What motivates you? How to build your business on dreams

I mentioned recently that I’m in a crazy workout challenge. It’s fun but insane at the same time.

When I initially found this exercise program, I was going to just do it on my own but then a friend mentioned he was also looking for a new exercise program so we decided to have a little challenge: We’d workout according to the strict parameters of the program and if we missed a day, we’d have to pay the other guy some money. Just before starting, we were joined by a third guy.

It’s a circuit-training program in which you burn about 700 or 800 calories in 40 minutes. On paper, it looked like a lot of fun and certainly quite manageable. (After all, I’ve been doing some kind of workout program for a few years). But when I actually started, it made my previous workout programs look like a lazy Sunday afternoon nap. It was intense! I barely made it through the first day. And the second day. And the third day. In fact, I just finished the half-way point of our 6 week program and can still barely lift myself off the floor at the end of each session.

So, what motivates me to keep going? It’s not that I’m getting in shape. It’s not that I want to get healthy. It’s not that I want to lose weight or build muscle. Those were the reasons I thought I wanted to do the workout but, the truth is, I would have never got through the first day of the program. I would have quit if those were my reasons. The only thing that got me through was thinking about having to admit my failure to my two friends. I couldn’t let that happen so I pressed on through the first day and actually made it to the end.

Last week, I just finished the half-way point of our six week challenge. The ONLY real reason I’m still in it and haven’t missed a single day yet is because of this challenge. I want to beat the other two. We trash-talk each other on Facebook. And when one of us ramps up our workout a little bit (perhaps adding more weight or more reps or new routines) the other two match the new level simply because we can’t stand the thought of having one guy outdo the other.

It reminds me of my days in sales. My boss was always trying to figure out how to motivate me and my fellow salespeople. He was “old school” and would offer us cash if we hit certain targets. Cash was okay but it wasn’t as motivating as other things. He never realized this but time off would have been a bigger motivator for us. Some of the sales reps were motivated by competing with each other. I would have done well with a personal competition in which I tried to outdo my previous records (because I’m extremely competitive against myself but only selectively competitive against others).

In your business, you’re competing against many things: Your competitors, your customers’ objections, and even yourself (and the time you want to spend on your business versus doing other things). Finding the things that motivate you can help you to overcome that competition.

Business owners aren’t all motivated by money. Although money is nice to earn and an easy way to measure your success, there are many other motivators that will compel you to fight harder and work longer: Perhaps your motivators are generic like “I want to have more time with my family” or “I want to retire at 50”. Or perhaps they are more specific like “I want to succeed this year to pay for a vacation to the Caribbean”.

The best thing you can do for your business is figure out what your motivators are and use them in some way. It works for me in my workouts because if there’s ever a day that I want to skip working out, I just think that I’ll have to face the humiliation I’ll face in front of my two fellow competitors and that is enough to motivate me to get back into it.

Once you’ve figured out what motivates you, tie it closely to your business. For example, if you want to retire at 50: Figure out how much money you want to have saved for retirement and then divide that by the number of years you have until you turn 50. Now you have an annual goal, which you should break down into monthly and even weekly goals. Each and every week when you earn that money, you can think about being one step closer to retirement.

Narrowing down your motivators and tying it to your business has another benefit, too: You begin to see how specific products or services you sell have a direct impact on achieving your goals. For example, I love having a batch of big and small clients to give me some variety in my work. However, because I’ve tied my motivations to my business, I’ve discovered that I may be running a profitable business but I’m not consistently contributing to my goals. It has meant a revision in how many clients I keep at one time and it means I’ve had to institute a monthly minimum order from my clients. In doing this, I’ve been able to move my business back toward having a direct impact on my goals.

Figuring out what motivates you is the first step, and it’s also more challenging than you might think… often because many business owners just assume that money has some kind of motivating impact. It doesn’t; or, at least, it’s not always the primary motivator.

Once you’ve figured out what motivates you, quantify it. (For example, it your motivator is “time with family”, you’ll need to identify how much time, when you’ll spend that time, and how much you need to earn in your work-time to allow you to take some family-time).

Then, break down those numbers into smaller chunks — monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, per product, per service, per client, etc. This step will allow you to see how the decisions you make every day can positively or negatively impact the achievement of your dreams.

Published by Aaron Hoos

Aaron Hoos is a writer, strategist, and investor who builds and optimizes profitable sales funnels. He is the author of The Sales Funnel Bible and other books.

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