How To Stay Motivated As A Startup Founder

30 October, 2017 / Articles
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What is your daily driver as a start-up founder and entrepreneur?

When you are clear about your goals, and you know precisely what steps you need to get there, motivation won’t be a problem – you’ll be up before your alarm clock every morning. (Case in point – I’m writing this at 5am on a Monday).

Most people have a fuzzy goal and maybe a general direction (if I do a lot of X, eventually I’ll get to Y), but they don’t really have a step by step plan worked out with objectives and milestones. So they often work really hard without any idea if what they are doing is actually moving them forward. With no metrics, they waste their efforts on “busy tasks” and they often burn out.

It’s a bit like running a race in a heavy fog. You’ve heard that there is a finish line somewhere to the west, but have no idea how far away it is, and you can’t tell how close you are, or how well you are doing. After days and days of exhausting work, you’ll start to question why you are doing this at all. You have no idea if you are on track or not, or whether you are one or a hundred miles away. You’ll work half-heartedly, or maybe not at all because the goal seems so far away and some days it seems impossible. Sound familiar?

Many entrepreneurs start out the same way. They either just jump in without a plan and get started, or they had an outline of a plan but never looked at it again. They make a lot of progress in the early stages, because the milestones are close together and they can see progress. But as soon as the milestones get farther apart and they lose sight of reference points, they start to burn out. You’re doing a lot of work, but it starts to seem pointless.

If you develop a much clearer goal (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound) and plan what you need to do every step of the way, then your energy will come from seeing progress towards that goal. It isn’t about the unknown distance between two points: It becomes “the faster I achieve each step or reach each milestone, the sooner I get to the finish line.” Your progress is clear, your efforts to the next goal are clear, and you know exactly how many more milestones you need to get to your goal.

This is precisely why planning and goal setting is so important in business. If you are having trouble seeing a clear path to your goal, try working the plan backwards: To achieve a certain size/scale/revenue what needs to be in place? How many customers? How will you reach those customers? What capabilities or resources will you need? What activities did I need to complete to get there? What was the previous milestone? Repeat the same questions. Then, work on the milestone before that. Plan backwards all the way to where you are today, and things will be much clearer, your energy and enthusiasm will return, and you’ll be less likely to get distracted by things that don’t move you closer to your objective.

In time, you’ll no longer dread Monday mornings – you’ll be up at 5am ahead of your alarm clock like I am today, ready to tackle the things you need to do to build your business.

The science man and innovator, Fernando Fischmann, founder of Crystal Lagoons, recommends this article.

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