Embarking on the journey of becoming an entrepreneur is one that is filled with many ups and downs. The question is: how can entrepreneurs keep up the passion and drive through testing times?
If you are just starting out in your business, you will know what I mean. Sometimes you are on a roll – inspiration constantly hits you and you work away endlessly, sometimes for hours or days on end. When your ideas become real, you are fuelled with even more motivation, for example, when you receive your first logo design or preview your new website. Sometimes, however, things aren’t as exciting, especially when you realize the amount of administration and bureaucracy you have to overcome! And inevitably, you will encounter bumps along the way. You may find it hard to reach your ideal customers, for example, or you might be finding it difficult to define who your target market is. You might be struggling with finding the time to devote to building your business, or the whole process may be taking a lot longer than you had originally anticipated.
Starting an entrepreneurial project is hard work and many people do not realize the labor that goes into it. Although becoming an entrepreneur may sound glamorous, there are times where you might feel like giving up or begin to question why you even started this in the first place.
But as with all good things, nothing is easy and Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) has informed us that we will be tested, especially with our wealth. So when you are feeling helpless and completely demotivated, try these 5 practical steps to keep up the passion and drive for working on your business.
1. Remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He)
Did you know that working in your own business can be an act of worship? It all comes down to the intention.
So ask yourself, what made you want to start your business?
It is likely that your reasoning is to earn a halal living; perhaps it is to feed and shelter your family and contribute towards your family income; maybe it is because you want to help your parents; or possibly because you want to be beneficial to the community.
All of these things are worship. Worship transcends the ritual acts that we obligated to complete, because anything you do to please Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) becomes ibaadah, even sitting and doing the accounts in your office! As long as you set your intentions right, you will be rewarded for every action you take. You will be rewarded even before your business gets off the ground! This is because actions are rewarded by intention. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,
“Verily actions are [rewarded] by their intentions, and one shall only have [the reward] for that which one intended.” [Sahih al Bukhari]
2. Surround yourself with beneficial company
The people that you have around you play a big part in affecting you on your entrepreneurial journey. Have a think about the people that you are close to or regularly hang around with. Do they encourage and support you? Are they full of optimism and positivity about your dreams or do they mock you and put you down? Do they give you suggestions and advice on how to develop your ideas or are they dismissive of your dreams and desires?
Whether or not we realize it, the company that we keep influences us greatly. To help you remain motivated on your route to becoming your own boss, you must surround yourself with like-minded, proactive people who will inspire you and encourage your success. There are many ways that you can do this if you do not already have beneficial people in your circle: attend events that relate to your business niche, or join groups on social media within your business industry.
3. Visualise the end goal
This involves creating a mental image of what your business could be in the future. It is a simple but extremely powerful in enabling you to stay motivated when starting your business.
Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed or distracted. Then close your eyes. Relax. Release the tension from your shoulders. Breath in and out, deeply and slowly. Breathe in and out. Now, imagine your dream business. What does it look like? Where is it? Who is there? Employees? Friends? Customers? How do you feel? Happy? Excited? Fulfilled? Explore your surroundings. Take it all in. Hold the vision for as long as possible. Gently open your eyes.
The power of visualization is not to be underestimated. Its effectiveness means that it is used by many successful individuals as part of the process to achieve their goals, especially within the sports industry; famous sportspeople like Michael Jordan are known to use visualization in their training. Visualisation works by priming our body to act in ways that are consistent with what we imagined.
You can visualize your dream business as often as you need to. I recommend it once at the beginning of the day. Making visualization a habit will help you at points of low motivation, as it will serve as a reminder of why you went into the entrepreneurship in the first place.
Also, have a good expectation of Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He), and that so long as you’re doing everything in a halal manner, Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He) will always bring you what is best and remove from your way what is harmful.
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Allah says: ‘I am just as My slave thinks I am, (i.e. I am able to do for him what he thinks I can do for him) and I am with him if He remembers Me. If he remembers Me in himself, I too, remember him in Myself; and if he remembers Me in a group of people, I remember him in a group that is better than they; and if he comes one span nearer to Me, I go one cubit nearer to him; and if he comes one cubit nearer to Me, I go a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him; and if he comes to Me walking, I go to him running.’ ” [Sahih Al Bukhari]
4. Develop a mind map
A ‘brainstorm’, or ‘mind map’ is a diagram which you could create to map out all the areas and plans for your business. It could include your long and short-term goals, a brief financial plan and your market research. These can be as detailed or as brief as you want them to be and personalized to your exact needs. When you work through a section of your map and achieve a goal, you will feel a sense of gratification and accomplishment, as you are visually seeing the progress you are making. Mind maps were initially drawn out by hand, but there are numerous websites that allow you to create a mind map for free.
A lot of the time, people with great ideas take a few steps towards working on their ideas but end up giving up on their dreams because they don’t feel like they are making much progress. That usually happens when we don’t have a clear plan of action. We do some work here and there, with no direction or a clear plan of what we are doing, and what the next steps will be. Is it any wonder then that it is hard to follow through? To remain motivated you need to create a plan of what steps you will take and when. Mind maps are great to show the steps you will take in the near future, and how they will have a greater effect on your project. When will you create a marketing campaign? When will you carry out research on your ideal customers? When will you develop your website? Having clear goals that are timed will allow you to have a birds-eye view of where you are, the progress you have made and how much time is left till you reach your end goal. In doing so, you will remain motivated to continue on your journey.
5. Welcome failure
Expect failure as part of the journey. When things are not going to plan, it can cause us to feel demotivated. Rather than let it get you down, expect failure to be part of the process. Learn from the experience. Take note of what went wrong, and more importantly, why? What could you do better next time? Or what do you need to avoid doing? Every failure can be viewed as a learning opportunity.
Another point about failure is anticipation. Whenever you make a decision, think of the best and worst outcomes; plan ahead in the case of worst outcomes, so that if your plan didn’t go right, you will feel a sense of relief because you already know how to pick it up again.
“How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” [Sahih Muslim]
Remember, the road to becoming an entrepreneur is not a straight one. There will be good days and there will be bad days. Just remember that your rizq (provision) has been written for you, and therefore will not miss you. Do whatever you can, complete your tasks with ihsaan (excellence) and leave the rest to Allah subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He).
It was narrated from Jabir bin ‘Abdullah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“O people, fear Allah and be moderate in seeking a living, for no soul will die until it has received all its provision, even if it is slow in coming. So fear Allah and be moderate in seeking provision; take that which is permissible and leave that which is forbidden. ” [Sunan Ibn Majah]
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