The Small Business Coach #6 Determining The Incentive

Introduction to the Series:

I have been thinking about you; your goals, ambitions, and challenges. I felt it was appropriate to provide several concepts related to expanding your business. I know that expansion is probably the furthest thing from your mind; it just seems to me that you have worked yourself into a corner. Expansion may be your way out of work and back into your life. I know this may seem paradoxical, but trust me.

At this point it's unfathomable for your business not to need you. You may even cringe at the thought of taking some time away from your organization; I'm sure the thoughts that follow are fairly disastrous. How would you ever stay afloat if you stopped working for a week, a month, and god forbid a year? What would your life be like if you could see life beyond your business?

One thing I have learned in my years of running multiple businesses is that we really have to find a way to let go of the concepts that may be holding us back, and at the very least challenge our assumptions.

Instead of your business needing you perhaps this is a case of you needing your business. Maybe you are in love with the meaning it contributes to your life, the financial rewards, the deep emotional satisfaction when things are going well, the feeling of triumph when you move forward in spite of challenging times. In any case I'm sure your life amounts to much more than running a profitable small business.

A Paradigm Shift

You are not meant to focus on your business in the way that you do. Your business is an instrument, not the destination. Please keep in mind that life is about fulfilling a purpose beyond fiduciary responsibilities. What is your purpose? Can you look beyond the obvious to see how your occupation can be used to elevate your life's meaning?

The Logical Process

Now, that you have figured out an approach to fulfilling your organizational responsibilities and which talent is appropriate, the next area of interest should be to consider incentives. Always keep in mind that incentive; when relevant, will drive talent to your team.

The Changing of Values Over Time

Psychographics are valuable characteristics to consider when creating incentives.  Personal values drive our decisions. Consider the value implications of each question:
  1. Does she have a family?
  2. Is she young and inexperienced?
  3. Is she experienced and ambitious?
  4. Is she single?
  5. Is she married?
  6. Is she middle aged?
  7. Is she religious?
Each question brings with it multiple possibilities.  The more you know about your audience the more likely you are to create value.

The Need For Relevance: What Will You Offer?

What makes incentives meaningful is the needs that they fulfill. If you can guarantee that a need is going to be fulfilled, that is not being fulfilled currently, the prospect will consider your incentive over their existing options.

Learning to Court Talent

There are 14 needs that the average person will look at fulfilling in a business relationship:
  1. Personal Power Or Mastery Over Others
  2. Ego Gratification or  A Sense of Importance
  3. Financial Success Or The Promise of Wealth
  4. Recognition of Efforts 
  5. Social or Group Approval
  6. The Desire to Win - Having a Competitive Nature
  7. A Sense of Roots
  8. The Opportunity for Creative Expression
  9. Need for Accomplishment
  10. New Experiences
  11. Liberty/Freedom
  12. A Sense of Self-Esteem
  13. Love in all it's Forms
  14. Emotional Security
Just know this takes time. This shouldn't be an overnight process or a road toward instant gratification.  The question that should come to mind at this point is:

How do you begin to recognize these inborn traits or individual predilections? By Drawing Them Out

Drawing people out is done one interaction at a time.  Don't be too pushy, least you seem like a used car salesman. The skills that you need to call on are interpersonal. If you are not familiar with these skills go to the nearest book store and pick up a copy of: How To Win Friends and Influence People.  Some of the concepts mention by Dale Carnegie are:
  1. Be Genuinely Interested
  2. Be a Good Listener
  3. Encourage People to Talk
  4. Always Talk in Terms of Their Interests
  5. Make the Other Person Feel Important
A General Process You Can Use to Get Started

Action Plan:

Before you begin networking it's important that you develop a plan of action. The key to having winning relationships with potential stakeholders is to plan.


With today's social media platforms it is easy to see who has what talent and to begin building a relationship.

Build Relationships

Building relationships is always about consideration and consistency. Be a friend.

Identify Needs

As the relationship grows you must learn to serve.  Identify small needs and fulfill them and extend courtesies as opportunities allow.

Invest in the Relationship Over Time

This is not a quick fix process. You should not only concern yourself with the executive you are going to recruit today, but with the ones you will recruit tomorrow.


Nurturing relationships is the key to filling in the performance gaps in your organization in years to come. Your sole responsibility after you identified the talent is to alleviate the perception of risk.  Build up your business verbally and learn to not only brand your business, but yourself.  Seek for the individual who thinks 'the grass is always greener on the other side', everybody comes to a place in their career where they look for a way out, your timing needs to be impeccable.

Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket

You will never know who will show up when you have a need, so you must constantly court talent.  You must have enough talent in your pipeline to ensure that your business needs will be taken care of.  As a closing thought I would ask you to learn to be a friend; be someone that is not only surrounded by talent, but that is a great friend.  Friendship has a way of nurturing important relationships. 

Having your FREE evaluation with a business coach is a $500 value.

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