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Self-Motivation and Optimism – The Key to Entrepreneurial Success

March 15, 2013 by Dr. Jon Warner in Entrepreneurship

Self-Motivation and Optimism – The Key to Entrepreneurial Success

In order to be an entrepreneur you will be carrying not only the burden of your new business but if you employ people, the burden of having to pay wages and support others as much as necessary. You will therefore have little time to worry about your own needs. Hence if you don’t much like who you are and need to be in any way selfish or need to get away from it all on a regular basis, an entrepreneurial life may not be for you.  Entrepreneurs instead need to be other-centered in their views, have a positive outlook, exude confidence, should be able to take criticism, be pragmatic and be generally optimistic. Optimism is particularly important. Without optimism not only will the entrepreneur not believe in a brighter future but nor will any of the people working for him or her – an immediate recipe for disaster.

There are many characteristics that are important to becoming a successful entrepreneur, reduce it to just one or two, most of the research and literature on entrepreneurship seem to suggest that two characteristics stand above almost all others, especially at the early or formative years of any new venture. These are being self-motivated and optimistic. 

Being Self-motivated:

Self-motivation is the ability to motivate yourself, to find a reason and the necessary strength to do something, without the need of being influenced to do so by another person. Put another way, this is working in a careful and consistent manner without giving up. It is therefore a dedication or tenacity to do whatever it takes to get things done and succeed.

If you want to excel in life and in an entrepreneurial business, self motivation is essential. You must know how to motivate yourself. You must be able to keep your spirit high no matter how discouraging a situation is. That’s the only way to get the power you need to overcome difficulties. Those who are discouraged in difficult times are certain to lose even before the battle is over. As the author Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.” 

Being Optimistic:

Optimism is the ability to see the positive side of things rather than the negative and believe in a good future. Optimistic thinkers are usually positive people because they approach life with the expectation that a happy/satisfactory outcome is both desirable and possible. True optimism doesn’t mean being unaware of problems or difficulties; it means actively looking for the positive factors in a situation.
So, why is optimism useful? Seeing the positive side of difficult circumstances gives optimists the courage and ability to carry on and try again. They can learn from their mistakes and are able to apply that knowledge at a later stage. Pessimists, on the other hand, tend either to avoid similar situations in the future, or to repeat the same fatalistic errors.

The Dictionary defines self-worth as a confidence and satisfaction in oneself. In other words, self-worth is the ability to see ourselves as competent, successful, and able to deal effectively with the demands of our lives. Self-worth develops continually throughout our lives as we interact and have experiences with other people. The way we were treated by members of our immediate family and by our peers growing up contributed to the creation of our general self-worth. Of course, major life events like the death of a loved one or divorce can also temporarily affect self-worth.

Before undertaking anything as potentially stressful as entrepreneurial life, it is important to think about how satisfied you are with your current level of self-worth. Most likely, you are satisfied with certain areas, but have other areas in which you would like to improve. It is important to know where you stand in the area of self-worth, because it will affect every area of your life. Healthy self-worth is going to mean something different to each person depending on his or her circumstances. Healthy self-worth might mean that you have learned to accept yourself, along with your strengths and weaknesses.

Once you have learned to accept yourself, you will be able to set goals that are appropriate. Reaching those goals will lead to increased self-worth. People with high self-worth have integrity, take responsibility for their actions, are proud of what they have accomplished, are able to handle criticism, and are not afraid to take risks.

The way we think and feel about ourselves can have a huge effect on the way we treat people and the choices we make. Whether you have high or low self-worth is usually reflected in what you believe about yourself. Believing negative things about yourself will lower your self-worth. In the same way that believing positive things about yourself with raise your self-worth.

The following broad approaches may be useful to consider when trying to enhance your self-worth:

  • Make sure to spend quality time with people who love and care about you.
  • Stay away from people who put you down or treat you poorly.
  • Regularly set goals (daily, weekly and even yearly) and work hard to achieve them.
  • Reward yourself for your accomplishments.
  • Don’t compromise your integrity or values.
  • Take responsibility for yourself, your choices and your actions.

You should also never be reluctant to ask for help from friends or family. Getting help is often an important step in enhancing your self-worth, but it can also be the most difficult.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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  1. ted stokesMarch 16, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    While I agree with what you have said there are othr factors to consider.
    Being self motivated and optimistic are necessary factors for an individual who is considering taking the path of an Entrepreneur there are also other factors to take into consideration.
    Some people carry these traits and it is revealed as a strong ego that has an uncomprimising drive.
    This or course can cause problems if the person cannot “manage” the drive and the fact they consider themselves always right.
    I think having the traits that you mentioned along with a strong set of “rules for company culture” are the real keys to success from a management stand point.
    From a company success standpoint there are amny other factors to success, as we all know.
    I speak to the culture side because of my experience in both turnarounds and start up companies.
    Working to turn a company that is failing is a change in corporate culture. Very difficult to accomplish and it takes very careful management.
    If the culture is flawed and or controlled by a strong founder ego the company will eventually have problems.
    The short comings of the decision making process will constrain the ability of the company to be flexible to react to changing economic stresses.
    I cover this and more in my book “What IF? The Entrepreneurial Answer”

    This along with other material critical to looking at being an entrepreneur is discussed in the book.

    • Dr. Jon WarnerMarch 26, 2013 at 7:24 pmAuthor

      Thanks Ted. A agree that cultural factors are citical. I will also take a look at your book.

About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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