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Motivation ~ Creative Approaches

February 3, 2011

Last February I promised myself that I would implement a creative motivating approach to ensure this January would not suck. In an accountant’s world, no matter how planned and prepared you are, the multiple January 31st bureaucratic deadlines wreak a bit of havoc on your business. This year was going to be different!Serving clients is sometimes more motivating than money.

The first workday of January I handed 21 crisp $5 bills and 21 crisp $1 bills to my staff and had them hang three ‘clotheslines,’ $6 for each day

and one clothesline for each team member. The instructions for distributing the ‘prize money’ was as follows: I got the $6 any day I had to deal with January bureaucratic deadlines, and they got the money on days they handled it all. $5 went to rockstar team member #1, and $1 to the supporting team player.

Is $126 enough money to motivate your staff? Is it enough to motivate ourselves? No.

But the truth about motivation is that money is rarely the most effective method. (Unless you’re Goldman Sachs handing out high six-figure bonuses. That’s motivating.) For most micro businesses  that’s not an option. In a micro business, serving your clients and providing value is often the highest motivation.

How can we use money to motivate ourselves and our team? Here are some creative approaches we’ve used with clients:

Pay yourself first. This works for the business owner who always pays everyone and everything else first, and then doesn’t have enough left over to pay herself. She’s extremely motivated to pay her vendors, but not so much herself. We implement a bill-paying structure that puts her first, and by the end of the month, she’s jamming to bring in enough money to pay her vendors, because she won’t let them down.

Put yourself on a commission structure. This works for the business owner whose monthly income fluctuates between high and low. He has a good month, he takes all of the profit and suffers during his next low month. For a commission structure to work, you need to learn how to set your base ‘salary,’ which you can read here: The Power of a Salary Structure. Then create a motivating commission structure for yourself, document it, take no more, and take no less from your business.

Bonus your team based on your goals for the year. Small businesses rarely commission their employees, but if you want your team to be extremely clear about your goals, putting a commission structure in place for them, no matter what size, signals that you need their help in reaching your goals. It’s not just about the money, it’s about the motivation.

How do you implement creative motivation in your business?

  • Choose one thing that consistently nags at you about your business and look at solutions from a creative vantage point.
  • Choose a dollar amount you’re willing to invest in the problem.
  • Use a creative way to come up with your implementation plan (mind mapping, journaling, drawing with crayons are a few great approaches).
  • Then jump in and earn the results you want!
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