7 things no one tells you about starting a business 

Entrepreneurship has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. It is going through a phase of the romantic renaissance of sorts – everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon and live the American dream.

No doubt, starting a business has never been easier. But it’s a journey riddled with fear and anxiety and comes with its highs and lows.

According to this popular statistic, a little over 50% of small businesses fail in the first four years. This is why you’ll hear people saying that if you spend more than five years in business, you’ve successfully beaten the odds.

What you don’t hear is what happens during those five years that lead to success [or lack of it].

According to Shark Tank investor Lori Greiner, ‘Entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week’.

But despite the hardship and hustle, entrepreneurs are also the people who create great things, change the world and grow the economy. If you’re about to start this journey, here are seven things you must know about starting your own business.

It could take a decade to succeed

Unlike what many people wrongly believe, entrepreneurship is not a shortcut to success. It never ceases to amaze me how hard people try to find instant success in business. Well, it doesn’t work that way. It takes a real business product or service, created by real people, that solves a genuine problem for success to arrive.

And you’re in it for the long haul. In business, slow growth is the norm, not the exception. It takes time to figure out what customers want. How to market your brand effectively. How to hire and train staff for maximum impact and results. What your brand positioning should be.

Once all of these elements are fine-tuned, that’s when you’re able to reach the coveted accelerated phase of growth. You can’t expect to get everything right the first time. Since we often see stories of those rare fast-growth companies, we have come to expect this to be the new normal in business.

It is also important to remember that ‘failing forward’ is the process by which companies usually grow. It all starts with a ton of mistakes, followed by learning, and then a little progress. Here’s the paradox: You have to work intensely – and quickly, all the while remembering that success takes time.

“But the idea of creating something out of nothing, something millions of people could use to find love, was worth facing failure for. So we learned to fail more quickly, pushing through bad ideas to arrive at great ideas. That’s ultimately what propelled us forward (and continues to do so): learning and failing quickly, and never making the same mistake twice.” – Aaron Schildkrout, Cofounder, and Co-CEO of Howaboutwe.com.

Work hard, but don’t forget to take care of yourself

Just because you’re working hard doesn’t mean you’re working smart. And these two are entirely different things. We are living in a culture where working 17-hour shifts and pulling all-nighters are badges of honor.

But the key to running a successful business is to understand that work is unending. Your attention and energy are limited. Therefore it is best to focus on the most value-adding, game-changing activities in your day.

Many people think exhaustion equals hustle. It’s not. When you’re grinding away just for the sake of grinding away, you’ll have little to show for your efforts except for getting burned out.

Huffington Post founder, Arianna Huffington, credits her business’s success to finding work-life balance. According to her, “The success at The Huffington Post happened when I started taking care of myself.”

 

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She was working round the clock, hustling 18-hour days when she collapsed one day while checking her emails and making phone calls. At the time, her venture was just two years old. That’s when she decided to turn things around and has since become one of the biggest proponents of sleeping 8 hours every day.

So work hard, and smart. And don’t forget to take care of yourself while you’re at it.

Goals and deadlines are important, but sometimes you have to trust the path

Most business owners credit their success to their ability to not take no for an answer, break down doors, kick ass and basically go out there and do it. But sometimes, despite all your good intentions and efforts, results don’t materialize, at least not immediately.

It is in times like these that we have to let go and trust God, the universe or the path and know that things will find their way.

Good Morning America Anchor and bestselling author Dan Harris tells a great story about David Axelrod when he was running Obama’s re-election campaign. At the time, many global factors were out of the administration’s control such as al-Qaeda, problems with Israel and Iran, the European debt crisis, etc.

When Axelrod was grilled about these seemingly unending challenges, he responded; ‘All we can do is everything we can do.’ Remember this when you start your business. Give it all you’ve got and then hope for the best.

There’s a sense of isolation

Not many people talk about this aspect of starting a business – whether it is out of embarrassment or because it doesn’t fit in well with the perceived notion or personality of an entrepreneur. But when you start a business, the sense of isolation is very real.

