I just counted up 8 roles I have had this week – media planner, buyer, creative director, copywriter, HR manager, coach, trainer, account manager – all in the space of 5 days. I’m also a wife, mother, daughter, grandmother – and dog owner. I can be all these things only with the support of others – colleagues, suppliers, accountant, family, cleaners, gardener (not necessarily in priority order :-)) – and of course clients, without whom we would have no money and no reason to come to work. Many other small business owners could say the same. I think that, unless we are able to recognise our own strengths and weaknesses and focus only on the things we do well, we can very easily become overwhelmed and under-effective. The lady who cleans our house promotes herself as “A helping hand for the overwhelmed” and that’s exactly what she is (Debbie Wales at ShropGirlFriday). Sarah who cleans our offices is another star who saves us from the clutter that gathers around us as we work. And Peter who does our garden not only keeps the weeds in check but also has a key in case we’re delayed. He will walk our dog, or even take food out of the freezer when I forget. Our very good neighbour Richard also has a key. This sort of help is so valuable to working people – you may have a similar support network.
But it wasn’t always that way. When I’m working with starter businesses I remember my own early days when having help was an unaffordable luxury, or so I thought. I struggled to do book-keeping for a couple of weeks before I accepted that it was not my forte, took me many hours longer than somebody competent and was taking my time away from what I should be doing, ie finding clients. I very quickly employed a book-keeper although I was not drawing a salary myself at that time. It was fortunate that I was not a designer which meant that I had to employ someone to do the work for the clients I brought in. It is only by leveraging your own time that you can grow a business. If you work alone, trying to do everything, it can only ever be a hand to mouth existence.
I try to help my clients to recognise where and when help is needed and to employ or outsource work to the best people they can find. Running a business is like putting together a jigsaw. One piece missing and the whole picture is lacking – and one or more pieces that don’t fit properly means the whole puzzle can fall apart. Since I have been coaching business owners and training their staff, I have learnt more about the value of supportive workplace relationships. Large companies can suffer from problems that smaller ones avoid simply because communication is easier and more immediate in small groups. Alpha was larger in terms of employees some years ago and, once you have over a dozen people on board, they tend to split into groups. Politics arise, people jockey for position and this is when the business can start to show cracks. Most problems can be solved by better communications and that is my particular area of interest. Everyone has their own agenda and their own priorities but, if you provide people with a common cause that they all believe in, you will have all your arrows pointing the same way and your business can move forward.
“Everyone whinges about their boss” – true? Maybe, but only as much as bosses moan about their employees. Basically most people want to do a great job, and to be recognised for it – and that applies to business owners as much as it does to their staff. Make people feel good and the goodwill comes back to you. It also filters through to clients, suppliers and all the other people you meet through the day. At a training meeting this week I was helping a team to prepare a SWOT analysis on the company they worked for. One of the team told me their key strength as a business was that their employer was “well known and respected in his field”. I thought that was great and the sign of a good leader who had the capability to inspire his staff. What would your staff say about you?
We can help you to grow your business with coaching or training – whilst you focus on the parts you do best. Call Amy or me on 01743 236631<