How To Motivate Your Small Team in 6 Steps

by / ⠀Entrepreneurship / February 10, 2014


Motivating yourself can be hard. Motivating others? This is even more difficult. As an entrepreneur, it’s critical that your small team is excited to come into work and help your company grow. How do you do this? Glad you asked!

Step 1: Meet Regularly

Oftentimes, corporate meetings at larger companies are too-frequent and provide little value. Some small businesses decide to break free of this corporate mind-set, to ensure that employees have the “freedom” to work on their own. I’ve found just the opposite to be true: a small team allows you to get everyone together to have the freedom to participate.

I also take the time to set up monthly one-on-one meetings. It may have been awkward at first, but now they know it’s a safe space to talk about anything: future projects, where they need help, how I can improve as a manager, etc.

It’s one of the most important things we do. These meetings allow others to feel valued, which is the first step to being professionally motivated.

Tip: Take notes. It shows that you care and allows you to review last month’s meeting at the beginning of each get together.

Step 2: Forget About You

Everyone has personal talents they’d love to use in their professional lives. However, many employees never get the chance. Why? No one ever asks. Creating a motivated team means finding out what is important to each member. Is it money? Work-life balance? A comfortable office environment?

Not everyone is motivated by the same thing(s). Finding out what makes each person “tick” is the key to unlocking their true potential, which is critical in helping your business do the same.

Tip: Get to know everyone on a personal level. You’ll quickly understand what motivates them.

Step 3: Share the Work

As an entrepreneur, there are a million things to be done and only 24 hours each day to do them. Even though we’re often overwhelmed with work, it can be difficult to let go of things. Well, stop.

You’ve got a team for a reason. Utilize them. They can’t be motivated by work that’s important to them unless you allow it. Once you determine their skills and interests, set them free. Be confident in their ability. You’ll be more productive because of it.

Tip: Come up with a list of 3-5 things that you do that others would be great at.

sharing is caring

Step 4: Share the Success

Once they’ve completed their project, give them the credit. As owner, we may not be on the receiving end of compliments very often. It’s easy to forget how good this feels. A team-wide email or shout-out during a company meeting can go a long way.

Remember, the goal is to build a team that wants to work hard. Letting people know they’re awesome is a great start.

Tip: Make sure you applaud them one-on-one as well. It’s more personal.

Step 5: Incentivize

Many companies are split on this when it comes to non-salespeople. My thought: why not? I present a “bonus” at the end of each positive sales month, as more of a thank you to the team than anything else. They know they’re not sales people, and it’s difficult to come up with a metric anyway.

Rewarding them with gift cards, a team lunch (without you), a day off, or making a donation via a charitable giving site are all ways to show they’re appreciated. I have learned motivation is often spurred on by the little things.

Tip: Be very up front about when and how you’re going to incentivize. Ask for suggestions.

Step 6: Be Positive!

It starts at the top. If you aren’t outwardly excited about your business, how can you expect a positive attitude from those in your office? Your company may not sell the sexiest product (say, ahem, custom table covers), or have the office in the best location. However, if people enjoy being around you, they are more likely to stay at your company (and stay motivated). Positivity is like pushing a snowball downhill. After the initial push, it grows.

A recent fortune said it best: “Is your attitude worth catching?”

Tip: If this doesn’t come naturally, make it a point to say one positive thing about each person at your company every day. Watch: it will spread.

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Ben Camerota is the President of MPV Visuals, suppliers of high-impact visuals and custom displays for trade shows, retail promotion and corporate events. Ben is passionate about delivering excellent customer service, building businesses, relationships and experiences.  Find him at and download their free eBook here.

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About The Author

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.

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