Being motivated and inspiring motivation are the keys to success.

Motivation, according to Business is the “Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continuously interested and committed to a job, role or subject or to make an effort to achieve a goal. Motivation results from the interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors such as the:

  • intensity of desire or need
  • incentive or reward value of the goal
  • expectations of the individual and of his or her peers.”

Keeping yourself motivated and keeping staff motivated is difficult, especially for owner-managers constantly sidetracked by issues that pull them away from their course of action.

Know Yourself — Know Your Reasons to Be Motivated

One of the first steps to maintaining motivation is to determine the reason to pursue a project.

Determine whether your motivation is perhaps sparked by a deeply rooted need to emulate your parents, a desire to reach a million dollars in sales, or to meet the needs of others by providing a high-quality service or product.

Whatever your reasons, the following are some tips to maintain the drive to reach your goals.

  • Treat your life as a project and yourself as the project manager. Break the project into long-term, medium-term and short-term projects. Over the long-term, you may want to sell your business for $20 million at age 60, but in the next five years (medium term) you want to reach $10 million in sales. In the short term (this year) you need to improve your operating margin to X%. As usual, Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the world’s most successful investors, got it right: “I don’t look to jump over seven-foot bars — I look for one-foot bars that I can step over.”
  • Establish the steps needed to reach the goal. Break each step into identifiable stages. Within each stage outline and document the task needed to complete that specific stage of operation. At the end of each day, review the outline and determine the progress. Such an approach allows you to determine the progress of that stage and to “tweak” the task to move forward quickly. Successful completion of the task will provide you with the motivation to move onto your next goal.
  • Prepare yourself mentally for your day. When you awake, review what you plan to achieve that day. Outlining your goal motivates action and gets results.
  • Maintain a list of tasks to be done. Thus, when a major task hits a delay and you start to feel overwhelmed, you can look to your list and work on a simpler task that can be more easily completed. Completing each task, even a small one, will provide confidence that other tasks can be successfully completed. Even small successes can sustain motivation and prevent demoralization.
  • Pace yourself on all projects. Time frames that are too tight may lead to costly mistakes that will limit your ability to move forward. A measured pace ensures a better rate of success and the successes keep the flame of motivation lit.

You cannot achieve everything by yourself.

  • Remember: No matter how much you learn or how much you try, you cannot achieve everything by yourself. Understand both your mental and physical limitations and pick your projects and tasks accordingly. Struggling to reach unattainable goals demoralizes. Knowing your limitations frees you to engage others more knowledgeable and allows you to say “NO” to tasks above your competence level. Staying within your capabilities within your field of expertise allows you to concentrate on what you are good at, which in turn maintains your confidence level and allows you to keep motivated.
  • Be positive. Never say “I can’t”. Much of success is attributable to simple endurance. When you have self-doubts, talk to your spouse, a peer or an outside professional. Simply articulating your concerns often provides insight and renews confidence in your own ability.
  • Read how others overcame similar obstacles. Meet with others inside or outside your organization who inspire you to move forward. Positive reinforcement or constructive ideas for change are great motivators.
  • Motivation comes not only from within but from the enthusiasm and desires of others who share your dreams and goals. When you decide to take on a project, ensure your team is fully vested from the start. The mutually reinforcing drive, ideas, and solutions of a team will keep not only you motivated but will also maintain team motivation until the project is completed.
  • “Success” is a word every entrepreneur likes to hear, but “failure” is the word that often creeps into an owner-manager’s thoughts when projects go off the rails. Fear of failure and the accompanying financial loss is a strong motive to keep going. Failure motivates us to re-examine our process and make changes to move forward until we succeed.

Managing the Crests and Troughs

Motivation to succeed starts out as a tsunami when an idea is first born but tends to diminish to a ripple before it reaches the shore of success. Ensuring that enthusiasm is maintained throughout the life of a project or for your business means that as an entrepreneur, you must manage the crests and troughs of the wave to ensure that motivation keeps your staff moving forward toward a future that fulfills the needs of your employees, the needs of your business, and, of course, your own personal needs.

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Disclaimer: BUSINESS MATTERS deals with a number of complex issues in a concise manner; it is recommended that accounting, legal or other appropriate professional advice should be sought before acting upon any of the information contained therein.
Although every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this letter, no individual or organization involved in either the preparation or distribution of this letter accepts any contractual, tortious, or any other form of liability for its contents or for any consequences arising from its use.
BUSINESS MATTERS is prepared bimonthly by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada for the clients of its members.
Richard Fulcher, CPA, CA – Author; Patricia Adamson, M.A., M.I.St. – CPA Canada Editor.
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