When many entrepreneurs start new endeavors, staying motivated is hardly a concern: Most are excited about the possibilities that the future holds and are focused on the positive aspects of their work. Yet when businesses get slow — or stagnate altogether — motivation and professional commitment can wane.
To help keep you focused, energized and enthusiastic during the inevitable (but hopefully infrequent) slow times, here are six suggestions to maximize your productivity and help get your professional life humming smoothly again.
Set realistic and measurable goals.
Many entrepreneurs initially set goals that are either hard to measure or are completely unrealistic. While you need to set goals, they need to be sensible and objectively measurable. Telling yourself that you are going to “supercharge” your sales this month is difficult to evaluate. In contrast, saying, “I will meet with one new potential distributor for my product each week” keeps you honest about your progress. If you set smaller, achievable goals, then every time you reach one, it will motivate you to reach more difficult tasks. Small incremental steps lead to long-term success.
Find or rediscover your passion.
When things don’t go according to plan, it’s easy to get frustrated and lose your entrepreneurial spirit. If this should happen, take a little time to think about why you started your business in the first place. Remember what made you excited to start your own business and use that as motivation to continue. If you have any trouble, then think about what you like to talk about, learn about, and what gets you excited. This exercise should help give you the clarity you need to find or rediscover your passion.
Learn from your mistakes.
Although it’s never easy to admit to making mistakes, being honest with yourself is critical to your professional growth and development. Are there any obvious errors that have you made which are causing the slowdown? Have you made them before, and what can you do to ensure they will not be repeated? Once you know what makes you’ve made, it’s easier to take responsibility and not make them again.
Surround yourself with the right group of people.
One of the most important decisions you make in your personal and professional lives is the company you choose to keep. If you hang around with positive and successful people, chances are they’ll rub off on you. If you hang around negative people, chances are you’ll become negative as well. Look at your circle of friends: If they drain your positive energy, then it’s time to look for a new social circle. The same goes for your professional relationships.
Change your mindset to positive thinking.
Although it might sound like a cliché, the Mayo Clinichas found that a positive attitude can lower rates of depression, help your body’s immune system and improve coping skills.
Work on projects that you can’t work on when you’re busy.
When we’re busy at work, very seldom do we get to work on projects that we’re passionate about because we’re so busy running the day-to-day operations of the business. But when things slow down, it’s the perfect opportunity to work on things that you wouldn’t be able to ordinarily. Take this time to pursue a passion project, tweak your website or brand, develop and implement new marketing strategies or even catch up on that administrative work that’s been piling up on your desk.
When our business is in a slow cycle, which is usually late summer, my team and I focus on surveying our existing clients and prospective customers on our email lists to uncover their needs, wants and pain points. Once we have a thorough understanding of what our market wants, we create relevant products and services to meet those needs. We also develop the following year’s product and service marketing plans.
Don’t let slow or stagnant business cycles get you down. It’s all part of running your own show. Take the appropriate steps to prepare for the slow times before they happen and you can increase your productivity to help you navigate those downturns and get you and your business back on track.