The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you stay inspired to run a business?” is written by Aaron Harvey, founder of Ready Set Rocket.
Owning a small business is a very personal experience. If your heart and soul are in it, the business becomes a direct extension of yourself and the ways in which you view the world. Because of this, staying inspired is critical to success. You constantly have to reinvent yourself.
I find inspiration in three ways: by setting personal goals, building a thriving culture, and determining the business metrics that really matter.
Set aspirational (but achievable) goals
When you start your own business, there’s no rulebook or guidelines or target. You’re starting from scratch. You have to create it all. In result, business owners need to take a step back and determine their benchmarks for success on a personal level. Ask yourself, “How do I want to grow as a person?” “What soft and hard skills do I feel are most important to acquire?” Then determine how to leverage your business to bring those opportunities to life. And be prepared to do it constantly. It’s going to change—all of the time.
One of my recent goals was to find the balance between being too “hands on” and too “hands off.” It’s a fine line to walk. If you’re too deep in the weeds, the stress and anxiety of the daily grind prevent you from stepping back and owning the big picture. And if you’re too removed, your team lacks the leadership it needs to believe in the company vision. Either way, your culture can suffer as a result. In an effort to find that balance, I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. But now more than ever, I feel capable of achieving a healthy balance between commitment and stress, as well as vision and execution.
When things start to get stale, I know I’m not being challenged. It’s really about understanding what you want to get out of life and then seeing how it can be manifested through the business. And when you do that, your team will stand proudly alongside you and your vision.
See also: Why It’s Okay to Brag About Your Success
Invest in the people you hire
Yes, a better brand valuation, more revenue, the right investments, and an improved portfolio are all important. But at the end of the day, what keeps me even more inspired is actually investing in the people I work with and taking the time to understand their personal and professional goals.
When you can find a meaningful way to help your employees actualize their goals and align them with your business, you’ll stay forever inspired and great things will happen. And when great things happen, it’s crucial to actually stop and celebrate the wins. The one thing I’ve learned is that business moves fast. It’s easy to forget to make time do this.
I try to put myself in employees’ shoes to understand the experiences I want to provide for them. That becomes a motivator for me because you’re working toward something bigger together. And if you can create an inspirational work environment that cultivates this culture, you can see the growth through the eyes of the team. When you witness it, you realize it’s no longer just your business. It’s everyone’s.
Determine the metrics that matter
The metrics of a successful business aren’t always rooted in KPIs, PNLs, and ROIs. They’re not always awards or new business. What I’m even more interested in is emerging technology and evolving consumer trends.
I’m a naturally competitive person. If you launch or own a business, you’re probably a competitive person as well. So staying ahead of the curve fosters that competitive side.
What’s more is actually being able to offer a viewpoint on these emerging trends. We’re bombarded with information and insights every day, but it’s inspiring to see how these insights impact cultural change over time.
Beyond this, I apply that competitive filter on what to invest in or not to invest in, what to worry about or not to worry about, and what’s critical or not critical to the business’s future. And as soon as those decisions show signs of paying off, that’s when things really start to get exciting.
Aaron Harvey is the co-founding partner and executive creative director of Ready Set Rocket, a full service digital marketing agency that specializes in digital marketing strategy, search engine marketing, web design, and more. Harvey has previous experience at Purple, Rock, Scissors! and Hydra Studio, where he led in business development.