So you’ve got talent.
You’ve acquired relevant industry experience and valuable expertise.
You’ve found a pain point or gap in your industry, you’ve done your homework, and you know your solution will help people. Check.
You even know who these people are and how to find them. You’ve checked all the boxes, right?
Success in an entrepreneurial endeavour can be multi-faceted, and it requires the very best of us. Sometimes it requires us to be skilled in areas we currently aren’t, and sometimes it requires us to work hard at things that don’t excite us.
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With awareness and motivation, we can acquire new skills. We can also hire people who are more skilled in certain areas that we are, or we can outsource everything from our accounting and bookkeeping to our social media strategy and even content. But how do we increase our motivation for things that need to happen in our business that don’t normally excite us? Specifically, how can you grow a business when you’re not motivated by money?
In their book Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behaviour, Edward L. Deci and Richard M. Ryan describe motivation as having two components; energy and direction. The energy associated with our motivation, according to Deci and Ryan, consists of our innate (i.e. survival) drives, as well as our environmental, or learned desires.
An example of the latter variety would be spending a lot of time with highly intelligent peers, only to see ones’ desire to learn and better themselves grow.
The directional aspects of motivation are tied to internal and external stimuli, according to the authors. In business terms as it relates to money, this could be the panic caused by an imminent cash shortfall and the inability to pay one’s bills (internal, at least emotionally). It could also be noticing that revenues are off target two months in a row as flagged by effective dashboards.
In short, we can generally only become motivated by things that truly matter to us, and/ or when we perceive that taking action can help us achieve something that matters to us or avoid something we don’t want.
When it comes to money, almost any entrepreneur will be motivated to a point. That point is generally when they are comfortable, or at least not afraid of not being able to pay their bills. For many people, comfort is one step away from complacency, which is when we become less proactive and start coasting.
When it comes to business growth, this sort of approach all but guarantees no new business stimulus, and thus firm ceiling on the head of the entrepreneur (and their team) when it comes to growth.
Circling back to the question, the answer lies in manipulating the variables of motivation. We need to find a way to lift our internal or external need for money; or we need to find a way to have our measurable hit home earlier or more meaningfully.
In terms of energy (need), an entrepreneur may decide to;
- Increase their monthly investments, therefore increasing the amount of monthly revenue required to remain cash positive
- Increase their monthly philanthropic efforts, achieving the same end but serving a different motivation
- Surround themselves with entrepreneurs who think differently than they do in terms of finances or who do more for charity, thereby lifting their own perceived need to earn or donate
In terms of direction (measurement), and entrepreneur may;
- Change the threshold acceptable values in terms of minimum revenue they aim for
- Change their budget or goals to increase revenue targets
- Change their accounts payable or accounts receivable terms (and days)
In my experience, there is one more method to changing motivation when it comes to money (or anything else), and it’s all about alignment.
As a former football player, and as a red-assertive directing personality archetype in the Total SDI system, I’m a highly competitive person. I am motivated by competition. My motivation in writing this article lies in my experience finding a way around my lack of motivation around money. In short, I’m not motivated my money, but I’ve learned to become very motivated by revenue.
What’s the difference you may ask? To me, money helps pay the bills and buy stuff. I’m motivated to pay the bills, but I’m not motivated to buy stuff.
Revenue, however, is the sum of all of the working parts of my business. As a formula, revenue = sales efforts + sales effectiveness + billing speed & accuracy + client service + client retention – refunds (errors or client service issues) and client departures (client service issues).
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Furthermore, as a competitive person whose number one core value is ‘personal growth’, it’s extremely motivating to measure revenue in month over month or year over year terms. I’m not motivated by money, but I was very motivated and encouraged to try even harder when I saw my business reach year over year growth of 1,589% from August 2016 to August 2017! Now that my business is wrapping up its’ third year of operations, those growth numbers are next to impossible to achieve, but I’m still just as motivated to measure revenue growth, even if my motivation around money hasn’t changed.
In closing, we can change our needs, we can change our measures, and we can align what we need to do with how we are already motivated. Let us know in the comments what you’ve done to grow your business even if you’re not motivated by money. Best of luck, entrepreneurs!
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