We are all used to having reference groups throughout our lives. In college we have friends and classmates, then at work we have colleagues, and as the owner of an established business, you have people around you at all times.

But in the initial days of a business, you’re truly on your own. You may have a partner or co-founder if you’re lucky, but the hustle is hard and long, and you mostly have yourself to rely on. When the going gets tough, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals or why you chose this path in the first place.

These tips from Marie Forleo will make it easier to cope with this sense of isolation;

The lows and highs are intense

Running a startup is truly like riding a roller coaster that doesn’t stop. I’ve had some of the highest highs and the happiest moments I could remember while running my business. But it also comes with some of the lowest lows, and I’ve endured many sleepless nights. Rarely are there any feelings in between, but I think it’s important to celebrate even the smallest of victories”. Ross Cohen, Cofounder Been Verified.

And it’s not just Ross. Almost every business owner can attest to this fact. As a founder, you’ll feel the highs and lows of your business far more than you would if you were an employee. Every milestone, no matter how small, will be more pronounced. Every defeat, no matter how minuscule, will hurt so much more deeply.

My advice? Enjoy the wins deeply and draw a line between you as a person and you as a business to maintain your sanity for the wins and losses that are yet to come.

Learning from other entrepreneurs is invaluable

No matter how many books you’ve read, when you actually get down to it, there’s no substitute for learning firsthand from people who’ve done it before you.

Just 10 minutes of insights from the guy down the street who started a pizza business could save you weeks of headaches of figuring everything out by yourself.

When you’re starting a business, there is no set path to success. You could be starting a company with zero experience in an existing niche or starting one with years of experience under your belt in a new niche. Every venture seems daunting in its early stages.

You could even be in the same boat as Eric Bandholz who started BeardBrand – a company that provides beard grooming products for men. He found himself creating a product no one had created before.

 

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But while your product or service idea may be unusual, if you look closely you’ll find lessons from other entrepreneurs who’ve been there.

Although every business is different and comes with a completely different set of challenges, the experience of others will help set you up for success and point you in the right direction.

You will grow more than you can think

As an entrepreneur, you will often find yourself applying out-of-the-box solutions to problems. And you’ll have many of those along the way.

You will have to learn everything there is about running a business and growing it from the ground up. Whether it is product development, marketing, sales, client consulting or accounting – you’ll be managing a lot of different roles.

Over the course of a few short years, you would realize that your career has leapfrogged and you’ve learned and grown more than you thought possible. Had you taken the conventional path, learning all of the same stuff would have taken a lot longer, possibly decades.

Starting a business is a roller coaster ride of emotions. It’s exciting, humbling, exhausting, enlightening, lonely, rewarding, frustrating, and awesome – all at the same time. What were some of the biggest challenges you faced as a business owner, and how did you overcome them?


This one thing can change your life

If I told you that learning this little secret could transform your life – would you believe me?

Go on, try it and see for yourself.

We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded with information. Anywhere you go, anything you look at and every noise you hear is asking for your attention.

So how do you block out distractions to focus on things that really matter? It is not always easy. That’s because our devices ping every second, emails arrive demanding our immediate attention, social media notifications continuously break our concentration, not to mention the calls, text messages and meetings that steal our attention and focus.

But people who are really shifting the needle, doing meaningful work in their fields, innovating and pushing the bar higher are those who’ve learned to master their focus. That’s because they understand that focus is a finite resource. We are talking about the Picassos of their fields; scientists, innovators, entrepreneurs, writers, and artists who are making the world a better place.

Bestselling author and leadership expert Robin Sharma says:

‘We live in a world where focus is more important than even your intelligence’.

90/90/1 rule

According to this rule by Sharma, for the next 90 days, the first 90 minutes of your workday should be focused on your single most valuable project.

So you could be writing code that could revolutionize the marketplace. You could be creating an unparalleled product or providing a service that no peer is currently offering. You may be writing a book, starting a blog, learning photography, or switching careers – whatever your game-changing move is – this rule works if you work it.

In fact, applying this rule with consistency will give you an unbeatable competitive advantage. And you’ll essentially be working as the 5% of the world’s top performers.

