As you grow your small business you will realize that competition will always be present. But for many of us that may not be enough to motivate your company to reach its peak potential.
Part of being an innovative organization is having the ability to challenge and question the status quo from within the business. An easy way to revitalize your business — and ensure that no area is ignored — is to encourage the employees on your team to participate in internal competitions to see who can develop the best idea for improving your company.
Employee Pitch Competitions
One way to revitalize your business is to hold an employee pitch competition. Provide an open forum for everyone in the company to contribute ideas that could better your small business. Then ask them to detail the hows and the whys, and to explain the thoughts that led to their contributions.
For example, in our company, we decided to send a Google Docs survey to everyone, inviting them to pitch some of their ideas. We then sent a second survey to our area directors, who rated each idea from most important to least important, with the highest-ranking option being branded the winner. Everyone wants to know who generated which idea, and it has becomes a fun guessing game each month.
Most importantly, make sure to reward the winner with a small bonus, gift card, or anything else that raises the stakes. Feel free to get creative or increase the reward for ideas that are likely to have a real impact on your company’s bottom line.
Positive reinforcement increases the chances of future creative innovations — if someone has a great idea that is going to have a material impact on your company, he should be recognized for it. To that end, we’re actually considering a new reward program in which everyone calls the winner by his or her chosen nickname for a month — it sounds trivial, but it’s a fun prize in the eyes of many at our company. Bragging rights trump a gift card for a lot of people.
Targeting a specific part of your business that could be enhanced, like your direct marketing, CRM system, or company blog, can help people identify specific opportunities for improvement. Each month, you can shift the focus of the contest to a new area of your business that could benefit from the attention of the whole company. If you don’t, the prospect of identifying the most pressing need for the business might intimidate some of your team members and reduce their likelihood of participating.