When seeking the secret to business growth, entrepreneurs often focus on things like strategy, business models or products and services. All of these are important elements of success, but none alone offers guaranteed results.
Take strategy: it’s indisputable that a sound strategy is essential for a solid business. In order to grow consistently over the long-term, you have to know where you’re going and how to get there. Unfortunately, a great strategy alone doesn’t ensure business success.
Strategy useless without effective implementation. Executing well requires engaged employees who are not only compliant with the direction you provide, they are committed and enthusiastic about being a part of it.
Business model is also important. It determines how you make money and deliver your services. Can your great idea be profitability taken to market? Your choices about business model make all the difference in terms of revenue, reach and return.
Who does the work of implementing that model? Employees.
Products and Services
What you offer is as important as who buys it, so product development and service offerings are critical components of business success. Companies that get ahead innovate continuously, tapping into the needs of their target markets to create compelling offerings for buyers.
Unless you’re reselling someone else’s solutions, the people creating these offerings are (who else?)…employees.
Notice a theme here?
Employees, of course! Before you jump on me and say, “It’s the customer, stupid!” please read on….
I often emphasize the importance of positive customer experiences as a vital driver for business growth. After all, if no one is buying, you don’t have a business. But where do these customers come from? How do they learn about your business? How do they buy what you have to offer? How do they experience your brand?
When it comes down to it, the real key to business growth depends on one thing: people. More specifically, the people who work for you. Whether those people are staff, contractors, or partners, the people who represent your business to the world can make or break your business.
Without the right team of committed people, any company can fall victim to market irrelevance or alienation of customers. All kinds of relationships, from customers to vendors, investors and advisors play a part in business success. The most essential of these is your team.
Why the team?
The people on your team, more than any others, are responsible for executing your vision. The first sale you make every day is to them.
- Do they believe you can and will deliver on promises – both to them and to the market?
- Do they have confidence in your potential and faith in the future?
- Are they really along for the ride, or are they simply tagging along, picking up up a paycheck instead of investing their emotional equity?
The job of winning the hearts of your team members belongs to you. Leaders aren’t leaders when no one follows. Remember the passion that prompted you to start your business? It needs to be expressed in a way that those who you rely on to bring it to life can see and share your vision.
You can choose to dictate specifics about how business is done, but the “why” can’t be delegated. It needs to be felt and appreciated by employees if you want them to be committed to the journey with you. This is where your efforts must shift from telling to teaching.
Inspiring employees and moving them from compliance to commitment is not an easy thing. It requires trust, engagement, education and eventually, rewards.
Compliant employees do what they’re asked. They follow the rules and procedures so things get done. But their efforts end there. It’s simply a transactional relationship in which a unit of work is traded for a unit of pay.
Committed employees go above and beyond. They speak out and speak up, challenging their coworkers to do more and do better. They innovate because they care. They’re invested in business with you, even if they don’t own it, because they believe in what you’re doing and how it makes a difference in the world.
As you work are to move your business ahead, remember who matters most. Like a tiny seed that blossoms into a bountiful fruit tree, people are the roots of your success.
Note: While you may strive to inspire commitment from everyone on your team, its a fact of business life that not everyone you hire will work out. For all kinds of reasons, people “check out” without delivering on their end of the employee – employer relationship. It could be a matter of attitude, aptitude or interests. Whatever the reason, if you can’t bring people on board, you should allow them (encourage them) to move on.