Maybe this year's profit distribution or bonus won't be all you'd hoped for. If you own a company that's still too young or capital-starved to pay you all you'd like, consider other ways to reward and motivate yourself as the year winds to a close. Nanette Dion, the owner of N. Dion & Co., a painting business in Naples, Fla., that specializes in wall finishes for luxury-home renovations, has done just that during her company's four years of operation. "No matter how busy we are or how big we grow--and we currently employ about 20 people--I make certain to give myself time off, occasionally, to pursue my other life as an artist," she says.
Dion is currently working on a series of paintings of country inns throughout the United States. Her bonus usually takes the form of a couple of extra vacation days, plus the cash to cover a round-trip airline ticket and a stay at one of the inns she plans to paint. The CEO is convinced that entrepreneurs need to pursue personal interests no matter how far afield they might be. "You work so hard when you start a business," Dion explains. "It really helps to remind yourself that you can find ways to invest in yourself as a person, even when you're not yet ready to invest in your family's financial future."