Over the years, I’ve consulted with dozens of small and medium business owners, and I’ve even worked hands on with a few. Time and again, I’ve observed them chasing a grocery list of “must dos” that are not tailored to their context and not authentic to them. Each time, I’ve had to intervene, ask some tough questions and help them to ultimately realize that their business success heavily depends on them embracing their values, hopes and dreams, and translating those into their business.
A successful business is a community
A quick google of the word community turns up the following definition: “the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.” If we were to look at your business through this lens, in order for it to be a community, there must be defined attitudes and interests. What are those attitudes in your business? What are its values and what do you want your team to believe in? Further, if your clients were asked what the values of your business are, what would you want them to say? What do you think they would say now?
It is imperative that you define the ethos and values of your business – the values that you want each member of your team to hold to and to live on a daily basis, as well as extend to your customers.
A successful business has a vision
No, making money is not a vision. Lol. A vision is a long-term, big picture idea of the impact you want your business to make in its community, in your country and in the world. Yes, if done right, a successful community business can most certainly impact the country and the world. Think of all the Facebook videos you’ve seen of a business in some other part of the world doing something inspiring for people or for the environment – THAT’s a business with a vision!
So, what’s yours? What impact do you want your business to make in the world? What do you want to change? What big problem do you want to tackle? A vision also gives your team something to rally around, to believe in and to fight for, in good times and bad. Get yourself a vision.
A successful business has a heart
The cornerstone of survival in business is giving back. Even the mafia takes care or its own and look how long they’ve been around! But seriously, the more people / communities / causes your business can help, the more your business will benefit in the following ways:
1. Goodwill – people will WANT to support you, because they are inspired and/or grateful
2. PR – word of mouth remains the most powerful form of advertising. The more your business is mentioned by people for doing good, the more free advertising your business gets
3. Team building – the team that gives back together, bonds more, and a bonded team is always a good thing!
4. More applicants – if your business is a popular one within your community and country, job seekers will automatically seek it out. This makes the task of filling positions that much easier, because you have a deeper pool from which to fish.
What causes resonate deeply with you? What causes resonate deeply with your team? Have a meeting of minds and maybe pick 2 or 3 that you guys can tackle on a quarterly or biannual basis, and rally others (family members, willing clients and even suppliers) around; all for the greater good.
Keep in mind that charity starts at home – how can you take care of your team beyond the pay check? Is it better working conditions? An in-house after school care program? Perhaps free fruit or snacks each day, or pizza Fridays? What can you do to go beyond the obligations for your team? A team that is treated well, by and large treats their boss and their customers well, in turn.
A successful business has a personality
What’s the personality of your business? When clients step into the door, what ‘vibe’ do they get? Is the atmosphere relaxed, or uptight and tense? Are your team smiling and open, or business-like and distant? Do clients feel like they can ask any question and have their issue dealt with in a warm, friendly manner, or do they feel rushed and clinically dispatched with? Is your business place fun and inviting, or drab and sparse? All these ingredients determine the gut reaction that your clients will have to your business and to your team, and directly affects their level of trust, as well as their willingness to come back and to refer.
So, have you taken the time to define the personality of your business? If not, I invite you to do so over the next few weeks, and include your team in the process. A great starting point is figuring out what kind of environment each of you would like to work in each day, and go from there – if the team is comfortable and happy, they’ll make the clients comfortable and happy too!
A successful business is just like a child – what kind of adult do you want to send out into the world at 18 or 21, and what do you have to do to make sure that you achieve that goal? Approach your business the same way, and you’ll reap the results.
Good luck and success!