Self-motivation strategies to become a successful entrepreneur

Malavika Varadan/Dubai
Filed on September 16, 2021

Mantras to navigate the polarities that arise when you are your own boss

The range of self-talk that falls between “I’m the best” and working for yourself, or by yourself is exhausting — and I just want to say this out loud so that others like me know that they are not alone in feeling it.

In 2019, I took the bravest decision of my life — to stop working for someone else and start working for myself instead. I was smitten by the bold and beautiful entrepreneur life portrayed in the movies:

• A life of high heels and power jackets

• Caffeine-powered meetings

• Building a legacy by drawing out the 10-year plan for my business on white boards, to rooms full of listeners hanging on to my every word

• Collapsing into my couch every evening, talking about how good the hustle feels

• Four-hour work weeks

• A life of platinum cards and networking events

• Saying things like “Let’s pencil that in for 3 pm on a Thursday” and “I will have my team look into that” and “I want to be ON the business, not IN it.”

• Walking very fast and very purposefully with my eyes on the far distance

This could not be further from the truth. On most days my “I-work-for-myself/small-business-owner-life” looks like this:

• A tired woman, finding the motivation to pick up my laptop and finally send that email I have been putting off

• Cleaning up, barefoot

• Trying to find a plumber/electrician/accountant/IT person to fix some very random, crippling problem

• Mentally rehearsing a difficult conversation I must have, but would like to avoid at any cost

• Arguing with myself (Wow! She really won’t let it go, will she?)

• Thinking of a work problem at 4:00 am, 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm because what is work:life balance again?!

• Waiting for motivation to strike — but can it strike at exactly 59 minutes past the hour? Because I’ll start at the TOP of the hour

• Scrolling through social media endlessly wondering how everyone else has it together

• Worrying that all you ever talk about is your work — and will you look like a fool asking other people to declare their love for your brand publicly?

• Also, why can’t people just know that the work I do is amazing — and must I spend so much time talking ABOUT what I do, as opposed to just doing it?

• A dash of anxiety, a sprinkling of self-doubt and imposter syndrome for garnish

The more I do this, the more I realise that when we prepare our next generation to be leaders, risk-takers, entrepreneurs, change-makers — what we really need to teach is, self-management. As a child, my parents managed me. As a young adult, my teachers managed me, as a young professional, I was managed by my supervisors at work, and in 35 years, I am only learning NOW how to be a good boss to myself.

As younger people would say, the struggle is real.