The problem is, in today’s world there’s so much distraction available that if you’re not acutely careful, it can dominate your days. I’ve used the 90/90/1 rule, and it has transformed my business. I found my client base growing, my health improving and my happiness levels soaring.

Unfortunately, most people play at the level of victimhood and make excuses for the ordinary results in their lives. But all they have to do is make one simple change. Instead of spending your best hours watching cat videos, surfing the internet, tinkering with notifications, or chatting with friends, do your best work in the first 90 minutes of your day.

When Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, two of the wealthiest and most influential people in the world, were asked about the one factor they attribute their success to, they both had the same answer; ‘Focus’.

 

Like with anything else, practice this new discipline enough, and it will become your new normal. On average, it takes over two months – 66 days to be exact – for a new behavior to become automatic.

And how long it takes a habit to form can vary depending on the person, behavior, and circumstances. According to this study, it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit.

When you’re focusing on important work, turn off your devices, tell your team or loved ones that you’re busy for the next 90 minutes. Maybe put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on your door.

Block out times for important things

Sticking to a schedule and blocking time out for important things is more important than you think. If you don’t have a weekly schedule that you can stick with, you’ll have a hard time meeting deadlines and getting things done.

What’s more, you’ll find yourself in a perpetual state of stress. Not using your time wisely can cost you immensely, even with all the resources in the world.

Utilize your mornings, nights or weekends

Pick a time when other people aren’t working to focus on projects that require your maximum focus. Between 5 am to 9 am is my personal uninterrupted time to do some of my best work. I meditate, exercise and sit down to focus on writing articles and doing research.

Doing the same work in the middle of the day would take me at least twice as long because I’ll frequently be interrupted by phone calls, emails, clients needing urgent help, or the kids – since I also work from home on certain days.

Because these 4 hours in the morning are totally interruption-free, they are my most productive. But you may be different. Maybe you can get some of your best work done during the nights or on weekends. Whatever it is, find what works best for you, create a schedule and then stick to it.

Use a calendar and keep it where you can see it

When first starting my business, I noticed that I was constantly canceling dinners with family and friends because it always took me longer to complete projects. I also felt I wasn’t eating as healthy and wasn’t getting enough exercise because my schedule was disorganized and basically a mess.

Moreover, my stress levels were also rising. This one change helped me focus on all the important priorities in my life. Every Sunday, I used a calendar to write out a detailed schedule for the entire week. I would print it out and stick in front of my work desk from where I could see it every day for the next seven days.

With the help of the schedule, I would pre-block time for family gatherings throughout the week, meeting with friends, meditation sessions, exercise, making healthy meals and working on some of my best projects. After a few weeks of doing this, I realized that I had more free time, I was getting more done, and I was available for friends and family too.

Spend some alone time to step into the alpha state

Spending time alone has some excellent benefits in terms of productivity and creativity. These are the two key assets you need to thrive in today’s world. Contrary to popular belief, a little solitude and quiet time isn’t a waste of time. In fact, it makes you a lot more productive, according to this study.

Ever wonder why authors and artists prefer to spend time in a cabin in the woods or a private studio with a nice view to work? Because nature and alone time spark creativity.

Some alone time also gives you the opportunity to look at life from a different perspective. It gives you a chance to analyze what’s working and what isn’t. In fact, your brain steps out of the beta mode and into the alpha mode when given some alone time.

It is the state where you’ll create some of your best, most groundbreaking work. You’ll be surprised to note that research confirms that trying to come up with creative ideas with other people actually comes in the way of the creative thinking process.

Apart from giving a boost to your professional life, some alone time will help you become more emphatic and build mental resilience that will go a long way in terms of both your personal and professional lives.

Don’t panic when things don’t go as per plan

There will be times when things don’t go as per schedule. Meetings may run late, conference calls and projects may take longer. Sometimes, we just may need some downtime, and that’s normal. Delays are part of life, and instead of getting worried or anxious you’ll just have to find intelligent ways to deal with them.

Not to mention, that when you have set up a structure and things arise at the last minute, it’s a lot easier to deal with them.

