Today we talk about rewards and why they’re so important in your small business.

Not even a year after my injury my partners and I had reached our goal. We were ecstatic. It was a phenomenal achievement. I cannot convey the depth of my joy and satisfaction as I sat around the table on that cruise ship with my partners and our wives. My voice quivered with emotion as I stood, lifted my glass, and offered a toast, simply stating, “We did it. We made it.” My dream had become a reality.

In the end, dreaming about the cruise was every bit as enjoyable as actually living it. The satisfaction gained from completing the goal was just as fulfilling as the cruise in the Caribbean. However, what would have happened if I had blown off the cruise? After all, since I had enjoyed the dream, wasn’t that reward and motivation enough?

No. My subconscious would have revolted! Going back on a promised reward would have damaged my desire to dig deep and sacrifice in the future. Take this as a serious warning: you cannot go back on your rewards. Doing so is far more costly to you than the actual cost of the reward.

Even the smallest rewards motivate us to reach the top of big mountains. Standing at the bottom of Mount Everest looking heavenward overwhelms even the heartiest of climbers with the reality of the impossible. Smart mountaineers pick out a series of short-term goals and then reward themselves for reaching each and every single one. Perhaps the reward is a drink of water or 10 extra breaths before pressing upward. They chip away at the colossal goal bit by bit.

During one of our trips in the Himalayas, our trekking team had a difficult time getting used to the food. When we arrived in the village of Namche Bazaar, famished and needing something delicious, we found a little bakery called Everest Bakery that had the most amazing apple pie. We were willing to add an entire day’s hike just to be able to reward ourselves with one mouthwatering slice.

In the same hike, we had a first-timer cook, who just happened to be a vegetarian. Another big motivator to get to a higher camp was the knowledge we would be able to find canned Spam. After hiking for a few days with our vegetarian chef, this reward was particularly motivating. It’s important to realize that money is very seldom a powerful motivator. Small, meaningful, and tantalizing rewards elicit amazing efforts.

Just as on the mountain, you must reward yourself for achieving business milestones. Milestones can be small or big accomplishments. Match the reward to the effort required. If you don’t take time to reward yourself, your subconscious will start asking, “Why am I doing this, anyway?”

Porter’s Points – Reward Yourself

• Establish achievable but “stretch” goals for all your projects.
• Identify a reward for each goal.
• Make the rewards special and meaningful to you.
• Display a reminder of the goal in a prominent place.
• Make the reward a real reward: don’t reward yourself with a trip to an amusement park if you hate amusement parks.
• Once the goal is achieved don’t procrastinate giving the reward!
• Create both individual and team rewards: team rewards create a community of collaboration and mutual appreciation.

So take the time to enjoy your rewards! Don’t cheat yourself or your employees of the celebration that comes with accomplishing goals.