After 23 years of being a business owner, I get tired.
Some days it feels like I’m stuck on a hamster wheel with nothing new in my future. We’re doing the same things we’ve done for over 20 years. Same business plan, in the same location, and with the same people…
And it can be incredibly exhausting to do the exact same paperwork for the 276th time (that’s the number of times I’ve had to run monthly reports – so far).
Call it a slump, depression or boredom. There are days when anyone can find their job insufferable and when it’s almost impossible to be motivated. This a challenge when you’re an employee. It’s actually dangerous if you’re a business owner.
While we obviously can’t ignore our responsibilities, we can make our jobs more enjoyable. We can find new passions and incorporate them into our business day. In short, we can make our work mean something more than just a healthy balance sheet.
Always Be Genuine
There is nothing worse than a fake social entrepreneur. My favorite example is BP’s attempt at making everything sound great after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They created a series of videos and advertisements, including Voices From The Gulf: Best Place, to project that everything was back to normal. But why didn’t they promote local businesses before the disaster? Why did it take a historic oil spill to get them to reach out and help the people, animals, and economy of the Gulf? To me, this screams insincere. It seems like a PR ploy to get people to forget the damage done by their business.
The first step in changing your attitude through social entrepreneurship must come from a genuine place. It shouldn’t be a PR stunt or a way to gloss over unfortunate business situations. You may do those things to help your business, but soul-enriching social entrepreneurship has to start from a purely philanthropic place.
Share Your Stories and Be an Inspiration
My business has a few social issues we support: endangered animals, equality, and environmental responsibility. These are all things we would do even if we didn’t own a business but it’s a pleasure to incorporate them into my business in creative ways. It’s even better when I can share why I care about these issues.
In 21 Helpful Ebook Ideas For Online Entrepreneurs and Bloggers, Kristen Runvik explained that:
Tell your story! What do you know now that you wish you would have known before? Showing your authentic, vulnerable side with your readers can build an emotional connection with your brand, even if the content doesn’t give them a step by step or how-to. They’ll learn simply through reading your story.
It’s true that sharing your story will bring a human touch to your brand and may help business. It’s also true that being an inspiration to others can help you realize how much your work matters. Motivating others to do good work can improve your attitude and give you a good reason to keep going.
Connect Your Profits to Your Causes
Want a foolproof way to change your lackadaisical business attitude? Incorporate a cause into your business and connect your profits directly to the causes you care about most.
There are a lot of very popular social entrepreneurs who are following in the footsteps of Toms buy-one-give-one approach. This may be a little too extreme for your business model so consider giving a percentage of your profits to a cause. Sevenly, who call themselves Advocacy Apparel Outfitters, have weekly campaigns and pledge $7 per purchase to selected nonprofits. The more they sell, the more they can give.
Think about the causes you care about the most. Maybe it’s the environment and you eliminate all plastic shopping bags from your stores in favor of recycled paper bags. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Just be inventive, creative and incorporate that into your business. Maybe work won’t seem so boring when you know your simple actions are making a difference.
Make It More Than a Job
Your business suffers when you’re tired and unmotivated. And it’s up to you to figure out how to ignite some spark back into your attitude.
In Why And How To Become A Purpose-Driven Company, Cynthia Stewart explains:
If you suffer from low employee engagement or missed performance targets, you may be lacking in purpose. When people don’t have a unified purpose, they begin to lose meaning and worse, they begin to believe that what they’re doing has no real value.
Business can be monotonous, frustrating or even depressing. Since we’re all human, these are normal emotions during a life spent in business. But maybe a lack of purpose is at the heart of why your attitude is negative. Maybe it’s time to stop focusing on the self-centered aspects of your business and start looking at ways your business can help others.
Because you have nothing to lose and a new attitude to gain.