There will be times in your life when you feel you’re not where you want to be in your career, or for that matter, in your life. But never think that change is impossible.

Don’t allow your future to be limited by your current circumstances. Start small, be consistent and you’ll notice that you’ve come a long way in a short time.

Stop worrying about what could go wrong and start getting excited about what could go right. There’s an old joke where a man says, “I really want to go to medical school, but it takes at least seven years–and I’ll be 50 in seven years!” His wise friend replies, “And how old will you be in 7 years if you don’t go?”


Want to be a star performer? 5 signs you need to sleep more

More than a third of American adults aren’t getting the recommended 7 hours of sleep every night. For years now doctors have been trying to help us understand the consequences of sleep deprivation on the human body.

According to Joseph Ojile, M.D. medical director at the Clayton Sleep Institute, when you go from a few restless nights to more chronic sleep deprivation, you don’t realize how tired you are. Sleeplessness and fatigue impair judgment and self-awareness.

Moreover, a lack of sleep manifests itself in other ways too. Your eating habits may become uncontrollable; you may be gaining or losing weight much faster, you may feel oversentimental and find yourself focusing on the negative more often. With consistent sleeplessness, you will also experience decreased libido and an increase in cortisol levels.

In other words, chronic sleeplessness can wreak havoc on the quality of your life. I remember a few years ago when I had just started my career and was working for a PR agency in Dubai. I was constantly overworked, sleepless and stressed. I didn’t have time for family or friends and wasn’t particularly happy about my work either. It kept going, and I soon noticed some swelling on my left thyroid gland.

Fast forward a few days; I got it checked. There were no problems in the bloodstream, but the gland kept swelling and swelling to the point that it turned into the size of a tennis ball. So here’s what I did;

I quit that no-good job that was causing me so much trouble, traveled all the way to Europe on vacation, started meditating regularly and said goodbye to stress and sleeplessness forever.

Viola! The ‘thing’ reduced in size and eventually vanished.

Here’s what chronic sleep deprivation, coupled with stress, can do to you;

You get much less done

Many people think spending less time on sleep gives them more hours to get work done. They think sleep is just a waste of time and ‘interrupts’ their productivity. But instead of becoming more productive, sleep-deprived adults get much less done.  Here’s a schedule I followed for 3 years before I realized I wasn’t going anywhere with it. Not to mention, my body was giving up on me.

6:00 am – Wake up

6:15 am – Exercise

7:00 am – Get ready for work

8:00 am – reach the office & grab breakfast

8:30 am – Start checking emails

9:30 am – Get in touch with writers to check for pending work

10:30 am – Start editing copies

12:30 pm – Take a few client calls

1:30 pm – Check emails again

2:30 pm – Send out a press release to media

2:45 pm – Start calling media outlets for review

3:30 pm – Lunch

4:00 pm – Check more emails

5:00pm – Talk to clients/ journalists

6:00 pm – Get in touch with writers again

6:40 pm – Edit copies again

7:00 pm – Leave for home

8:00 pm – Reach home

8:30 pm – dinner and relaxation

9:30 pm – checking emails again

11:30 pm – check on pending work

On an average day, I would crash before midnight only to repeat the whole cycle again the next day.

Here’s how much sleep people in these countries are getting;

Being exhausted doesn’t mean you’re hustling

Most people assume that sleeping less would automatically equal getting more done. By doing this, they expect to see the results of their labor faster.

30% of the employees sleep for less than 6 hours a night. When your brain can’t function at its optimum, it means you’re taking far longer to finish projects.

So here’s what everyone is thinking; if I sleep less, I can make more time for the activities that are important to growing my business or further my career goals.

For a while it works, but the impact of sleeping less soon starts to show. As I started sleeping less and less, I realized I was performing worse at work. I was much less productive, and I was making mistakes, forgetting important things Not to mention, I felt so much more irritable and short-tempered.

I was also taking much longer to finish projects, reply to emails, finish calls, and find out-of-the-box solutions to problems. Everything was stressing me out, and that’s when my left thyroid started growing in size.

