3 Success Strategies from Real Small Business Owners

In our line of work, we talk with a lot of small business owners. Naturally, our customers have plenty of insight into running small businesses. As we interact with them, they share plenty of useful advice that could be applied to many business owners. Recently, as we caught up with a few of them, we had a particular topic in mind: What is the one thing you do every week to ensure success for your business?

Surprisingly, there wasn’t a lot of variety in their responses. The underlying theme? Employees are key to each business’ growth.

Employees want to do well and will work hard for an employer who cares about their development. It starts with treating your employees as if they are your internal customers. If you give them a great experience, your employees will do the same for your customers.

Often considered the inventor of “management” as we know it, Peter Drucker had this to say about engaging your employees: “Accept the fact that we have to treat almost anybody as a volunteer.”

One thing that many less experienced business owners and managers take for granted is the fact that employees don’t have to be there. While it’s easy to get hung up on the assumption that they need the paycheck, or that external obligations will prevent them from leaving a job that they don’t like, employees are just as free to leave a job as managers are to terminate workers. The bottom line is that your workforce is highly valuable. As such, they deserve to be treated with respect and appreciated.

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It sounds pretty simple, right? Sometimes, though, we all need reminders to step back and appreciate everything that employees do, because even the best of us occasionally slip into the taking-someone-for-granted ditch. Here are a few practical tips that will help you make the most out of one of your biggest investments.

Paul Leamon, owner of Beermiscuous in Chicago, says:

Business success, no matter how good your business plan, strategy, or competitive tactics, comes down to your people. It takes a team working in rhythm to execute with high success. Every week I sit with my key managers together as a team—and individually—to both connect personally and discuss progress on strategic metrics. Regular check-ins and feedback builds a healthy team!

Meet with your managers or shift-leaders as a team and 1:1 weekly for a touch-base. Discuss goals and listen to their feedback .

Kevin Gelfand, owner of Shake Smart in San Diego, has this to say about their success:

Our employees are the front lines to our business, the ones who interact with our customers. While customer service is vital, I am a firm believer in employee service too. I find time to interact with our staff on a personal level to ask how life is going outside of Shake Smart. Showing a genuine interest in them goes a long way.

Customer service isn’t only for your customers; employees are your #1 customer. