10 Ways to Motivate Yourself When Business is Slow
Why did you become an accountant? When considering the reasons, “Because I love the lengthy client-acquisition process and selling myself in a competitive environment” was likely not one of them. The reality is life involves slow periods in business. If you are in a small practice or a sole practitioner, this can become very depressing. How do you get yourself motivated?
In no particular order, here are 10 steps to motivate yourself when business is slow.
1. How did you get your best clients? Who are your best clients? Years ago, the group, PSB Training, active in the financial services field, would ask the same question, followed by, “How did you get them as clients?” The group would also ask, “When was the last time you performed that activity?” The answer was often, “Oh, I stopped doing that years ago.”
Action step: Ask yourself the same questions.
2.Step back. You attend conferences. You mentor formally or informally. You offer advice. Suppose you were approached by someone in a similarly-sized practice facing the same problems? What would you advise them to do?
Action step: Use that strategy to view your practice from another person’s perspective. If you feel you need an additional level of help, consider engaging a business coach specializing in the accounting field.
3.Break down goals. You’ve set goals and aren’t meeting them. Maybe you need more goals. Instead of focusing only on business revenue goals, add some related to activities. How many clients have you called? How many client meetings were held? These should include business development components. How many calls did you make to businesses new to the area? How many networking events have you attended?
Action step: Expand your goals to include activities that lead to business. You will find you accomplish more than you think.
4.Keep a business journal. You perform lots of activities during the day. Not all crash and burn. Build a business journal on your laptop. Include such categories as “Good things that happened today” and “Other things that happened.” It’s important to add headings for your business objectives, such as “What did I do to find new business today?” and “What did I do to get referrals or additional business from current clients?” One of the reasons Weight Watchers is successful is the weekly weigh-in requirement. Holding yourself accountable will motivate you to perform activities that further your objectives.
Action step: Start your business journal. You will find the “good things” list is usually much longer than the “other (bad) things” list.
5.Hold an annual meeting. If you work in a public company, a shareholder meeting would be held annually. Because you own your practice, it’s likely an audience of one at your meeting. Write out a series of questions and hold your meeting with yourself. Type out the answers. What are the challenges we are facing? What are our successes? What do we do well? Where do we need to improve? What are our next steps? The format will keep you honest.
Action step: Hold your meeting. Maybe you need to add 10 new clients of a certain size. Perhaps you have a niche. What have you promised the shareholders (you)?
6.Find a positive friend. It’s easy to find negative friends. Some fine examples even convince you things will get even worse. They gain pleasure by making others feel miserable. Find the other friend – the fellow with both a similar practice and a positive attitude. Offer to buy him lunch.
Action step: Ask what challenges he is facing in his business. What are his successes? How does he keep himself motivated? Tell your story, including the pros and cons from your annual meeting. Ask for his feedback.
7. Live a rounded life. You are not a financial monk, living in a monastic order who arrives in the office at 7:30 a.m., toils until 7:30 p.m., returns home, eats dinner, goes to sleep, and repeats the process. Life needs fun elements: bed and breakfast overnights with your spouse, road trips, visits to the zoo, pretending you are a tourist.
Action step: Having fun doesn’t need to cost much money. You need to leave your professional life behind for a few hours or days, then return refreshed. Inspiration often strikes during those breaks.
8. Begin your day with a blank canvas. Nothing has gone wrong yet. Why start out with a bad attitude? Years ago, I attended a training seminar for financial advisors led by a psychologist. Marty Cohen was his name, as I recall. He talked about the “Day One” concept. Your plan is to head in a different direction. Today is the first day of your journey.
Action step: Your work can be stressful. Arrive at work with an open mind.
9.Start an advisory council. You have clients who like you. They want you to succeed. They would help if they could, but they don’t know how.
Action step: Invite several to join your informal advisory council. You respect their business acumen. Everyone needs to grow their business. Meet quarterly, perhaps over lunch, dinner, or even coffee and doughnuts in your conference room. Report back on the recommendations they made and the actions you took.
10.Help others. Do something in the community to give back. This might be a social service organization or a cultural institution. You meet other people. You are helping them be successful. The people on the receiving end are better because of your involvement.
Action step: Keep up your volunteer commitments. Don’t limit yourself to board-level activities. Show up on-site where the organization meets the public. See how doing your part makes the lives of others better.
It’s easy to get down when business is slow. Your life isn’t all about business. Look at the larger picture. You will see successes, too.
Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He provides high-net-worth client acquisition training for the financial services industry. His book, Captivating the Wealthy Investor, can be found on Amazon.com.