Many entrepreneurs start their own businesses because they want to avoid (at all costs) the cheesy mission statements and strict goals and objectives of the more structured corporate world. If your tolerance for cheesiness and patience with pushy project managers is low, these may be some of the main reasons you leapt right off the corporate ladder and into your own business.

However, large corporations communicate these standards for a reason. They provide a purpose and structure that helps individual team members connect to the broader business and its goals. Without these shared values, keeping the average employee on task and on the right track is a lot tougher.

But you’re not the average employee. So despite ditching the corporate agenda, you stay 100% motivated and moving forward. Right? …right? Probably not. That’s because it’s human nature to slow down a bit when you’re left to your own devices. It’s not likely you’ve completely stalled, but it’s common to find yourself lacking the motivation you once did under the corporate umbrella.

According to a study by Statistic Brain, 50% of all U.S. companies fail after 5 years, with 70% failing after 10 years.

Don’t become another statistic. Here’s how to get your motivation back.

1. Think about where you want to be in 10 years, and write it down.

“Fishing at my lake house” is an OK answer here, but let’s try to get a little more focused. Think only in terms of your local business, and envision how you’d like to see it grow or prosper in the next decade.

Some solid examples:
  • Grow the team by 5 times, from 3 to 15 employees.
  • Expand the geographic area we service from our current city to state-wide.
  • Grow my client list such that the business is actively operating for 60 hours each week.
  • Open a second retail location.
  • Hire a manager of operations, so I can take a step back and get more time for my family.

Any of these ring a bell? Once you choose a 10-year mission, write it down. And here’s the hard part — tell someone about it (even if it’s just your immediate family). Being mindful of where you want your business to be in 10 years, and making that desire known, will make you feel more accountable to moving toward that goal.

2. Make small, surmountable milestones.

If you’re tasked with climbing a mountain, a glance up at the very top will make it seem just about impossible. That’s why the most experienced climbers break each climb into more realistic milestones, taking breaks as they reach them along their journey.

Apply the same principle to anything you’re working toward with your business. If you’re trying to save money for store renovations, for example, budget out how much money you need for each stage of the renovations, and make each stage a new savings goal.

3. Treat yo’self.

Wait! Don’t make a dash for the donuts and derail your new health kick. When we say, “Treat yo’self,” we mean reward your hard work and successes just like a good manager would reward great performance in the corporate world.

When you achieve a milestone you set in tip #2, decide how you’ll celebrate before moving onto the next. It could be as simple as buying a new pair of shoes or as intricate as allowing yourself to ditch a shift and let one of your employees take over for you. Whatever you decide, when you feel rewarded, you’ll work harder toward the next goal.

4. Invest in your network.

Friends, business partners and the local community can be some of your biggest influencers and motivators.

Here’s how:
  • Are you a competitor? Other local businesses can be a source of friendly competition. Watch what they’re doing, and think about how you could do it better. Then, go for it! When you’re feeling competitive, you’ll work harder to help your business shine.
  • Make each other stronger. Businesses in adjacent markets can be resources for you and motivate you to get creative. We tackled this one in another blog about the importance of knowing your neighbors. Own a gym? Partner with a local weight loss center on monthly incentives. Own a salon? Partner with a local spa to come up with great offers on beauty and self-care packages.
  • Local chambers and government groups hold high standards for local businesses they partner with. Keeping your business in good standing should be incentive enough to keep you on the ball.