Being an entrepreneur is a rollercoaster of emotions with all the ups and downs that come naturally and far too easily when running a business.
Not everyone is ready or made for this kind of life, starting from the top – the founders themselves. At any moment, you need to be able to understand a few simple, yet highly valuable truths about life and business which you’ll then live by.
The power of small wins is one such truth I learned during my entrepreneurial journey.
Here’s the deal:
confidence in one’s abilities doesn’t automatically translate to confidence in that person.
You want to feel comfortable, whether it’s to ask questions, get a clear idea of what’s going on, or something else in order to grow both yourself and your company.
Registering small wins, regardless of how tiny or stupid they seem to be, is a great hack of sorts to accomplish progress and by proxy, boost motivation.
This, in turn, creates mutual accountability that ultimately leads to loyalty.
And to create the most productive and fun work environment, I feel loyalty and trust are the cornerstones upon which you must build – even at the expense of talent.
Why small wins rule
Everyday events fuel our emotions and motivations, and trigger our perceptions. On a fundamental level, these are the same for each of us.
Of all the things that have that effect, one of the most important ones is making progress.
The more people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive long-term. It doesn’t matter if they are trying to solve a major mystery or simply produce something of high quality, everyday progress – even a small win – can make all the difference in how they feel and subsequently, perform.
Great entrepreneurs embody wins in all aspects of their work, not just in the areas that are visible the most or at first glance. I’m a big believer that every aspect of a business should convey your commitment to success.
So, the idea is to do really small, easy, and potentially lame steps to achieve equally small, easy, and potentially lame goals.
To kickstart that feeling of accomplishment.
An accomplishment feels like making a positive step forward not only for yourself but for your company, teammates, and especially employees.
Even ordinary, gradual progress can boost people’s engagement in the work and their happiness throughout the day.
So what makes a small win?
Anything that boosts inner work life and makes a step forward.
Take three days to organize the budget. It’s a waste of time, right? But you’re taking those small steps and adding a checkmark in the ‘win’ column.
Organize a meeting every two days, let’s say, where you’ll just talk about what you’re going to do. A week after, focus only on the mockups for your MVP, then do another round of meetings to discuss all the options.
Take X amount of time to focus solely on something that is not working correctly.
There is no shortage of ways in which you can break down the goals to even more banal things. I know they seem stupid but just remember this:
on an entirely different level, you’re building momentum for a team that will be loyal and accountable to one another.
In this case, less is more (or slow is fast, whichever way you want to look at it) because you’re building the company (or should I say system) the right way:
with reliable, loyal people and real values and principles.
As such, you create more long-term wealth for everyone involved.
I ask you – what’s the alternative?
Let’s look at the flip side for a second.
Small losses or setbacks can have a very negative effect on our inner self (and thus, work life) because negative events can have a more powerful impact than positive ones.
It’s just how our minds work. Soon, that negative impact can feel overwhelming. You can easily become disheartened at the lack of progress, which throws you off your A-game.
Then, it’s a huge problem. If you cut corners in one area, you find yourself on a slippery slope.
When you lead people, the most important thing is to provide an example of accountability.
Always remember that there are people who look up to you. If you don’t lead by being accountable and reliable, it’s a downward spiral from there.
Negativity is like a big virus – it catches on.
So, it is critical for a leader to reduce daily hassles – and small successes are an amazing tool for the job. Even if you’re actually doing less meaningful work and solving minute problems, supporting progress is how you reach and solve the complicated ones afterward.
A quick word about money
We all know that money is the most straightforward way to raise the bar on employee productivity, motivation, and spirit.
It’s the nature of the business for people to go to greener pastures when more $$ are in play.
But in my mind, employees tend to rely on such things. They expect them and in the process, cheapen their impact.
It’s my experience that, apart from being properly compensated, people want to be appreciated for what they do. It’s not always about money.
If your employees are always asking for raises, chances are you’re not doing your job well. The more you manage effectively and inspire teamwork, the less you’ll have to deal with those requests. If people are generally happy with everything, then making more money will be more of an afterthought.
They’ll work because they want to, not because they’re after a better bank balance.
In professions with more challenge and room for creativity – an area where running a business resides – simply getting shit done doesn’t guarantee a good inner work life.
But it does make a way for recognition that the work being done is contributing in one way or another. Work with less profound importance and impact matters as it contributes to value, either to the company, founder, or employee(s).
Small wins infuse the job with meaning. Meaning breeds commitment, which is sometimes the most you can ask for – and provide in return.