Great businesses aren’t formed overnight. They’re the product of your talents that you’ve honed over years of experience. Those years freelancing have finally paid off and now you have the startup cash to hire.
But you still have those negative thoughts in the back of your mind. What if this all falls apart? What if the cash stops coming in the door? What if there’s no demand for this kind of service?
Don’t let doubt get the better of you. Start early and ensure that your business sticks to these five indicators.
Your business communicates
Great businesses communicate. Informing your colleagues, and even yourself about what you’re doing is crucial to lasting success. We often think about communication as a two-way street, but it’s more like a roundabout. We arrive at the roundabout together but sometimes we don’t get to our exit on the first try. This not only means frustration in the office, but lost profits. The Harvard Business Review noted how companies that communicate effectively had a 47% higher return to shareholders over a five-year period. There are financial incentives for keeping your office door ajar.
Goal setting is important to effective communication. Stand-ups are an effective tool to keep your team informed of what you’re doing and to keep yourself accountable. They’re just as effective even if they’re not in person. At Clockk we update our team through Slack every morning about what we did yesterday, what we hope to accomplish today, and whatever may be stopping us from achieving our goals. A simple message often makes all the difference when everybody is so immersed in their own work.
Listening can make or break a team. Active listening, defined as a way of understanding without trying to interpret or judge the moment, is a skill that employers are valuing more than pure recitation and regurgitation of facts. Managers have a crucial role as the more regularly they communicate with employees the more improve workers commitment and performance improves.
When your team is deadlocked over two brilliant ideas, compromising will make you stronger and your team more productive. Being able to compromise actually makes you a stronger leader and a better colleague.
Listen to the other side and remember where they’re coming from. Ultimately you’re part of the same team and have no reason to derail your collective success.
Your business has a unique culture
Creating a great business means creating a unique culture. You want your business to be the talk of the town and you want your employees to be excited to come to work.
Some businesses are unique in their layout and office space. Some have climbing walls and beer on Friday. However, business culture goes beyond the physical. Business culture starts with building a team that can best deliver the services you seek to impart. Recruiting aspiring young professionals one way to creating a culture that is dedicated to success. After all, they want to succeed like you do.
Business culture extends beyond the working hours. Team building sessions at ropes courses or paintballing or even going for a pint after work makes a difference when trying to relate with your team. Your goal should be to have people want to work for you, and making that happen starts with creating a unique business culture.
Culture goes beyond the silly things you do as a team. Start by developing a set of core values that describe what your business is all about. Let those permeate everything that you do, from the services you provide to how you interact with your colleagues. Google’s core values have informed how they deliver their services and how they deliver the best possible product.
- Focus on the user and all else will follow.
- It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
- Fast is better than slow.
- Democracy on the web works.
- You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
- You can make money without doing evil.
- There’s always more information out there.
- The need for information crosses all borders.
- You can be serious without a suit.
- Great just isn’t good enough.
Any of these ring a bell? Next time you’re using a Google product, think about these core values and how they’ve been a part of your experience. What are the values you your business to have?
Your business is passionate
People who believe in and are dedicated to what you’re doing will make your business successful. Dedication means more than just showing up and doing your work. It also means going out into the world to connect with like minded businesses. Taking the time to be interviewed in magazines or attend conferences to see what the industry trends shows that you’re not just dedicated to your craft inward, but you’re also actively looking out for what could change.
Part of figuring out what can be better is asking what purpose your business serves and who it serves. Understanding the unique niche that your business occupies and why you exist – as simple as it may seem – will form the bedrock that makes your work successful.
Companies like Google have ten rules that they follow that helps create a sense of purpose and direction. MindSea has five core values that build the basis of their business: empowerment, mutual respect, total well being, do no harm, and integrity. Together these create a sense of direction and vision that will create a business that’s unified and ready to tackle the biggest challenges together.
Dedication extends beyond the people you serve. If your business is able to have a larger impact in the community, you not only bring good press your way but tangibly make people’s lives better. Businesses like Aggregate are proving this is possible. Aggregate is a “social justice creative strategy group” working with philanthropists and nonprofits to communicate messages that otherwise wouldn’t have the chance.
Passion doesn’t stay within working hours. It comes home with your employees. Whether that means your programmers are continuing to code on projects they enjoy or your marketers seek out new ways to reach their target audience, that passion is what makes a difference. If your interest in your work ends when you go home, you have no passion. Your employees should enjoy what they do so much that they can’t help becoming better and better at their craft.
Your business always asks how to be better
Just ask Blockbuster about the consequences of refusing to innovate. Organizations like the UNHCR even have positions dedicated to innovating and asking how things can be done differently. It can be something small – like having a whiteboard to ask what can be done better – or it can be annual visits by consultants to figure out what can be done better.
Take the time to do some research on what your competitors are doing and how they’re doing it. Doing an environmental scan can give you the advantage of seeing where the industry is going and how to stay ahead of the curve.
Doing an effective post mortem on projects that failed is just as important as relishing in their success. Sometimes it’s hard to look through projects that didn’t make it all the way, but asking the hard questions – what did you do wrong, what did your staff do wrong, and what can be learned for the next go round. You should walk away from a post-mortem meeting with a set of action items and feeling hopeful for your next project.
At Clockk we’ve had our fair share of successes and failures. An early version of our software was so hard to use that we couldn’t on-board our own employees – yikes! We took time to re-examine our software and on-boarding process. When we tried it again, on-boarding was way better.
You’re invested in what your business has to offer
This seems simple, but if you’re not invested in what you have to offer then your business is bound to fail. From the outset of your business recruit people who are genuinely interested in or willing to learn what you have to offer. The best thing you can look for when sorting through dozens of resumes is a willingness to learn.
Clockk deals with timesheets. On the surface it doesn’t sound as sexy as creating plastic bags out of insect husks or other world saving technologies, but when you get further into the weeds it becomes fascinating. Clockk incorporates machine learning to the benefit of startups and freelancers integral to the gig economy.
Reflecting on that first day and asking if your business fits these five indicators may just make the difference between a good business and a great business. It’s important to stay reflective and critical of the steps your business is taking, but remember to enjoy the ride along the way. You’ve earned it.