Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tips to help small business owners stay motivated by Michelle Mone, OBE

I know first-hand how tough it can be to run your own business. I left school at the age of 15 without any qualifications and worked my way up the career ladder until I decided to become my own boss and founded Ultimo Bras at the age of 24. Ultimo is now a globally recognised lingerie brand.

Based on my experience I do not believe qualifications are the secret to business success. Instead it is all about your mind-set. Often the toughest part is keeping a business running and continuing to grow and innovate, after you have launched.

So here are my top tips for staying focused and motivated…

1. Self-motivation is key

To get anywhere in the world of work, you've got to rely on yourself to drive you forward. We all need someone around who motivates us, but if you don't motivate yourself then you're never going to get there. Nothing is ever going to be easy - or everyone would be doing it. But you've got to have that passion and determination to start with.

2. Keep focus

So how do you maintain that motivation? Write down what you want to achieve in your life and in your career. Write down your goals and write down a plan of how you're going to get there. Look at those notes every day. Remind yourself where you were when you wrote them down and take a picture in your mind.

3. The eternal optimist

We're all going to face rejection at some point, especially in today's economy. The key thing to remember is that when you fall down, you need to pick yourself back up quickly and have a smile on your face. There is always something better around the corner if you are prepared to work for it.  

4. Dreams can come true

The best thing to do is to dream. Go where really motivates you and dream. It's amazing what you can do once you get in the zone and get your mind sorted, it’s incredible what you can achieve.

5. What makes you tick?

Confidence arises from different things in different people, but one thing we all tend to agree with is that it comes from within. For me, it is important that I look good as well as feel good for important business occasions. However, not everyone wants to wear high heels, a tight dress and a blow-dry. It's whatever suits you. You've got to work out what makes you perform and do more of it. Confidence helps the business grow. So think about what makes you feel your best, and remember to bring that to work every day.

6. Doubt the doubters

When you put yourself out there, there's always the risk that doubters and those who are hyper-critical may become obstacles in your path. But at times like those, you've got to muster up all the confidence you've got and remember to turn the negatives into positives. Grow a thick skin as quickly as you can so that you are able to take criticism in your stride rather than allowing it to derail you. As long as you're a good person and you do good things, then you shouldn't care about everyone else's opinion of you.

7. It’s not about gender

I think the recent cabinet reshuffle is fantastic as I am sure the new female members will do an amazing job. However it is vital that women succeed in business based on our own merits and that we are not helped or hindered by our gender. If women are right for the job, then it doesn't matter about gender. It doesn't matter if they are wearing a bra or not wearing a bra. They should get the job on their skills and that should be the way to think about it.

8. Be an inspiration

My biggest business inspiration is Sir Richard Branson, whose progress I followed as a young girl growing up. I hope I am a role model, not just for women but for men as well. Hopefully I show people that one day, if that's what you want, you could get an OBE from the Queen.

9. Work hard and open doors

I left school at fifteen with no qualifications – not that education doesn't matter, of course it matters – but I've worked my way up from nothing to where I am today. Everyone is special whether you've come from money and opportunity or not. You can create your own; you don't have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth to succeed in business.

10. Take advice and always seek new opportunities
If you are a small business owner or sole trader struggling to achieve a healthy cash flow, you are not alone – as an entrepreneur myself there are very few issues I haven’t faced and I know that it’s not always easy!  I’m proud to support Kalixa Pro and the Spirit of Small Business Awards which help and recognise those businesses that are going the extra mile – whether that’s through amazing ideas and entrepreneurship, ensuring customer retention and year on year growth or simply launching a fantastic business idea or concept.

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