How to master self-motivation as a business owner

Picture of by Ros Jones

by Ros Jones

Business coach and author

There are many reasons we decide to set up or buy our own business. Whatever the reason, we usually go into business with great excitement. But the reality is that business can be tough sometimes with many lows as well as highs. A business has to keep growing and innovating to survive. This can take a lot of energy. How do we maintain self-motivation to keep us moving forward?

Self-motivation is our internal drive. It’s what leads us to take action towards a goal. It’s what keeps us moving forward even when we don’t want to.

Self-motivation is needed not just to help push through tough times but also when things are going well. When business is thriving it can be easy to decide to take things easy and coast for a bit.

Taking your eye off the ball can be very risky in business. Suddenly you could lose some key customers leading to an abrupt nose-dive in sales. Or perhaps a new and attractive competitor sets up nearby and your prospective customers decide to buy from them while you’ve been taking it easy.

How can we maintain our self-motivation to keep moving forward?

Here are 7 easy ways to master self-motivation


  1. Set exciting goals for your business.

To keep us moving forward we need to have at least one big juicy goal to aim for. This will be something that excites us, makes us leap out of bed in the morning and keeps our energy high. It’s something that, once achieved, will help us realise a goal or dream in our personal life.

Goals have to be SMART. If they’re not SMART you won’t know when you’ve achieved them. SMART stands for:

Specific – what exactly is the goal? Be specific. If it’s a financial goal for your business, name the figure.

Measurable – you need to be able to measure it to know that you’ve achieve it.

Achievable – if it’s not achievable, you’ll just get disheartened and set yourself up to fail.

Realistic – again, ensure goals are realistic.

Time-based – there needs to be a timeframe to aim for that will enhance your self-motivation.

  1. Break your long-term goals into small goals.

Longer term goals can seem so far away that there is a risk we won’t get on and take the action required. Instead, we could put it off in the belief that there’s always time to catch up. Breaking down longer term goals into smaller goals with a tighter deadline can help with self-motivation and keep you moving forward.

  1. Develop habits.

Once you’ve worked out your shorter term goals, you need to plan what actions you need to take to make them happen.

Taking consistent action requires discipline and the easiest way to become disciplined is to develop habits.

Schedule the action into your diary at the same time every day and be sure to do it. Once you repeat this action every day for at least 21 days it will become a habitual behaviour that you don’t even need to think about.

  1. Learn as you go.

We all make mistakes and that’s a good thing. We learn by making mistakes.

When things go wrong in business you can remain self-motivated by acknowledging that a mistake has happened and ask yourself what you can learn from it. How can you do it differently next time? Or what can you do differently to make sure it doesn’t again.

When we learn from mistakes, we grow and the realisation that we’ve grown will help with our self-motivation.

  1. Know yourself.

Self-awareness is key when it comes to self-motivation.

We need to know ourselves sufficiently well to know the type of goal that will keep us motivated. You might find that the goal isn’t in fact that motivating to you and you don’t really care whether you achieve it. If this is the case, go back to Step 1 to redefine what really excites you and choose a different goal.

Some people are more motivated by avoiding pain rather than the achievement of a goal. Are you someone who wants to move away from pain or someone who wants to move nearer to pleasure? That awareness could also help you define your goals.

It could be the consequences of not achieving your goals that serve as your self-motivation.

If you know that you are someone who procrastinates, who will find all sorts of distractions and reasons to hold you back from moving forward, you’ll need to acknowledge this and get out of your own way. Getting out of your own way is covered in my blog on 5 Tips For Women Owned Businesses To Thrive .

Be sure to be kind to yourself along the way though. It can be easy to berate ourselves for not achieving goals but that is not helpful at all. Self-compassion is key though may take some practice!

  1. Track your progress.

It’s important to track your progress on achieving your goal to keep your self-motivation high.

Just like people who are collecting money for a charitable cause often keep a graphic showing the money they’ve raised, you can do something similar to track the progress of your goal. Having it visible will keep you motivated.

Be sure to celebrate various milestones along the way. By doing that, you’re training your subconscious mind to want to do more so that it can celebrate again: a great self-motivation tool.

  1. Have a support system.

It can be very easy to get discouraged, to feel frustrated and think about giving up. Having an accountability buddy of some sort – whether an interested friend, colleague or coach – should help keep you motivated.

Similarly, being part of a group of like-minded people who have your back and want you to succeed can be a very important support team for your self-motivation.

If you have any comments on the above or would like to discuss, please feel free to get in touch.

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