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You feel under the weather more frequently

Sleeping fewer hours than your body requires to rest gradually weakens the immune system. While you may be someone who never falls sick, you will notice that you get over one illness and get another.

The immune system is unable to fend for itself and fight off germs. According to one study, people who regularly slept less than 6 hours per night were 4 times as likely to catch the common cold.

Webmd.com confirms the link between lack of sleep and lowered immunity.

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If you’re not sleeping well, or not sleeping enough, you will also notice that your body feels sore and achy. Sleep allows your body to make growth hormones and undergo tissue repair.

Stimulants like coffee aren’t always enough to override the body’s need for restful sleep.

You find yourself in the middle of conflicts more often

Researchers believe that lack of sleep may reduce impulse control. You may be the most patient person you know, but sleeplessness can cause little things to rile you up.

Studies have shown that people who slept less read facial expressions incorrectly. They start seeing non-threatening people as threatening. It can have serious repercussions on your career and your relationships with your colleagues, managers, and clients may suffer.

In general, sleep deprivation can lead to workers becoming poor communicators. Sleep-deprived individuals drop the intensity of their voices, pause for long intervals without obvious reason, mumble instructions inaudibly, slur, run words together and repeat themselves.

You go over the material again and again

Sleep deprivation affects cognition and focus which is why you’ll find it hard to retain information. You may end up asking people to repeat themselves because you’re tuning out unintentionally due to fatigue. You may find yourself taking notes obsessively and relying on a plethora of tools like Google calendar and spell checks to keep you in line.

You may also find that what you’re reading takes a long time to sink in and you may even have to read the same paragraph multiple times to make sense of it. Overall, these habits translate into poor productivity levels and performance.

On the other hand, sleeping for just an hour more every day can have a huge positive impact on your productivity levels.

You let go of great opportunities

When you’re not getting enough rest, you are also most likely missing out on great opportunities at work. Being proactive and thinking out-of-the-box requires you to sometimes take additional responsibilities or look at your work differently.

But when you’re at your limit physically, the moment someone suggests taking on another responsibility or trying something new for your career, you retreat into your cave.

Mentally, you may know it’s an opportunity, but on a subconscious level, your system is too overloaded to stomach another responsibility.

The true power of sleep for productivity

Sleeping better and longer can change your whole outlook towards work. You may be wondering how to squeeze another 2 hours in your already packed day.

Well, my friends, it’s all about mental capacity. The more rested your brain is, the faster it can process. A well-rested mind and body can get a lot done during your work hours.

Take a look at the sleeping patterns of some of the top performing athletes in the world;

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Except for Tiger Woods, you’ll notice that everyone else sleeps a minimum of 8 hours per night. And looking at Woods’ performance lately, he better start hitting the snooze button more often.

I sleep for a little over 9 hours, and the extra sleep helps me manage my work so much better than before. Projects that took me an upward of 10 hours are now completed in 5 hours or less. Responding to emails, talking to clients, and brainstorming new content ideas has all become much faster thanks to a well-rested, sharp brain!

How to get enough sleep so you’re productive

It takes a long time to get into the habit of not sleeping. But sometimes it also takes a long time to get into the habit of sleeping again.

First things first, you’ll need to change your mindset about sleeping. Life is busy for everyone and work is not going anywhere.

A mindset shift will help you prioritize sleep. In my case, I started saying ‘no’ more often at work. This simple change allowed me more hours to rest. Truth be told, I enjoy sleeping. Sometimes that’s what I do on my off days; I just stay in bed and relax.

This infographic will help you ready yourself for sleep;

A lot of times we use mobile devices right before bedtime. Research indicates that blue light affects your sleep patterns.

Also, it helps going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.

Entrepreneurs who sleep more than 8 hours and are very successful

Members of the business world continue to brag about how many hours they’ve worked vs. the number of hours of sleep they’ve lost. While losing a few hours of sleep every day may make sense to entrepreneurs who want to get a headstart on their mountainous responsibilities, most people cannot really succeed without sleep.

