The Seven Keys to Motivation

Motivation. It’s a complicated subject that is studied by

many and understood by few. Virtually every aspect of

human life — from the mundane to the life-changing — is

guided, swayed and altered by motivating factors.

For instance, what to have for dinner may be motivated by a

desire to lose or gain weight. Whether or not to attend a

business seminar may be motivated by the speakers,

location and cost. When and where to buy new clothing may

be motivated by a long list of personal preferences as well

as the changing seasons and weather conditions.

Even reading this article is a motivated behavior. Do you

like the style of writing? Are you curious about the subject

matter? Do you have a desire to learn new information? Do

you have enough time to finish reading? If the answers are

no, you probably won’t continue reading!

But since you have continued, you are obviously motivated.

You want to learn more about how to get and stay

motivated, and how this motivation can help you become a

better business owner.


Motivation is one of the most powerful driving forces in the

workplace. It can mean the difference between tremendous

success and failure.

Motivation stems from two sources. The first part of

motivation is external or extrinsic (outside the person)

sources. Other motivating factors come from internal

forces, which are mainly your thoughts, patterns and

collective experiences.

However, humans are unique, so what motivates Jack will

not necessarily motivate Jill. You — and only you — will be

able to determine what works.

Take the time to examine what internal and external factors

are motivating you as a business owner. What can you do

to enhance and refine your motivation to make yourself

more productive and more fulfilled?

Here are seven keys to motivation that may prove helpful.


Inspiration is critical to getting and staying motivated. If you

are not interested in your business, your motivation level will

never be high and you won’t be able to sustain interest for

very long.

On the flip side, if you are energized and excited about the

work you are doing, you will have more persistence, energy

and intensity.

Take an honest look at your inspiration level. Are you

excited about going to work or is it an obligation? You would

be surprised at the number of people who choose a

business that looks good on paper, but in reality does not

interest them in the least. These individuals will grow


and uninterested pretty quickly because they have no

inspiration or passion to sustain them during the difficult

times they will encounter as a small business owner.

If you don’t really enjoy your work, then think how you can

re-focus your small business to better match your needs.

Or consider making a change entirely. That’s pretty drastic

advice, but inspiration is that important.


Short and long-term goal setting is vital for any business

owner. If you didn’t set goals, you would be adrift with

nothing to strive for and no charted course to follow.

How could you possibly be motivated if you were unsure

about the direction of your company?

Take the time to put your goals in writing. A business plan

may sound daunting, but it is really nothing more than

goals, strategies, implementation and a budget. Write your

own business plan and update it at least annually. Include

“mini-goals” that can be accomplished in a matter of hours,

days or weeks as well as the more ambitious “grand-goals”

that may take years to complete. Refer to this plan

throughout the year.

But can a business plan really help motivate you? Yes!

Written goals will make you feel more professional and

certainly more connected to your business. It will also free

you from having to reinvent your business goals every single



Another key factor in getting and staying motivated is

networking with other small business owners. One person

can’t move huge mountains. However, when a number of

people begin working together the mountains are suddenly

only small hills — simply challenges waiting to be


In fact, the isolation of working alone is of one the most

difficult parts of being an entrepreneur. Mutual support is

motivating. So, make it easier on yourself by connecting

with others either in your community or online. Even when

businesses are not related, you will often find common

ground and ways to work together.

Many successful entrepreneurs report that finding the right

networking group was a turning point in the growth of the

business. Working together, a networking group can help

its members generate more qualified sales leads and solve

problems faster and more efficiently. Sharing ideas,

expertise and experience is also an invaluable aspect of

networking groups. And, don’t forget about sharing costs,

possibly by buying in bulk or with joint marketing projects.

Your own personal team of business owners will help

re-energize you when the burdens of running your own

business seem too much. With your networking team to

rely on, you can accomplish more in less time and probably

have more fun in the process. Certainly, you will feel less



Small business owners will always have to work hard, but

all work and no play is a huge mistake. Your motivation will

soon begin to fall if you never take any time away from the

demands of running the business.

So, plan frequent rewards for yourself. No, it doesn’t need

to be a trip to Hawaii (although this is a great idea). Your

reward can be as simple as a lunch out with an old friend, a

matinee with your significant other, an afternoon of

shopping or a relaxing massage.

If your budget and time will allow, take a few days off for a

short trip or simply schedule a vacation from work for a few

days. Make it a real vacation — even if you don’t leave town —

so no checking email, voice mail or the fax machine. You

need to get away, unwind and renew yourself. This “down”

time to regenerate will help improve your attitude and

perspective. It sounds corny, but you will come back to your

business with a new sense of motivation.


While it isn’t always immediately apparent, there is a

powerful connection between the mind and the body. It is

vital for every small business owner to take breaks and

exercise — everyday. If your body isn’t healthy, your

motivation will certainly suffer.

These exercise breaks don’t have to be huge blocks of time,

and you needn’t spend money joining a gym or hiring a

personal trainer. Start by walking briskly for 30 minutes

before, during or after work. After you have incorporated a

walk each day, then try doubling the time or doing two walks

each day.

Whatever works for you is best, but the important thing is to

start. You will begin to feel better.

After the walking is part of your routine, add some basic light

weights. Buy a tape or go online to find out how to properly

use the weights so you won’t injure yourself.

You can keep the weights under your desk, and use them

for just a few minutes at a time. Buy a timer the next time

you are at the grocery store. Set the timer for for three

minutes to start and then add a minute or two until you’re up

to 10 or 15 minutes each day.

Some small business owners have a television at work and

they schedule a CNN break along with their weights. This

way, they are catching up with world and local news while

simultaneously getting some moderate exercise.


Organization is critical to motivation. How can you feel good

about your work, when you can’t find important papers or

you are constantly late returning messages? Your

business will falter and your motivation will suffer.

Some people just can’t get organized. If you are one of

them, then consider bringing in someone — a business

friend, family member or professional — to help you get the

clutter and mess cleaned up. You will be amazed at how

this one important step will help you get back on the

organizational track. Don’t stop there. Now really get

organized by creating business systems that will help you

streamline your operations.

The real challenge will be keeping yourself on track by

maintaining these systems. For many, it is a daily

challenge, but if you use your organizational systems you’ll

be free to think about other important issues.


As small business owners, it seems we are bombarded

with motivational ideas and materials– tapes, books, CD’s,

seminars, workbooks, videos and more. Why are there so

many different motivational products, authors and

speakers? Because people are buying these materials.

Used effectively, they are effective and therefore they sell!

However, there are so many different motivational gurus that

it is often difficult to see through the clutter to find someone

that makes sense for you — someone who can get you “fired

up” about working and improving your business.

Try talking to your mentor or networking group members to

see who they might recommend. Start being aware of the

motivational industry and how it might help you become

more enthused and positive about your business. Do some

light research of your own to find some authors and

speakers that interest you.

Before you invest in motivational materials, you can probably

find some inexpensive ways to obtain the materials. Check

out your local library, tune into your local PBS station, buy

materials with a networking friend, visit used bookstores or

buy used materials online. Don’t make a huge investment,

because you will probably want to sample many different


But do these materials really work? Yes, but only if you

make the effort. Just like exercise, you have to work the

muscles — in this case your mind muscles.

It is up to you to take that information and apply it to your own

life and business. Really use the motivational ideas over a

period of time and you will begin to see results.


Motivation is what moves us forward in our daily and

business lives. Take the time to examine your motivating

factors and use some of these keys to improve your focus

and renew your enthusiasm. If you keep on track, the

motivation momentum can’t help but carry you forward.

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