Have you lost your motivation?

"Business owners lose motivation, and that's OK."

People expect business owners to be 100% committed to their jobs 100% of the time. I’ll let you in on a secret…business owners lose motivation, and that’s OK!

More shocking is the frequency with which the spark dies. Business owners need ways to keep the fire burning and rekindle the passion when it’s gone.

According to our latest research, more than a third (35%) of business owners lose motivation completely at least once a year. This is alarmingly high. Occasional doubt is human nature, but regular loss of motivation can be dangerous. If the love is lost, the business can quickly burn out and become a difficult entity to work with.

So what is causing business owners to lose their mojo? How can they head this off at the pass? And what can be done when it feels like all is lost?

The darker side of success

You might be surprised to hear that many of my clients blame loss of motivation on their success, or more specifically their lack of debt-related pressure. Total comfort can be a double-edged sword, because it encourages a lapse into boredom and apathy. Our research helps to support this, showing that loss of motivation increases alongside company turnover. More than half (53%) of business owners with a turnover between £20 million and £50 million completely lose motivation at least once a year. One client told me he actually misses the fact that he has no debt, because it used to scare him and give him something to focus on.

Let’s not forget that running a business is also a tough gig. Our psychological testing showed that this is by far the most stressful thing in business owners’ lives. When asked where the stress stems from, financial worries comes top of the list.

Stoking the fire

Even if it is inevitable, there are three things that every business owner can do to stem the ebb and flow of motivation month in, month out: keep it fresh, keep training yourself and keep it challenging.

Business owner boredom can be a result of doing the same thing day in day out for many years. It’s imperative that business owners keep seeking out new and exciting challenges, even if they’re successful, so that they don’t fall out of love with their business.

Business owners can also be so engrossed in the day-to-day business workings that they spend little time growing themselves as a business leader or developing their skill set, instead becoming unchallenged and demotivated. This is something I see a lot in the SME sector. Compare that to fields like sport: Andy Murray and Rory McIlroy, both at times proven to be the best in the world at what they do, still have coaches.

Finally, you need to surround yourself with people who are willing to challenge you. Having an experienced, intelligent and challenging group of advisers and colleagues around you can help to keep things fresh, give you a new target to strive for and feed the “spark” of running a business with enthusiasm.

Getting your spark back

If you do hit a bump in the road, it’s important to light a clear path to find your way back – not just for the sake of your business and the people who depend on you, but for your own wellbeing.

It begins with something remarkably simple: remember why you started the company in the first place. Our study backs this up, with more than a third (39%) of founders identifying this as their biggest re-motivator.

Top of the list of re-motivating factors is family, suggesting that it pays to step back and look at the bigger picture, and lean on those powerful support networks – both personal and professional – that you have built up around you.

David Fort
Haines Watts

More than a third (35%) business owners lose motivation completely at least once a year


More than half (53%) of business owners with a turnover between £20 million and £50 million completely lose motivation at least once a year...

For Love or Money is the first comprehensive study into the lives of modern business
owners. Recognise the issues we've highlighted?

Meet us