Motivation comes in all shapes and sizes. Some people get out of bed with a spring in their step, whereas others need to be dragged up in the morning. When you found a startup, keep your team motivated is critical. You will be managing tough deadlines, working long hours, and pouring all of your resources into making your business take off and succeed. Knowing how to motivate and inspire is the key to this. But how do you accomplish that?

Take a look at our handy guide to motivating your team (and keeping them motivated).

Talk About Your Goals

Never underestimate the power of communication! A critical step in achieving your startup dreams is to actually talk about them with your team. Remind them about what you are all working towards, and more importantly, why you are doing it. Give your team a reason every single day to make progress, by reminding them about the vision.

If you talk about your goals with your team, you’ll find critical pieces of insight which will (and should) inform your opinion on a variety of operational issues.

Ask Your Team’s Opinion

No business is built on one person’s vision, but a collaboration of skills, ideas, and teamwork will achieve your goals. You may think that you know best, but as the, you will want your team to be smarter than you. If you’ve hired right, they will have the skills to give you informed opinions and assessments.

Why does this motivate them? They feel like they own a piece of the final product – that their opinion matters to you, and that itself makes them want to work harder.

Celebrate Small Victories

Psychologists have long since documented the power of positive reinforcement. It can be applied to almost any situation, and is a great tool for boosting morale. Often, when creating your MVP (minimum viable product), you will have small but crucial milestones. Celebrate them! You’re building a company culture at this point, which will pay off further down the line.

It could be something as simple as getting pizza for the team on a Friday evening (pepperoni and extra cheese if you’re wondering), or sending a heartfelt and handwritten thank you note.

Give Them Social Time

You’ve heard the saying ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’? Well, it’s true. Working your team into the ground isn’t good for productivity OR morale.

Whether it is a generous lunch break, letting them have non-work related conversations, having after-work drinks, or something else entirely, give your team the time they need to bond socially. When you have a small team, you won’t get very far if you don’t act as one. Knowing each other creates a flow which translates to better results. It doesn’t have to be anything as sterile as a teambuilding day, so get creative and start fostering that all-important rapport.

Pay Your Team Their Worth

I should preface this by saying ‘money isn’t everything’ – people aren’t motivated entirely by their pay packet after all. However, with that being said, if you don’t pay your staff what they are worth, you will get a team full of unmotivated individuals.

Feeling undervalued has an incredible effect on productivity and creativity in the workplace. It leads to higher staff turnover (the death of any good startup), greater dissatisfaction with you as a boss, and an overall resentment. Simply paying your team what they are worth will help to lift their spirits (and their wallets).

If You Can’t Pay Cash, Let Them Own It

Now, I also understand the mechanics of cashflow and capital. You may not have the money to pay top talent. In that case, you have one asset which is considerably more valuable – equity. It is increasingly common to pay your early staff in equity, and giving them a piece of the pie is a great motivational tool. Imagine you have the option to earn a fixed salary or a piece of a potentially very valuable company. (You might like our post Which Method of Startup Funding Is Right For Your Company?)

Results oriented people love rewards, and will drive themselves forward to earn that equity. You can, of course, put restrictions on this. Vesting periods, walkaway clauses, and a whole host of other tools are there to protect your business. Consult a good legal counsel, ask your fellow entrepreneurs, but above all, don’t be afraid to let your team share in your success.

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