Congratulations! Your business is really clipping along, you’re paying the bills, reaping the financial rewards and maybe even taking an occasional afternoon off to go to the golf course! But you’re noticing something else as well. Your team isn’t as passionate and people aren’t putting in the same effort and working those long hours. They don’t seem as enthusiastic, and what was once a mission, is now seemingly nothing more than a job for you and for them.
It’s a fact, managing an established company is not as exciting as the journey of creating the company, especially for those who are true entrepreneurs. You begin to realize that if you are going to continue to prosper and to grow your company, somehow you’ve got to reenergize the team and reintroduce that entrepreneurial spirit .
Here are a few pointers on just how to light that entrepreneurial fire again:
Value employee input
Remember when you had the great idea to start your business? You did everything possible to turn that vision into a reality. It was exciting, frustrating, nerve-wracking and rewarding all at the same time. You created innovative ways to solve problems, worked insane hours and wore many different hats. Your loyal staff members felt like their contributions made a difference and they were an important part of the organization. In short, that entrepreneurial spirit was soaring.
Valuing employee input, even after the initial idea blitz, is critical to a growing company. Successful businesses have one significant thing in common. They keep this energy alive. It is the unique driving force that motivates employees, inspires a long-lasting entrepreneurial work ethic and lifts new companies above all adversaries. In today’s fast-changing business environment, you and your team members need to be looking for the next big idea. If you don’t recognize it, your competition will.
For example, Compsat Technologies, Inc., a profitable business specializing in data storage, server and backup solutions, has a reputation for being an exciting place to work. It’s not because they won various awards, reached first year sales of $1.3 million or have an annual revenue growth rate averaging over 32%. It’s because the CEO, Dan Glisky, continues to create an innovative environment where employees are constantly challenged to find creative solutions to customer problems. “A technology company doing the same thing year after year is not going to cut it,” he states. “It is essential to look for new innovations and create a dynamic, creative culture where there is an incubation of ideas. One should listen to the market, and give employees an opportunity to go with it and grow with it.”
Employees want to feel valued, suggest ideas without fear of retribution and know they have a future working on new and exciting projects with a growing company. To keep the entrepreneurial spirit alive, reward risk-takers. It’s up to you to compensate innovation and generate enthusiasm. But don’t worry; it doesn’t need to be expensive. In fact, stock options are taking a backseat to variable compensation packages tied directly to individual and company performance. Simple bonus programs, profit sharing, special events, trips, and other awards go a long way to build a creative culture that encourages risk-taking and employee involvement.
Look at the organizational structure
Maybe your company’s entrepreneurial spirit was crushed by a new organizational structure. How has your infrastructure changed since you started your business? Can you make decisions quickly or are there “too many cooks in the kitchen” slowing down the process? To maintain a high-performance environment that exudes entrepreneurial spirit, review your company’s organizational structure. It’s essential to focus on the objectives that add value to your business. Take a serious look at who is actually doing the work and striving to reach company goals. Also note that it’s a two-way street. Employees should educate themselves and constantly build skills to be the best in their particular field. Although it can be difficult to let go of loyal employees, make a commitment to hire and keep the right people with the right skills, and cut those who can’t keep up. A lean and effective staff is an important part of making changes quickly, developing new ideas and maintaining a competitive edge. It’s not the worst thing in the world if staff members know that their key to job security is extraordinary performance.
Keep the customer connection
What about your connection with customers? Are you still listening to their complaints, suggestions and compliments on a regular basis or is there a thick layer between you and your top team members and the marketplace? As a business grows, it’s easy to concentrate on other issues and lose valuable customer relationships. Always remember that these are the people who make or break your business, and their input is essential to your success. Be sure to find out firsthand why they buy your products or services or go to the competition. You did this when you first started your business and the entrepreneurial spirit was driving you, so why stop now?
Don’t lose the exciting and successful culture you’ve worked so hard to create. Focus on core values, compensate contributing employees fairly, put key people in direct contact with customers, and develop a simple organizational structure to keep your company’s entrepreneurial spirit alive and well.