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Beginner's handbook

Printful Resolution Series: How to stay motivated as an online store owner

By Reading Time: 6 minutes

As an entrepreneur it’s typical to lose steam after the excitement of starting a new project. People are often found to dwindle in their enthusiasm, and then the project eventually fizzles out. This is so common in human motivation – even look at new year’s resolutions – 25% of new year’s resolutions don’t even make it past the first week, let alone become lasting habits.

Needless to say, you won’t make your dream of online entrepreneurship come true if you stop working at it after a week goes by.

Here are the two principles to live by to make sure you never veer off track:

  • Crafting consistency
  • Mental contrasting

We’ve outlined methods to implement these two principles, and with them, your motivation will never become the breaking factor of your entrepreneurial fantasies.

When you do something for fun, you’re more likely follow through due to the increase in dopamine levels in your brain. For that reason people are able to follow habits like going to play sports for health, rather than keeping up with going to the gym. Make sure you find fun in what you’re doing. However not all tasks around entrepreneurship are fun. And if you rely solely on the fun method, you’re bound to run out of that elusive motivation. You need other methods to keep going when things get serious.

Use these principles to avoid the motivation slump altogether.

Principle: Crafting Consistency

Crafting consistency is the method of creating habits of consistently fulfilling certain tasks, because the biggest part of online stores is perseverance. Motivation is an exhaustible resource, here are some ways to combat the natural occurrence of losing steam on your way to your goal.

Success is the sum of small actions that compile to make you great. Just by showing up everyday, putting in a bit of effort, by the end of the year you’ll have 365 elements of effort put into your store.

The essential lesson here is that putting in the work is key. You won’t start miraculously bringing in the traffic and dough as soon as you click the “publish” button on your store. The result of the store is entirely up to you and what you do afterwards.

Follow through – especially when passion fails

Don’t fall for the “do what you’re passionate about” advice. Of course, passion is helpful. But don’t think that your business isn’t successful because you’re missing passion. Your business isn’t successful because you’re not working at it.

Complete the task that you set out to do. The drops of water are what alter rivers and rocks, not one big event.

What will separate you from the rest of the aspiring entrepreneurs is your willingness to do the sometimes mind-numbingly boring or unpleasant tasks of trudging through the mud to get to the goal.

Method: SMART goals

SMART goals is a form of goal setting that is results-based. Not only will this mean that you end up seeing concrete results, thereby improving your feeling of momentum, but you’ll be actually making physical development towards your goals.

Set SMART goals:

smart goals2

Specific: Clearly defined goals get accomplished, vague hopes become forgotten.
Measurable: Give the task a quantitative measure, so that you can say with certainty whether or not the goal is achieved.
Attainable: Think big, but keep it attainable.
Relevant: Set goals that further you, your business and your purpose.
Time-bound: Set yourself a deadline for re-evaluation.

Here are a few smart goals we think would be great for ecommerce stores in their first month of existence:

Build your email list to 25 people in 30 days

Specific: We know exactly what we have to do. It isn’t a vague goal like “become profitable”.
Measurable: It’s a concrete number that we know we can check on.
Attainable: 25 is totally realistic. You probably have 25 friends who would be able to sign up.
Relevant: Email is crucial to the success of your business and likely will drive the majority of your sales, and profitability is the long-term goal here.
Time-bound: We gave you a month’s time.

Other ideas include:

  • Generate 3 sales in your first month
  • Obtain one backlink from a blogger in your industry by the end of next month
  • In the next hour, brainstorm 3 topics that you could blog about
  • Today, write a three-paragraph-long product description for your best-selling product outlining its best qualities

Work in sprints

Energy is a resource that rises and wanes throughout the day, week, month. You can’t over-exert yourself, otherwise you’ll be left over with not enough for the next day. In a study two years ago, I found that the ideal work-break ratio was 52 minutes of work followed by a 17 minute break. The idea being that when you sit down to your computer, you work meticulously at a dedicated task. But when that sprint is done, you leave your computer altogether for the 17 minutes.

Work according to a schedule

Don’t let motivation dictate when you work on your store. Your motivation will wane. Make a schedule and stick to it, regardless of your level of motivation. Set a schedule for yourself that you know you have to follow. The average of your consistent work is what will build up to become your results.

Principle: Mental Contrasting

Mental contrasting postulates that thinking through the obstacles on your way to success is the best way to motivate yourself. thinking about how your behavior impacts the reachability of your goal.

Many people advocate visualizing their success. Like imagining your perfect slam dunk before making it happen. However research done by Gabrielle Oettingen shows that people visualizing their dreams didn’t not lead to an increase in motivation to make it happen, but rather she found the opposite was true. Simply by visualizing their dreams, the objects of the study became complacent and less invigorated to reach their goals, as they had tricked their minds into believing they had already achieved it. believing you’ve already achieved it.

However, visualizing your goals as well as visualizing all of the likely obstacles along the way increases motivation of achieving success as well as improved results, ranging from test results to successful romantic encounters.


The underlying psychology being that once you’re aware of your possible future, you become better equipped to deal with the challenges ahead, and the encountered challenges will not affect your motivation, because they were anticipated for ahead of time. Not to mention by using the WOOP method described below, you’ll already know the steps you need to take to overcome those challenges.

Method: WOOP

Use the WOOP method to be able to effectively implement the principle of mental contrasting.

Wish: what you want to achieve – ex. your first order, 10 order/month, etc.
Outcome: imagining the best outcome, your Paypal account a little bit fuller, how wonderful you’ll feel, etc.
Obstacle: identify the barriers to running your successful store, write them down. make an action plan to get through every one of them. When you foresee barriers, they’ll be less likely to get you down.
Plan: draft an action plan for how you’re going to combat each one of those obstacles.

To help you out, we’ve put together some “likely barriers” that a burgeoning store might come across; low traffic to your store, low conversion, technical difficulties setting up, finding your target audience/market niche, and more.

Other ways to keep your head in the game

Implement Accountability

Tell people about your idea. Don’t just launch it and keep it to yourself. Tell your friends, family, acquaintances. When you say your goals out loud there’s a 42% higher chance they’ll materialize. By telling others, either verbally, posting about them on Facebook, or even starting a blog about your goals, they keep you accountable. The people you’re sharing with will ask you about how you’re doing, and you’ll intrinsically want to please them (we’re all humans), and that will be an added stimulus to finish what you started – to not let them down.

Get Enough Sleep

Equally important to get enough sleep – whatever that means for you. If you’re low on Z’s, you’ll be less able to combat bad habits – like putting off figuring out that new store theme, or sending out an email or posting on social media.

Make habits and plan for obstacles

From this we can draw the conclusion that the key to running a successful store even when your motivation has dipped, is by creating habits along the way and planning for obstacles. With these you’ll be able to function and grow your online store without draining your willpower, as well as set yourself up for the best possible go-getting mindset. So grab a pen and paper (or nowadays – open a google doc), and start implementing those methods!

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