Every business needs a motivating factor. It’s the thing that pushes you to step out and start your business in the first place and it’s the thing that keeps you going when things get hard once you’ve launched. I firmly believe that the businesses that find success, especially now in an age when just about anyone can start a business online, are those that stay in touch with their motivating factor.
Since I can only write what I know, I’ll share my own story here.
In 2007 I was working for an attorney preparing real estate title closings, otherwise known as a title processor or real estate paralegal. Although the job was stressful, probably the most stressful one I’ve ever had, I was very good at what I did. People constantly told me I was lucky because I would never have to worry about losing my job. After all, real estate closings were always going to be needed. Except in 2007 it became very apparent that people were wrong. The real estate bubble had burst, houses weren’t selling and title companies were going out of business daily. And then it was me becoming another person filling out unemployment forms.
At first I wasn’t really worried. With my experience I had no doubt I’d find a job within weeks. That was until two weeks passed and it became obvious that no one was hiring. No one. Not even the local grocery stores. Then the panic set in. And the self pity. Some people get stuck in that place, but for me it wasn’t an option. I like to tell people how, after a weekend in my pajamas feeling miserable, I sat in my chair and realized that if I didn’t do something I’d be living in my Ford Focus. I knew I had knowledge and skills that someone out there would be appreciative to have helping their business.
At that moment my motivating factor was revealed. I never again wanted my ability to keep a roof over my head in the hands of someone else. I made the decision to take my valuable knowledge and skills and make them work for me, not someone else. And that was my primary thought as I went through the steps to open for business and seeking my first clients. It is still the thought that pushes me out of my comfort zone to grow my business and to get me past the rough spots. And yes, there are still rough spots. Sometimes so rough that for a split second my mind goes back to sitting in that chair in my pajamas.
Because my motivating factor puts my success or failure firmly in my own hands, I can’t allow myself to let the fear win, no matter what the situation. And this, I firmly believe, is what has made a difference in my business and my life.
After years of listening to new business owners telling me they are ready to throw in the towel because they are 7 months in and haven’t gotten a solid client yet I wonder what their motivating factor is. Is it simply that they would like to work from home? Because a wishy washy motivating factor like that is never going to push you toward success. Words like “I would like to” means that it’s not really a priority. Priority is “I have to”. I have to means there isn’t a choice. Which means no matter how hard it might be to get that first client, or how scary the situation gets, quitting isn’t an option.
Only a strong motivating factor will push you to step outside your comfort zone to do whatever it takes to reach your goals. It may be getting your first client. It could be dropping services that aren’t working for your business. It could be basing your rates on your value. It could even be knowing when it’s time for you to get help in order to branch out and grow your business.
What about you? Are you at a standstill in your business? If so, perhaps you need to examine what your motivation is, or if you even have one. If it’s not working, sit down and reassess the reasons you want to be a business owner. Chances are you’ll find a new motivating factor that will push you out of your comfort zone and into success.