Focus Your Startup Team Before Year’s End

Let’s face it — by the time November rolls around, members of even the best startup teams are starting to think about the holidays. Many are preparing for travel or seeing family; more than a few will be looking forward to some hard-earned days off.

But for founders, the same time of year signals something very different — an important time to regroup and strategize for the year ahead. And you need your team by your side to do so effectively.

business holidays

We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation-only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question to find out how to motivate and energize team members as 2013 fast approaches:

“With the end of year fast approaching, what are some tips to keep your team energized — and brainstorming — for the year ahead?”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. What Are You Waiting For?

“Most organizations make the mistake of doing planning for the next year in December. Well, by then, your team has already begun clocking out. They are thinking about holiday shopping, time off, food, and football. So early November is a GREAT time to get planning for 2013 — and if they know what is coming up, it might just help them stay focused on sales instead of pumpkin pie!” ~ Raoul Davis, Ascendant Group

2. Get (Away) Together

“End of the year is a great time for your team to get away together to spend some time working on the business instead of in it. Having your core team together in a non-office environment can encourage creativity while looking back and celebrating all the small wins you’ve accomplished this year. It is also a great time to re-sync on the company’s vision and goals while strategizing for next year.” ~ W. Michael Hsu, DeepSky

3. Look Back to Look Forward

“Create a summary of all the progress your company made since the beginning of the year to this point. Remind your team that the day-to-day developments can sometimes obscure the larger gains the company has made, and show them exactly how their hard work has paid off. Encourage them to take time to recharge and remember all the good work they did this year, and how that effort can be replicated.” ~ Zach Cutler, Cutler Group

4. Get Active

“We do bi-weekly fitness, health, and happiness activities with the team– but as we gear up to the end of the year, we plan to do them bigger and better, whether it’s a day-long hike or an epic kayak adventure.” ~ Derek Flanzraich, Greatist

5. Set Goals — and Rewards! — Together

“Goal-setting is always a fun year-end exercise. After we finish goal-setting, we dedicate time to brainstorming potential rewards for accomplishing goals – they should be team-oriented, something everyone will enjoy, and a blend of both attainable and slightly over-the-top to keep everyone reaching.” ~ Abby Ross, Blueye Creative

6. Maintain Open Lines of Communication

“I think it is important at any time of the year to keep open lines of communication and touch base to make sure the team is all pushing in the same direction and can understand what every person is struggling with. We’ve had some great insight when the team comes together and someone expresses a problem they’ve been facing…that includes sales, Web development and content.” ~ Patrick Curtis,

7. Share Profits

“Profit-sharing is a great boost. As an example using easy math, let’s say you expect to make $100 in 2013. Tell your team that 10 percent of any profits over $100 in 2013 will be divided among the team as bonuses.” ~ Nicolas Gremion,

8. Monthly Incentives

“It can be easy for people to lose focus in the last couple months of the year, especially around the holidays – so give them a reason to keep making stuff happen. This can be anything from a sales contest to a little bit of extra time off. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes. What would continue to make you excited to come in to work, even with all of the end of the year distractions?” ~ Sean Ogle, Location 180, LLC

9. Hand Out Innovation Vacations

“Give them a day off to take an innovation vacation. Tell them to relax and really think about where they are heading; provide them with a day where they think more strategically. ” ~ John Hall, Digital Talent Agents

10. Restate Your Mission and Vision

“It’s not enough for the founders to have a clear mission and vision for the future. Repetition within the company and to your prospects and customers is key. By continually reminding your team about how they are helping customers and where the company is going in the next 1-5 years, they’ll be more likely to bring fresh ideas to the table. ” ~ Phil Frost, Main Street ROI

11. It’s Time To Celebrate

“Focus on the celebrations from the past year, rather than dwell on the failures. If we can build momentum from success, we can stay positive and motivated to expand those success stories. Focus on the positive and avoid dwelling on any negative.” ~ Jordan Guernsey, Molding Box

Business Holidays Photo via Shutterstock

The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.