Most of you will start your business with plenty of passion and purpose, but all too often I see both disappearing after months of facing unanticipated setbacks and challenges.
Indeed, it is even more critical that you keep your key team members energized with a high level of passion and purpose, or burnout rears its ugly head, putting the future of your whole business in jeopardy.
The challenge is to create positive recharge events for you and your team on a regular basis, rather than waiting for that one big success indicator, like record profits or going public, to override all the negative crises along the way.
Here are some key initiatives from my own experience that can make even the toughest business journey seem worthwhile and fun:
1. Prioritize and highlight many small wins along the way.
A good way to start is to create bite-size milestones toward your end objective, including product development stages, customer threshold targets, and funding achievements. Schedule all-hands events to celebrate each and get everyone's batteries recharged.
These events can be as simple as a team pizza party for meeting development milestones, or an offsite adventure or concert to recognize progress and generate new team enthusiasm. Frequent small events are always better than one large formal bash.
2. Give your business a higher purpose than just profit.
Today, many customers look for businesses that create a social or environmental impact and flock to support them. They feel the same passion that you and your team need to be reminded of on a regular basis to keep up the necessary level of energy, positivity, and commitment.
For example, Blake Mycoskie, founder of shoe company Toms, which donates a pair one-for-one, keeps himself and his team recharged by sending employees to travel internationally and work directly in the field where the shoes are donated.
3. Focus everyone on the bigger paybacks than a paycheck.
There is increasing evidence that employee happiness and job satisfaction, including yours, does not scale up with your success. Make sure that all of your business efforts create and capitalize on positive people relationships, personal growth, and matching people needs to results.
In addition, according to recent reports, the size of employee paychecks ranks behind advancement opportunities and work-life balance as the key reasons people are burned out with their job.
4. Maintain a balance between work and other life activities.
Provide yourself and everyone some time to recharge, whether it be scheduled reward events or just some time off for vacations and time with family.
Remember that your well-being, and that of your team, should always come first on the road to making your business a success.
5. Incent change, learning, and innovation as business norms.
Nothing kills passion and purpose like a static environment. The business world is constantly changing around you, so you and your people need to do the same. Make sure your objectives and rewards motivate employees through innovation, and desired training and coaching.
6. Regularly reconnect and communicate your "why."
Every business was started to satisfy a need in the marketplace, and it pays to remind yourself and communicate to your team that purpose on a regular basis. Everyone is energized when they feel really needed, and that need can be easily lost in the day-to-day challenges of a business.
Your "why" is the emotional appeal of your business, and it can be as simple as Toms improving the lives of the less fortunate or Airbnb's effort to make every stay a unique and enjoyable experience. Don't let you or your team forget it for a moment.
7. Give up expecting perfectionism in yourself and others.
Stop penalizing yourself and others on the team for every less-than-perfect move, and relish the learning that normally comes from mistakes. Make it a habit to take pleasure from doing your best and helping others learn, rather than agonizing over business outcomes that are never good enough.
I'm convinced that most entrepreneurs and most teams are operating well below their fully charged capacity most of the time. Feedback from employees indicates that only about one in five feels fully engaged and productive.
Just think what your company could do if you and everyone worked at the level of passion and purpose you felt when you started the business.