Many people struggle with motivating themselves when they transfer from traditional paid employment to self-employment. If you’re used to working in an office, with a team and a boss, others were relying on you for support and for you to play your part in the team’s activities, and you may have had specific objectives and responsibilities your boss expected you to deliver (and monitored your delivery of).
Once you’re on your own, you have no team depending on you, you have no appraisal with your boss, and self-motivation can be challenging. Here are my top six tips for motivating yourself in self-employment.
Remind yourself of the negative consequences
In the simplest terms, as a self-employed individual, if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. When you’re doing work for a client and will actually get paid either by the hour or on completion of a project, that’s easy to remember. But when it comes to the other business activities you’re now also responsible for, the correlation between working and getting paid can be less immediately obvious, representing more of a motivational challenge.
Marketing is frequently a long game. It’s rarely a case of do a bit of marketing and as a result immediately get a client; there’s no instant gratification. But almost all of your clients have and will come to you as a result of some kind of marketing activity – often as a result of a combination of several different marketing activities.
Sometimes marketing pays off months or even years down the line, as a contact you met years ago and who has been reading your mailings finds themselves in need of your services. So if you don’t do your marketing now, it will have an impact on your income, possibly immediately and almost certainly further down the line.
Get help with accountability
You have no boss expecting you to have completed certain tasks, so find someone you can ask to give you that accountability. If you agree with someone that you plan to do x, y and z in your business, and will do those things by a deadline, then you are making yourself accountable to them.
For many people, knowing they’ll have to tell that person that they haven’t done x y and z is a powerful motivational tool. We can provide that accountability to HR professionals working with us, but it could just as easily be a friend, partner, coach or other business associate.
Some people work effectively for a reward. If you have something boring to do, or something you find challenging, plan to reward yourself once it’s done. It could be with a cup of tea and a biscuit, a walk, putting your feet up for half an hour, or that new handbag you’ve had your eye on (choose a reward commensurate with the activity in question rather than buying yourself a designer handbag every time you update a boring spreadsheet…!)
Sometimes a task or a to-do list can seem so mountainous you don’t even know where to start (and therefore don’t!). But there are bound to be some smaller tasks you can do on your to-do list which may give you a sense of achieving something and making progress, and get you “on a roll”.
Break it down
If it’s a very large task you are putting off, break it down into lots of little steps. Write those all down, then you can overcome one piece at a time and will quickly make (and see) progress without feeling overwhelmed.
Get out of the house
Many people find being at home brings motivational challenges. Perhaps you get distracted by things you can do around the house and use those as excuses not to work? Perhaps you find it too easy not to work when there’s no one there to notice?
Consider removing yourself from the environment if either of those is you. You could find a hotel lounge to work in. You’ll have nothing else to do, and for the price of a cup of coffee or two, can generally make use of their Wi-Fi in a quiet environment. Having an audience also helps some people work effectively. There are many co-working environments/events available now also, where entrepreneurs and small business owners go to work and network with others, so explore those opportunities near you.
What works for one won’t work for all, so it’s a case of knowing yourself, knowing what works for you and making sure you take whatever steps you need to ensure your business doesn’t suffer from a lack of motivation.
We’re currently looking for someone to launch in September to make the most of the post-holiday back-to-school let’s-get-our-HR-sorted mood small business owners are frequently in at that time of year. So if you are toying with the idea of setting up as an HR consultant over the next couple of months, do get in touch!