The Young Entrepreneur Council asked 12 successful young entrepreneurs for their best tips for keeping a start-up team, especially salespeople, cheerful and sane--even during a big end-of-year holiday sales push. Here are their best answers.
1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Preparation is key. We make sure we have everything ready and in place ahead of time, so A) we're ready, and B) our team can relax, knowing we're well-prepared. The holidays are no time to be stressed.
-- Nicolas Gremion, Foboko.com
2. Reward Faster Results
Instead of focusing on hours, focus on results. Make it very clear what needs to be accomplished and then give employees the flexibility to head out early once they accomplish it. This is a great way to direct all of their pent up excited holiday energy toward better results for you and your company. Plus they feel like you gave them a holiday gift with the early end to their work day or workweek. -- Elizabeth Saunders, Real Life E
3. Work (and Relax) Remotely
Historically, we've given a lot of time off during the holiday season. Our business is a 24/7/365 business since all of it happens online, but this means people can work remotely (from home) or log in at odd hours. The work gets done, we just provide greater flexibility and hire people we can trust to not abuse that flexibility. -- Michael Seiman, CPX Interactive
4. Get Personal
Ask them what's going on in their lives. Don't be afraid to open the lines of communication about personal matters. We all have loved ones, hobbies, and activities we spend time on outside of work. Sometimes they're a pleasure, and sometimes they add stress to our lives. Show that you care and encourage employees to do the same for one another. It goes a long way.
-- Anthony Krumeich, Bloodhound
5. Happy Hour!
Everybody likes an office happy hour. It gives people a chance to be in a more enjoyable environment, but still chat about things going on at work. It can also be a huge stress-reliever amidst all the other planned holiday activities.
-- John Hall, Digital Talent Agents
6. Expand the Team
7. Take a Long Thanksgiving Holiday
As an online retailer, the Monday after Thanksgiving through Christmas Day is going to be crazy! Everyone is going to grind in order to deliver outstanding service to customers. So we're "shutting down" the business over Thanksgiving, and then again after Christmas. December will be the culmination of our 2012 efforts--we will recharge before and afterward!
-- Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches
8. Flexible Hours and Package Delivery
We allow employees to set flexible hours for themselves as long as their work doesn't suffer. We also allow our employees to have packages delivered to the office, so that more shopping and holiday prep can be done online, while still maintaining the element of surprise with their families.
-- Robert J. Moore, RJMetrics
9. Plan Fun Holiday Events
I like to intersperse fun, holiday team events throughout December that are pretty low-key and low-cost. This helps my team members unwind and stay focused. And for those who want time off, be flexible. I'm OK with some staff members taking little breaks around the holidays.
-- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
10. Cover Their Basics
Even when you give your employees time to unwind, it's rarely ever used for that purpose, as so many basic things like doing laundry, cleaning, cooking food all come first in most households. A great way to allow your employees to truly unwind after work is to offer free services during peak times of the year that help employees cover the basics, allowing them to truly take the time they need. -- Derek Johnson, Tatango
11. Set Ambitious Goals--But Leave Schedules Open
We set ambitious sales and output production goals for each member of our team. Then they create their own schedule. It is always communicated that as long as productivity remains high, the rest of the time is yours to unwind.
-- Brian Moran, Get 10,000 Fans
12. Holiday Cheer
Tie success in terms of hitting goals or meeting targets to holiday-themed events, treats, and cheer. It gives rewarding work well done a well-themed twist and keeps things fresh when things get busy!
-- Derek Flanzraich, Greatist