In fact, sleep is right up there with nutrition and exercise and is very important for sound mental and physical health. It’s a myth that you can’t have a great business if you’re sleeping enough. Lately, Jeff Bezos and Arianna Huffington have been advocating for a healthy amount of sleep. Hopefully soon, the sleep-deprived entrepreneur will become a thing of the past.

  • Tim Cook, CEO of Apple: 7 hours per night (9:30 p.m. – 4:30 a.m.)
  • Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft: 7 hours per night (12 a.m. – 7 a.m.)
  • Ellen DeGeneres, TV Host: 8 hours per night (11 p.m. – 7 a.m.)
  • Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO of Amazon.com: 7 hours per night (10 p.m. – 5 a.m.)

While there are others who still prefer to sleep 3-4 hours a night, you need to find what works best for your body.

Conclusion

We are constantly lying to ourselves when we say we don’t need rest, we don’t need a break, and we can go without sleeping much. In the end, we are just pushing our bodies to the limit, hoping in vain to be productive.

The fact is, the more sleep-deprived you are, the slower you get work done. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital also found that accuracy and speed at a visual search computer task decreased significantly the longer participants were awake, Reuters reported.

Sleep isn’t optional. We’ve been conditioned to see the burning of the midnight oil and waking up before sunrise as traits of great leaders. But the truth is sleeping restfully is the most competitive thing you can do for yourself.


What makes a company a great place to work?

Few corporate awards are as highly sought-after as a prestigious ‘Best Place to Work’ title. And that’s because there are substantial benefits to it.

Research confirms that companies that consistently win such awards are also those that experience significant growth and success. A company that values employee engagement understands the mantra ‘happy employees equal happy customers’.

Simply Business chief executive Jason Stockwood said: “You can’t force people who hate their environment to do a good job. Customers only come first if our employees are happy and doing a good job.” – LinkedIn

Among the variety of Best Place to Work award programs, the most well-respected are held by the likes of Forbes, Inc., The Sunday Times, Business Insider and Glassdoor. The better you understand what elements make a great workplace, the better you’ll be able to make your company a great place to work.

In most cases, the upper management falls into the trap of thinking that bigger paychecks equal employee satisfaction. But employees seek more than just financial reward. In fact, they also list interesting work, recognition and ‘being in on things’ as the most valued aspects of their work.

Here’s what keeps employees motivated, inspired and producing extraordinary results;

Great pay

Let’s be honest. We all go to work to earn money. Multiple surveys have revealed that the number 1 thing employees look for in a job is a good salary. And why shouldn’t they? We all want to be paid our worth. Employers that can afford to pay should pay the best and the brightest to stay on their staff – whether it’s in the form of a salary increment or performance-based bonuses.

Recognition

Employees value recognition and appreciation for a job well done just as much as other benefits. Recognition is an important criterion of all major ‘best place to work’ awards programs.

According to Glassdoor, the average workplace scores just 39% in the area of employee recognition, compared to an average of 75% among the best places to work.

Redactive Media’s Great Workplaces 2016 publication drives the point home; the number one reason most people quit their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated.

On the other hand, organizations that had employee recognition programs in place had a 31% lower voluntary turnover than those with ineffective or no recognition programs.

Work-life balance

According to this survey, employees rated work-life balance as one of the most important factors when it comes to deciding whether to leave their current job and take a new one. Employees that are burned out rarely produce the results that companies thrive on.

There are only so many hours in a day. The more time an employer requires, the less time [and energy] an employee has available to pursue his interests and hobbies or spend time with family and friends.

At the very least employers should enable – or at least not prevent – employees from having full lives outside of the workplace. And it doesn’t cost much to do so. In most cases, offering telecommuting options and flex timings can do the trick.

A sense of purpose

A job you love also provides a sense of purpose and meaning. While millennials enjoy a good paycheck, 50% are happy to take a pay cut for work that matches their own values. Employees, mostly born after 1982, want to work for companies that are socially responsible and want to have an impact on society.

This includes contributing to the greater good, investing in social causes and being transparent.

According to Gallup, companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%. Here’s a detailed article that highlights the difference in performance of companies with engaged employees and those with an unengaged workforce.

