Building a small business is no easy task, especially while you’re still working your 9-5 (and raising a family or focusing on other priorities). Your new venture is exciting and staying motivated at work can be a struggle when you’re constantly thinking about how to move your business to the next level.
Don’t worry; you’re not alone. 44% of new business owners (2-5 years in business) choose to stay at their 9-5 until their “side hustle” is profitable enough to become their primary source of income. But you don’t want your work at your full-time job to suffer because of it.
Barbara Corcoran, Entrepreneur and Shark Tank judge, recently answered several small business owners’ questions. The first question asked was about staying motivated on building up your business while you’re working a 9-5 and raising a family. (Read the full Q&A here) This question resonated with me because I’m a huge supporter of small business owners. (I’ve always worked with them & I’m married to one)
After reading this Q&A, I realized that Barbara’s answer works the other way around too! Because I often hear from business owners how hard it is to stay focused on your day job when all you want to do is work to grow your business, I want to dive into the topic a bit further.
Barbara Corcoran doled out two fantastic pieces of advice on prioritization and getting help.
“I rate my items an A, B, or C (A being the most important) and try to make sure to get all of my As & a few of my Bs done each day. This sort of organization & daily practice helps me stay focused and move my business ahead.”
If you don’t have a system for prioritization yet, you need to get one, and this is an excellent method. The hardest part of prioritization is your priorities change every day. I make sure to update my priority list every evening, so when I get up in the morning, I know exactly what I need to do. My “A” list is usually transferred to a post-it and stuck to my laptop before I close it for the day. For additional ideas, read this guide on time management for small business owners.
2: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
“Think about getting another mom [or someone who will be passionate about your business] as a partner, ideally someone with an opposite skill set to help you build your business. I had my partner Esther and could never have had my family without her.”
Building a business is a daunting task, especially by yourself. It’s not any less “your business” if you bring on a partner. My husband and his business partner have complementary skills, which exponentially increases their creativity, resources, and networks. Working together brought both of them further than they ever could’ve gotten on their own.
Here are 3 more useful tips to stay motivated at your 9-5.
3: Be present
I recently took a workshop based on the book Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. One of the suggested tools is to set an intention each month. Because in addition to working full time, I am getting my MBA, and help my husband with his business. I chose “Be here, prepared to be nowhere else.” Because I no longer worry about school or my husband’s business during the day, I can focus on my job (which I love), and it has revived my excitement toward what I do here every day.
4: Reward yourself
Sometimes, nothing works better than plain old bribery. It worked when you were a little kid (you may even currently use this method on your own kids), and it’ll work now. Make your adult version of a sticker chart and reward yourself when you complete certain goals. Ice cream tends to work as my ultimate motivator for, well, almost anything. (Apparently, my desired reward hasn’t changed since I was a kid either.)
5: Take a Break
I know this is counterintuitive considering how busy you are, but hear me out. There are many theories on how often you should take a break and how to chunk up your day. (You can try the Pomodoro Technique—25 minutes on 5 minutes off—which I’ve used and it worked for me. I’ve also read about work 52 minutes and break 17 minutes.) The common thread between any method you choose is: breaks make you more productive. The more you get done in a day, the more accomplished you will feel, and the more motivated you will be to complete your next task. So, go with the method that works best for you and “break” your way to the top.