Finally, 2021 is here!
Who has been dying to say that? We’re guessing a good majority of you. Even if you are one of those “realistic” types who say New Year’s is just another day, you are probably still marginally excited to see the calendar change.
We love the new year because with a new year comes new energy. People make resolutions, companies reset budgets, and the kids go back to school (usually). In general, it seems like people have more momentum. For most, this momentum lasts until about the second week of February. Or at least, according to US News & World Report, that’s when ~80% of New Year’s resolutions are dropped.
Momentum can come and go
Momentum can come and go at all times of the year, not just the first month-and-a-half of the year. And that’s OK, but that’s why you should consistently be taking steps to sustain your momentum. It’s essential to recognize what works for you, so you can stay motivated when challenges arise.
It can be easy to lose momentum during challenging times or when plans change. Especially if it’s a significant and unplanned change, such as, oh say, a pandemic. Not that we want to bring up the past since we did start this conversation excited for 2021. But it’s important to mention because it was a massive concern for many business owners last year and the reason we decided to talk about it.
Business owners had to uproot their existing plans and hastily make a “pandemic pivot.” (Raise your hand if you NEVER want to hear the word pivot again, unless you’re watching that Friends episode.) The drastic and sudden change caused people to struggle with staying motivated, in addition to the zillion other curveballs that 2020 threw at us.
We heard from so many WBL members and colleagues just how hard it was to keep the momentum, between quarantine, homeschooling, and all the traumatic events of the year. So, if you felt like you lost your drive last year, you weren’t alone (even if you were, literally, alone).
But what if you’re reading this and thinking: OK, but I never even had momentum. Maybe you’re just starting a business and not sure where to even begin. So, before we tackle the topic of sustaining and regaining momentum, let’s talk about building it.
One of the BEST ways to build momentum is to surround yourself with others who are “up to big things.” Hint, hint, this is where groups like Women’s Business League come in. We’re not just saying this to pat ourselves on the back. We’re saying it because it’s true. When other people with drive and enthusiasm surround you, it’s bound to have a positive impact on you.
Another crucial step in building momentum is connecting with your customers. Yara Osler, Co-Leader of WBL’s MetroWest Chapter and Vice President, Business Development Banker at Capital One, says build momentum by knowing “who your customer is, what problems they have, and how you and your product and/or services solve them.” Osler says, “Make sure you are unapologetically customer-centric!”
Echoing this statement is Andrea MacKenzie, Co-Leader of WBL’s Westside LA Chapter and Lead With Harmony Founder as well as a business consultant and certified professional coach. She suggests that business owners start by doing “some research with people who are in your ideal client base.” Many business owners make the mistake of being all things to all people. This effort often has the opposite effect, causing people to feel overwhelmed and ineffective.
There’s a reason MacKenzie and many other successful business people preach “niching down.” It’s an integral part of building momentum. As MacKenzie explains: “This type of focus shows that you have confidence in what you do and positions you as the go-to expert for a particular group that you know how to reach and serve.”
OK, so you’ve found a great community, you’ve talked to your customers, you’ve niched down. You’re feeling good. You’ve successfully built momentum. Now, how do you sustain it?
One way we’ve kept the momentum over the last few years of WBL is by celebrating small wins. Be enthusiastic and optimistic about everything that happens along the way, even the small things. Instead of lamenting what you have yet to do, celebrate what you have done. Because we’re pretty sure you’ve done a lot!
Along the same lines, don’t hesitate to grab that low-hanging fruit. Maybe it’s taking a small project you know you can knock out of the park. It may not be your meal ticket, but it may just give you the boost of confidence you need.
When we focus on things that we enjoy and do well, it’s a natural momentum-booster. That’s why it’s critical to evaluate which business activities energize you and which ones drain you. Osler cautions, “Make sure you do more of what brings you energy and less of what drains you, so you don’t run out of energy.”
She suggests saving the high-energy activities when you know you’ll have lots of energy, like don’t schedule a client call at 5 pm when you’re exhausted. She also automates certain tasks by creating customizable templates. “Follow up is important for business owners, so having templates can help make sure you are able to do it in a timely, low energy output way,” Osler says.
For some activities, though, you might need to delegate or outsource. MacKenzie says, “Try to enlist help for the things that cause you stress or take up too much of your time.” Asking for help is never easy, especially for women, but it’s so important. You can’t keep the momentum if you’re burning the candle at both ends.
Delegating is a big part of keeping momentum, but don’t hesitate to take it a step further and collaborate. We’ve seen our members have great success in partnering with other business owners in their industry or even across industries. Ideally, you’d find a partner that complements your expertise and energy, so the partnership is easy. The great thing about collaborating with someone is that you automatically have an accountability partner. And as we know from any successful workout program, an accountability partner is huge. (BRB, Apple Watch is yelling at me to get my steps in.)
Despite your best efforts, there will likely come the point when you can’t help but feel the momentum fading. Maybe it’s mid-February, or perhaps it’s a pandemic, but what do you do?
First, evaluate the situation. Take a step back and try to figure out why you are losing momentum. For some, that means meditating or tapping into faith. For others, it could be as simple as going for a walk or taking a hot shower. Life coach and WBL’s Neponset Valley Co-Leader Lisa DeMarco suggests journaling and reflecting to identify the cause. Whatever you do, make self-care a priority so you can reflect. Although, self-care should always be part of your routine.
MacKenzie attributes losing momentum in your business to one of three things: your attention is being pulled away, your attitude and motivation have declined, or you’re doing too many things yourself. The pandemic has made all three of these things true for many people.
Once you’ve identified the causes, you can determine steps to rebuild the momentum. MacKenzie says you can “decide where you can get help, support, and relief, where you can let yourself off the hook, and where you can place your focus with renewed energy to get the momentum back.”
Some business owners found that setting better boundaries between work and home helped. Osler found that building in time for “small but meaningful activities” with her kids throughout the day allows her to be “more intentional and effective at work.” DeMarco suggests, “Find energy in a new healthy activity such as yoga or a daily walk.” The pandemic may not be over, but you can try to make changes in your own routine.
However, if all else fails, Osler says, reach out to your tribe and “ask them to remind you of who you are and why you do what you do!”
Momentum is part of business
You know we are ALWAYS happy to lift you up at the Women’s Business League. So, whenever you feel the momentum starting to fade, give us a call. We’ll remind you that you are awesome and unstoppable.
Momentum is a big part of business—creating it, sustaining it, and even losing it. Losing momentum can be just the thing you need to reset and realign. Think about how many businesses reinvented themselves over the last year.
The critical part about momentum is knowing what works for you and recognizing when it’s fading, so you know how to regain it. Here’s hoping your 2021 has lots of momentum, success, and toilet paper.
*Get your Free Momentum Worksheet here.