Starting a new business can be a pretty lonely endeavor. For one thing, there's nobody around to spur you on -- or to give you a pat on the back when things go well. Back in 1981 Max Carey, CEO of Corporate Resource Development Inc., was frustrated by what seemed to him the slow progress of building his Atlanta-based sales- and marketing-services company. He had just one part-time employee, and "big successes were too far into the future," he says. "There wasn't much to motivate us."
His solution? "We decided to celebrate the small interim successes."
Carey went out and bought a siren, complete with megaphone and ambulance sound effects. After making a phone sales pitch, he would blow the horn if he had been able to bypass a training director and had reached a CEO. If a big check came in the mail, off went the siren. Now, the $1-million-plus company has 11 employees -- and the siren goes off about 10 times a week. People come out of their offices to hear co-workers brag about their latest achievements, which helps companywide communications as well. "And it's a great motivator for our less experienced employees," Carey says, "who aren't yet able to produce at top levels."