Entrepreneurs suffer a lot of demotivation. I even saw that in 16-year-old entrepreneurs just starting out at a school I help with entrepreneurial development. It steals your focus. It diminishes your energy. It robs you of achieving something greater in life. Isn’t that why you started the business, to have something better?
It can feel like an insurmountable brick wall brick wall standing in your way of achievement. I have been there. It does not have to be that way. Demotivation is part and parcel of life, not unique in entrepreneurs. But I want to address the ONE main cause of demotivation that I think is slowly destroying the entrepreneurial spirit. If you can overcome this, then all the other little things that demotivate you will disappear or become more manageable and bearable.
Yesterday I was at the school I help with entrepreneurial development. An amazing school with amazing kids. I was talking about cash flows and helping them with their business models. There were a lot of gaps still to fill in their planning and work of the businesses which has to run in two months. Questions about the customer, their needs, what they should sell, pricing and the lot dominated the conversation. But I missed something in them, the children. I did not see the fire in them. That motivation of building something amazing.
I stopped the class and asked if they could give me an indication on a scale of 1 to 10 of their level of motivation for the project. 1 being not motivated and 10 being highly motivated. I had many 6’s and 7’s. But then the reality came through as the scores below 5 started coming in. These kids were building businesses, trying to serve customers and still get good marks at school for this project but yet their motivation was down.
What’s in it for me?
Luckily we were doing cash flows. And I started asking a simple question, what are YOU going to get out of this? The class was quiet. Nobody had an idea of what THEY wanted to get out of this. As per normal entrepreneurial thinking, it is ALL ABOUT THE CLIENT. The business owner, the founder, the seed of opportunity is NOT taken into consideration. Why? Well, business books don’t talk about the business owner.
I tried to fix this motivation challenge by getting them into their respective groups and asking them to come up with a figure, money, what each should get out of the business when this project is done. There were one or two groups with very high numbers (R2000 = $146USD). But for the most it was only a couple of hundred Rands (R100 = $8USD). As you can see, this is not a lot. Strangely enough, the groups that wanted to make the most amount of money out of this, were the kids who were the most motivated.
Now I know all the people with money issues, fears of success and all the other social programming issues around money are going to jump up and shout “Money isn’t everything”. I am not in the mood to deal with your fears now, so sit down. I am tired of people fearing money. It is saved value for goodness sakes. It facilitates exchange. Grow up.
Ok, back to the story. Those with the lowest numbers quickly realised they were playing a small game once we did their cash flow projections. They started thinking bigger. They made plans to grow the business and serve more customers. Those with massive targets realised the massive load of work waiting for them. They started getting creative on how to make this easier, reduce the risk and achieve what they set out.
You see, the class changed once I asked: “What’s in it for you?”. They got creative; they got focused, they started talking and making plans to build bigger businesses. And that is exactly the point I want to make.
Too many business owners are stuck in the realm of “What’s in it for the customer?” and not thinking at all about “What’s in it for me?”. It is a very very important little line. Because if you have NO idea what you are going to get when you build this business, then what is the use? I see that SO often. Business owners getting stuck in their businesses. Business owners sacrificing everything for someone else’s dream, the client’s dream. Rarely, if ever thinking of themselves.
You have to realise; entrepreneurship is a lie. Entrepreneurship is sold as this wonder vehicle you can use to uplift yourself, build a better life and have it all. But it rarely, IF EVER, delivers on that. Look at the life and working conditions of a business owner and you will see I have a good point. It is the biggest BS sale on earth. Entrepreneurship was never designed to deliver on YOUR promises. The promises you thought your business would deliver on when you started it, more time, more money, more control and even a better life.
You have to bring YOUR NEEDS into this just as you are bringing the needs of the customer into it. Otherwise, you will NEVER get what you thought you would. And that is HOW you destroy the biggest demotivator. It dwarfs all other demotivators. Makes the other ones seem small and easy ot overcome become you are driven.
When you see how this business benefits your family, your children futures, your ability to grow and even leave a legacy then my friend you become motivated like never before. I see it time and time again when I take entrepreneurs through my Life Design for Business Owners process.
Please, stop, leave the client for a bit, they will always be there. Your children, your family, your life is passing you by quickly, stop and see how this business should benefit you too. You deserve it. Isn’t it why you started the business in the first place?
More about Willem Gous
I saw my father work seven days a week in his business, sacrificing everything. And today he has little or nothing to show for it. This changed me deeply growing up. That is why I do this work. Business is good. Entrepreneurship holds the promise to grow economies and uplift communities through job creation. But we have to start thinking of the person who drives it, the entrepreneur. We need to grow them. They are people too. They have families. Their needs are just as important as the needs of the client. That is why I developed the Life Design for Business Owners process so that you can serve customers while being served by your business. Don’t sacrifice everything in the hope of getting something; you won’t. A process gives you certainty. A process gives you a step by step plan. That is what Life Design for Business Owners process does.