Most entrepreneurs want to leave a legacy behind them, to have the ability to look back and feel they have lived life completely in terms of their business decisions.
When work is life and that’s what you’re passionate about, chances are that as a driven individual you are being harder on yourself than you should be. Successes come to be expected and struggles are considered failure. But it’s important to also enjoy the ride. Not everyone can tell their kids the story of quitting their corporate 9-5 job to follow their dream. Your time as an entrepreneur—however long or short lived that may be—should be something you can look back on with a smile, remembering key moments when in need of motivation and inspiration moving forward.
Business and technology author Minda Zetlin describes the tendency of entrepreneurs to rarely be satisfied with the current state of their business as a common mindset.
“If you're an entrepreneur, or have other career ambitions, chances are you're the same, always striving toward something better, never satisfied with where you are,” Zetlin maintains. “Striving is good, but never being satisfied is bad. Is it possible to do both – aim for higher achievement while still taking time to enjoy the achievements you've attained?”
Her opinion is that it is possible to know what success looks like and recognize it when you achieve it. These seven tips will help make you more aware and appreciative of how far you’ve come.
1. SET BOTH MINI AND MEGA GOALS
Approach your entrepreneurial awareness like a business plan. That is, you focus on the long-term goal your company strives toward on a daily basis. But it’s just as important to package the journey into smaller steps you’ll take along the way. Set goals that you can achieve in the short term. For example, instead of making a giant sales target the focus of your efforts, break this goal into smaller pieces like entering new markets or finalizing new growth partnerships. Each is important and serve to reach the big-picture objective.
2. MAKE A POINT OF CELEBRATING
Once you’ve mapped out those benchmarks, don’t shy away from acknowledging that achievement. A reward for you and those who helped the enterprise reach that goal can be a good opportunity to boost morale with time off, a party, or any kind of triumphant activity. The more enjoyable the reward for accomplishing each smaller step toward realizing the bigger aspiration, the more motivated everyone will be to reach the next target.
3. SHARE YOUR WINS WITH OTHERS
On top of celebrating achievements within your company, it’s an ideal opportunity to let the world know, too. Social media channels are the obvious mediums to get the news out, but traditional methods such as press releases, alumni magazine letter contributions, or trade association newsletters work as well. Don’t miss the chance to spread the word about the stellar work your company has been doing. Not only will it raise your profile, but when others give you recognition for your accomplishments, it somehow pushes you consider them more seriously.
4. TAKE A MOMENT TO REFLECT
Especially during the planning stages of setting up your business, you may have copious notes and documents outlining brainstorming strategy. As your business grows, keep some of these original files. Reviewing your original intentions may reveal you have already met initial benchmarks. Or, maybe they have changed along the way as you have learned and grown through experience. Looking back on how far you have come can help to regain that original inspiration and motivation on why you began this entrepreneurial journey in the first place.
5. BE GRATEFUL FOR WHERE YOU ARE
Canada is second only to the U.S. in levels of entrepreneurial activity, beating most G7 countries and much of the developed world. Many entrepreneurs claim that luck has nothing to do with their success (and that hard work is the only reason). But it is lucky that, as a keen businessperson, you can have an idea and the savviness to execute that venture to the point of it being lucrative. Being busy can be overwhelming sometimes, but being swamped with incoming clients and workload is a positive. Focus on the reasons you have to be thankful for every day.
6. DON'T FALL FOR THE MIRAGE
When you’re used to hard work, it might seem impossible to feel satisfied and fulfilled. There is always another roadblock around the corner that you will want to tackle. Don’t let unattainable dreams make you feel unaccomplished. Everyone will have unfinished plans – even the pros.
7. BEYOND THE BRIEFCASE
The best advice to quash misgivings about how far you’ve come and how much more you have yet to go is to take a look at the bigger picture from an alternative perspective. Picture yourself at retirement, relaxing after many years of hard work. Was that work something you can be proud of? Was it something that made a difference in people’s lives that you’d be happy to tell your grandchildren about? Chances are, it is, even in your enterprise’s infancy and during more harrowing times.
Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not promised, and all we are left with is this day. Sure, it's often said you only live once. If you enjoy the work required to follow your passion, take your struggles as a memory to look back on with a smile. Then, remember that moment when you need motivation and inspiration moving forward.