How to Stay Motivated When Your Business Struggles: 5 Tips from Paul Saunders, Founder of James River Capital

James River Capital motivation

When we think about the lives of successful men and women, we often only consider their achievements. Rarely do we think about the doubts, failures, and challenges they overcame on their path to success.

Often, the difference between people who succeed in business and people who fail comes down to one major factor: persistence. Everyone experiences challenges and periods of difficulty in business; those who learn from these experiences, adjust, and keep going may eventually succeed. Those who give up at the first sign of struggle will not.

However, this is easier said than done. When your business struggles, it can be difficult to find the motivation to keep going. In this article, Paul Saunders, the founder and CEO of James River Capital Corp., will share his most helpful strategies on staying motivated when business gets tough.

5 Tips on Staying Motivated When Your Business Struggles

Paul Saunders has used these five strategies to stay motivated, and you can apply them in your own life and business too.

1. Remember your passion.

James River Capital PassionWhen the going gets tough, remember the passion that led you to start your business in the first place. Think about the successes you’ve experienced so far and the good your business has accomplished. Spend time remembering and visualizing your original goals, even the big or seemingly outlandish ones. Did you want to:


  • Give your children a better life?
  • Take your family on vacations and spend more time together?
  • Buy your parents a home?
  • Retire early and bond with your grandchildren?
  • Use your business to accomplish some good in your community?

Think about the dreams you had when you got started, and don’t give up on them. Remember that business being slow right now doesn’t mean that your dreams and goals are out of reach.

Paul Saunders explains that when you can bring passion back to your work, it reinvigorates the way you look at the situation you’re currently in. If you can harness that passion, you’ll be able to push yourself through the tough moments.

2. Break your goal into smaller milestones.

Although visualizing your dreams to buy your parents a home or take lavish family vacations is motivational, these goals can also seem too daunting and out of reach.

Break your big business and personal goals into smaller, more achievable steps. Work on one step at a time and celebrate as you reach each milestone. This gives you a sense of accomplishment, motivating you to keep working toward the next milestone.

When you lose your way, this strategy can help you continue developing your business. Even when it feels impossible to continue, you can focus on the next small milestone. You’ll understand what it takes to get there and how you’ll know when you’ve successfully reached it. One day, you’ll look up and see how far you’ve progressed toward your big goal.

3. Surround yourself with a support system.

James River Capital supportVery rarely does anyone achieve great success completely on their own. Build a support system of people whose strengths and weaknesses complement your own. If there’s an area of business that is difficult for you, ensure that this area is a strength for someone else on your team.

Additionally, build a team of people who are positive, ambitious, and highly motivated. As Paul Saunders points out, the company you keep can influence how you think, what you say, and how you act. If you’re surrounded by negative people who doubt your dreams and think you will fail, you will develop a negative outlook too.

And with a negative outlook, it’s nearly impossible to succeed. You will stop even trying to make your business a success. If you think your business will fail, it will.

On the other hand, positive people can help you maintain a positive outlook and focus on what you’re doing right. You’ll be able to focus on solutions rather than problems, and you’ll find the motivation you need to continue.

4. Have a personal mission statement.

Most businesses have mission statements, but you should also have your own personal mission statement. This is similar to remembering your passion, but a mission statement is a more streamlined version of what you are aiming to achieve.

Create a mission statement, put it in writing, and commit it to memory. When you’re struggling, this mission statement will keep you focused on what you value and what you hope to achieve. You won’t lose focus on what is important.

It’s a good idea to read or say your mission statement just before bed and when you first wake up in the morning. This can keep you motivated and focused on where you’re headed, rather than getting caught up in worries about where you are now.

5. Analyze your mistakes.

If you change the way you perceive mistakes, they can be great motivators. A mistake is not a sign of permanent failure, and it’s not a signal to stop trying. A mistake is simply a message that something is not working. It gives you the opportunity to collect valuable information that can help your business moving forward.

Ask yourself:

  • Why did this idea/effort/plan not work?
  • What variables can I change to do better in the future?
  • What did I learn from this experience?

By analyzing your mistakes, you can ensure that your business strategies and processes are continuously improving. Focusing on solutions to problems can give you more confidence, and you’ll also develop important business skills like problem-solving and leadership.

It’s important not to destroy your motivation by obsessing over mistakes. Consider the game of baseball. There are baseball players in the Hall of Fame with a batting average of .300, meaning seven out of ten times, they didn’t get a hit. Instead of saying to yourself, “I can’t do this,” or, “I’m a failure,” tell yourself to get back in the batter’s box and try to hit again. It’s your successes, not your misses, that matter.

Final Thoughts

When business gets tough, your persistence and motivation determine whether you will fail or succeed. Find the motivation you need to keep going by:

  • Remembering your passion
  • Breaking big goals into smaller milestones
  • Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people
  • Creating a personal mission statement
  • Analyzing your mistakes and perceiving them as valuable lessons

Like everyone else, Paul Saunders has experienced challenges and made mistakes in business. But instead of giving up or getting bogged down in negativity, he used these strategies to continue and find his way to success. Now, he has been the CEO of James Capital Corp. for over two decades, and business continues to thrive.

Apply these five strategies when business is difficult, and you’ll find the motivation to keep going until your achieve your goals.

About Paul Saunders

Paul Saunders is the founder, chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of James River Capital Corp. and affiliated companies. Saunders has always had a passion for finance and holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.

Saunders’ career started in investment banking, but he quickly transitioned to investment and trading, which he viewed as more merit-based. Saunders has worked at Warburg Paribas Becker with positions in the Corporate Finance Department, then at A.G. Becker in the Commodity Department.

He then became the Director of Managed Accounts and Commodity Funds at Kidder, Peabody, and Co. before serving as President of KP Futures Management Corp. Saunders eventually acquired the firm and changed the name to James River Capital Corp. He has held his current position since 1995.

In addition to his passion for finance, Saunders has a passion for philanthropy, which he shares with his wife of 39 years, Vicki. The couple regularly support charitable organizations and recently launched their own organization, the Saunders Family Foundation.

About James River Capital

Founded in 1986, James River Capital Corp. was originally the alternative investment department of Kidder, Peabody, & Co. In 1995, Paul Saunders and Kevin Brandt acquired the firm from Kidder, transforming James River into an independent investment firm.

James River Capital is based in Richmond, Virginia and invests in strategies including corporate credit, equity strategies, global macroeconomic strategies, fixed income arbitrage, multi-strategy investing, managed futures trading, asset-backed securities, and more.


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