other way around. Therefore, the key to staying motivated is actually putting this into practice. Particularly during the startup phase of your business, you may feel as though you need to dedicate every waking hour to your budding enterprise, but is that really why you started out on your own?
Aligning your business with your lifestyle will boost your overall satisfaction and give you the motivation you need to keep on working, so make your schedule work for you. For example, if you love hitting happy hours with your friends, why not adjust your working schedule so that your days start and finish early and there’s time for socialising afterwards?
Or if you’re a keen fitness fan, you could take advantage of your flexible hours and hit the gym midday when it’s most likely to be quiet. These are just examples, but take time to think about ways to balance your business with your other interests.
Being able to work from the comfort of your own home is indeed fantastic, but not seeing another soul all day can also get pretty lonely. Plus, you run the risk of going stir crazy. On the other hand, if you’ve got noisy family members who are also at home all day it can be difficult to concentrate.
Find out if there’s a coworking space near you where you’ll be able to meet like-minded individuals and work in a relaxed, but focused, environment. Coworking spaces also run lots of useful events like workshops and seminars which can help you to learn new skills and develop your ideas.
One of the biggest advantages of co-working spaces is the chance to meet and learn from your fellow solopreneurs. They can empathise with you in a way that most of your friends and family probably can’t, and boost you up when you need it. Plus, they’ll be able to offer more valuable insights and advice to help you work through your problems.
Of course, co-working isn’t the only way to meet other entrepreneurs. Mastermind groups are an increasingly popular business growth tool. A mastermind is a peer-to-peer mentoring group where you can find inspiration, bounce ideas around and enjoy the support and advice of fellow entrepreneurs. Participating in this kind of group also helps to keep you accountable, which is essential when your motivation is lagging.
Balancing your workload is easier said than done, but it’s 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 can’t make their employees work for any longer than 48 hours per week, but there are no such constraints on the self-employed. However, it’s 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, you’ll burn out but if you don’t put enough hours in, you won’t make any progress – and you’ll probably get bored. Keep your long term goals in mind and remember that your journey as a solopreneur is a marathon, not a sprint.
Instant gratification is undoubtedly more motivating than slogging towards a long-term goal. The problem is that entrepreneurship is all about the big picture and it may be a while before you reap the rewards of all the hard work you’re putting in.
The easiest way around this is to set yourself small goals and attach rewards to each one. For example, if you struggle to work an eight-hour day, motivate yourself with the promise of your favourite dinner that evening. You can choose more extravagant bonuses for bigger milestones, such as a new pair of shoes for finally finishing your website, or a fun day out for landing a new client.
Ultimately, the key to staying motivated as a solopreneur is to enjoy the journey and remember to have some fun along the way. Self-discipline is crucial, but you can’t sustain a punishing schedule for long. It may sound cliche, but finding a work-life balance is truly the secret sauce for success.