Motivating ourselves at the start of a new year isn't a challenge. We're all used to refreshing our annual goals and aspirations when we have a clean slate in front of us. But what about later in the year, after the new has worn off the new year?
When you're not only running the business but also taking care of customers, suppliers, and staff, how do you generate enough energy and enthusiasm to keep all of the balls in the air? What can we learn from them about how sustain our motivation with so much going on and finish the year strong?
I had a chance to interview seven busy, multi-hatted entrepreneurs on just that- what motivates them, and how they sustain that energy throughout the year? In addition to setting the strategic direction for their individual thriving businesses, these seven start-up CEOs know the challenges that come with "doing it all." They develop, market and sell. They hire, fire, and inspire. They even keep the books, stock the shelves, and process paperwork if that's what needs to get done. Here's what they had to say about staying motivated and motivating others under intense demands.
Michael Barnett, Co-Founder and CEO of Romp n' Roll
"I am motivated by several things, one of the biggest being our members -- aka the kids who attend classes at Romp n' Roll. We are usually a child's first teacher besides Mom and Dad, and I'm motivated to make that experience the best it can be. This drives all of my other motivators, such as my team at our headquarters who motivate me every day with their drive and enthusiasm, as well as our franchisees who motivate me with their passion and hard work. The people I surround myself [with] on a daily basis are my year-round motivators and they drive me to accomplish every goal we set.
To continue to motivate our team after an especially busy period of time, our company does everything from small tokens, such as hand written notes and gift cards, to happy hours and dinners to show our appreciation for the work they put in for us. And, of course, we provide our team members and employees with the ability to step away and recharge if need be, which is crucial to leading a productive and inspired team."
Rita Goldberg, CEO and founder of British Swim School
"I am passionate about my company, as I have the good fortune to be a part of a business that is truly lifesaving. That passion rarely wanes and it encourages me to always be looking to find the next connection or approach to share our important message with today's Millennial consumers, who have a much different approach to their life than the consumers I knew when we first began our business in the 80's. Additionally, I'm motivated by our dedicated franchisees who are always eager to aim higher and better their communities. Their hard work and love for the brand is a key component in our success."
Heather Harris, president of CycleBar
"I am motivated by people, profit, and passion. My motivation never changes, but my ability to affect them changes throughout the fiscal year. I believe you should let the numbers tell the story, because they will lead you to the truth. Once you see that, decisions and priorities become much easier [to] execute."
Bryon Stephens, president and COO of Marco's Pizza
"Our corporate office has a cultural belief of celebrating successes. These celebrations - big or small - help us fight the biggest enemy to becoming great; complacency and overcoming inertia. A body in motion tends to stay in motion - and at Marco's the pace is quick - we are constantly in motion. It takes more energy to win a championship the second time than the first, because one has a natural instinct to relax and slow down after a big win or an especially busy time of the year. Instead, we encourage everyone to plow through, be diligent and continue to work towards the next goal. It's not as much about me motivating my team as it is about my team being encouraged and inspired by each other's achievements and drive to continue reaching new heights of success."
"While some trends in the business may shift during the course of the year, staying focused on the customer (our franchise owners) and helping them in and with their businesses doesn't change, regardless of our fiscal year. What motivates us most is seeing people grow their businesses and realize their dreams, not only financially, but with the kind of life and lifestyle they want to lead.
The right team and the right managers are passionate about what they do and motivated by rallying to stop a negative trend or throwing more gas toward a positive trend that's "on fire." I interview everyone in our organization before we make them an offer, just to add another check point into the process and be sure that we're bringing on the right people for the right seats on the bus. We can teach specific skills, product knowledge and systems, but it's difficult if not impossible to teach passion for helping customers."
Tina Bacon-DeFrece, president of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More
"I love the idea of always improving our franchise system. In my opinion as a franchisor, everything you implement must impact the franchisees on a variety of levels: smoother operations, better net profit and increased revenue generation to name a few. If I know that there is a way that I can make our franchisees' life better, that's all the motivation I need to continue exploring solutions. Sometimes the number of opportunities that are presented can be overwhelming, especially for a young system like ours, but to keep plugging away is the key. Identifying new technologies and programs is a never ending endeavor considering how quickly things change today. And honestly, changing or updating is always painful, but the end result is worth it."
Larry Sidoti, Chief Development Officer for Paris Baguette
"Building brands from the inside out and making them great is what drives me every day. I aim to lead cultural change within the company by helping to develop talented people toward accomplishing objectives and expanding their professional skill set, which is just as inspiring as it is motivating. This is a 24/7 career style that does not change throughout the year, as pushing yourself and your team members to succeed is just as important in Q1 as it is in Q4.
I believe in motivation through empowerment. Team members will thrive when there is trust and recognition. Together, we work on the annual plan, critical path and roles and responsibilities. Once there is consensus and buy-in, the team is empowered to do their part in executing the plan, and we continue to drive that motivation by celebrating their wins and recognizing individual and team success."