Happier employees are 59% less likely to look for a new job in the next 12 months, unlike employees who aren’t satisfied with their jobs. This keeps you from having to replace employees you’ve spent your time and resources in – and we all know how expensive that is.

Here’s what some of the top companies are doing to keep their employees engaged and motivated;

Netflix

The company offers a year of paid maternity and paternity leave to new parents. Netflix also allows parents to return either part time or full time and take off days whenever needed throughout the year.

Airbnb

Listed the best place to work in 2016, Airbnb offers its employees an annual stipend of $2,000 to travel and stay anywhere in the world at an Airbnb listing.

Google

If a Google employee dies, the technology giant provides the surviving spouse or partner with 50% of the deceased’s salary for the next 10 years.

Starbucks

Starbucks provides its employees full reimbursement for tuition fees for an online bachelor’s degree from the State University of Arizona.

Bain & Company

The leadership consultancy giant organizes a two-day ‘Bain World Cup’ soccer tournament. It is open to all employees country-wide, and over 1000 employees from its 50 offices turn it into the event of the year.

Twitter

Apart from free meals thrice a day, Twitter also offers on-site acupuncture classes.

Companies like Southwest Airlines, Legal Monkeys, Asana, Screwfix, Dreamworks and many others offer interesting employee perks to increase engagement.

More and more companies are realizing the important connection between the happiness levels of their workforce and overall company output.

Creating a sense of purpose, belonging and happiness, along with support for employee aspirations both inside and outside the workplace are some of the ways to increase engagement.

Don’t think you have the budget to provide such perks? Don’t worry. Your company doesn’t need to have a big budget to increase the motivation level of your employees. Here are some simple tips to help you get started;

Listen

It may seem like a simple thing, but it can go a long way in keeping your employees happy. Provide multiple channels for employees to express their ideas, opinions, and concerns with the leadership. And make sure each comment gets a response.

Have an open door policy

Some companies have an unequivocal open door policy where senior executives sit in cubicles next to their teams to increase day-to-day interaction.

Create a cultural committee

This committee can be tasked with keeping the entire workforce aligned with your company values. From welcoming new employees to directing celebrations for achievements and milestones, these committee members are like your company’s cultural ambassadors who work to increase the spirit of camaraderie.

Small gestures matter

Small gestures go a long way in terms of building a relationship with employees. Several company CEOs have made it a tradition to send handwritten notes to employees on Christmas or Thanksgiving, expressing appreciation for their dedication and hard work. Some CEOs take new employees to lunch to get to know them better from the very start.

Reward and recognize accomplishments

Recognize and then appreciate employee accomplishments and milestones. You’ll find people going the extra mile more often when their efforts are noticed.

Flexibility

Employees who have a degree of flexibility in their schedule, in the way they work and how they execute tasks will always enjoy their work more. Employees who feel trusted are not just more productive and accountable; they are also more committed to their responsibilities.

Again, back to what I said earlier; happy employees equal happy customers, which means bigger profits. The only way to truly humanize your brand is by genuinely investing in your employees. Success stories of companies that are regularly voted the best places to work back this up;

  • Airbnb, Glassdoor’s 2016 Best Place to Work award holder, was valued at $31 billion in 2017 after just 9 years in business.
  • Softcat, another Glassdoor award winner, was able to increase its turnover from £50m to £600m in just a decade.
  • Facebook, Glassdoor’s current #1 best place to work, is valued at $479.4 billion.
  • Simply Business that won The Sunday Times list of the Best Companies to Work for award in 2015 and 2016 has been seeing steady revenue growth. Its revenue increased from £4.2m to £22.9m between 2006 to 2012.

These ideas aren’t just pretty simple to understand and apply; they are crucial in today’s world if you want to drive better financial returns, surpass the competition and become a ‘best place to work’ that attracts and retains top talent.

Now, we’d love to hear your stories! Share the policies you’ve put in place to ensure a very engaged workforce. Did you face certain challenges and roadblocks while implementing these policies? Let us know in the comments below.