My focus as a small business owner is People, Culture, Leadership and Mindset. I believe these concepts are all intertwined and must work together to create a great work environment for both clients and staff.
I have the privilege of having such a focus because of the stage that I am currently in with my business and having great people working with (not for, with!) me. But, I didn’t get here without some focus on these concepts. In fact, it was because I always had these concepts front of mind that I continued to focus and improve on them.
Here is a quick overview about my process toward these key concepts and how they helped me (and hopefully you) create a great business and work environment:
It became clear in the early days of my career that the people I sat next to day in day out had a way of persuading my mood. It soon became evident this occurred amongst all colleagues.
So, my focus on recruitment was primarily the right fit from a culture and people perspective.
How would I recommend you start changing the People part of your business?
- Go back and change your recruitment process. Focus your Q&As around your mission statement, core values and brand promises;
- Identify negative people . Now that you know who they are, sit them down and give them an opportunity to change. If they can’t become positive role models within three months of your sit down, start looking at how to manage them out;
- Incentivise for positive attitudes are achieving KPIs . We set individual, group and firm targets for each month, quarter and year. I have the joke that we close the doors more here than we have them open. This incentivised culture does help create positive hard-working staff.
Culture is key and is very much dependent on the people. However, as a small business owner you are required to set a standard of culture, both in writing and by actions.
A great culture takes time, but to get it moving there is so much you can do to create a great culture. Here is what I recommend you look at as a starting point. Here you can create a foundation and build your culture to where you want it to be.
- Set your mission statement or vision. Why does your small business do what it does? Ours is ‘We strive to grow a firm that clients want to be a part of and staff never want to leave’.
Set your core values.
What is the standard that your firm and staff must adhere to as a minimum? A few of ours are:
- Leadership by example;
- No one person is greater than the team;
- Focus on the client and all else will follow.
We have 10 in total. They are not new or innovative, and most can be found being used by other businesses. But as a whole, these values set a standard of excellence that we continue to adhere to and it really does create a great culture.
Set your brand promises.
This is the day to day items that our clients expect from us. A few of ours include:
- You’ll get no nasty surprises from the ATO and you will know your taxes 12 months in advance;
- No technical jargon;
- You get the relationship for free.
- Set your brand promises. This is the day to day items that our clients expect from us. A few of ours include:
These are our standards that we adhere to for all clients. It creates a standard of profession, pride and effort that our staff members adhere to.
I’m starting to discover there are different styles of leadership. There are the leaders who:
- ooze confidence and people just love to follow;
- lead from the front (by example);
- lead because they are made to and staff are made to follow them;
- lead by fear.
I don’t like all styles of leadership! Leadership for me is through example. I watch a lot of rugby league and I pay particular interest to the last 20 minutes of a game as that seems to be where all the action comes out. As most players have their hands on their knees, sucking in the big breaths, there is one or two that still seem to be yelling just as loud, running just as fast, testing out the opposition just as much as in the first minute. I have no doubt they are also exhausted and struggling to get through these last moments of the game. However, it is that standard that gets their hands off their knees and makes the exhausted players put in that little bit of extra effort to win the game.
They lead through example and everyone around them lifts their attitude to match! It doesn’t have to be a big play that wins the day, it is as simple as doing the little 1%-2% plays.
So, to build your leadership, think about ticking off a few of the following:
- Show up 30 minutes earlier than the start time . Do it consistently (even once a week should do the trick);
- Take out the rubbish or do the dishes . Show that you are willing to get in the trenches with the team. If you think you are above these tasks, I’m sorry but I can’t help you;
- Talk to your team regularly and listen to what they have to say . Have them buy into your decision making.
The final key concept is a personal make it or break it concept. If you are a negative person you are doing it wrong. To have the people work, to set a good culture, to lead the team and business to success, you need to get your mindset right. A few items to work on:
- Stop complaining immediately . Honestly complaining is an absolute waste of time. If you’re unhappy about something cut it out of your life or find a positive resolution. Complaining is done if one is not willing to take action;
- Stop excuses immediately . I’m not sure what is worse, complaining or excuses. A great saying from one of my staff is, ‘Don’t make excuses to fail, find reasons to succeed’. Not sure if it is an original statement but it is a great one to live by!
- Start approaching problems with solutions . If you don’t do this, you’ll fall into the bad habits of a and b above. Ensure you are solutions orientated moving forward.
By learning the above key concepts and constantly keeping them in mind, I’ve been able to create a business that I really enjoy working in and being a part of. And it’s not just me, our staff and clients also have the same appreciation for our work environment and business, which I’ve been able to mould by focusing on our people and culture and by making sure my leadership style and mindset is right.
As a business owner, I also know how busy we all are and how much time these concepts can take to implement and get right. Plus, it’s even harder when you’re going it alone. So, our final tip is to find a sounding board, like a friend, business partner or advisor who you can snowball ideas with. It’s crazy how much getting a second opinion can help when putting a new plan in place.
Thanks for reading and if there is anything I can help with, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 3367 3155.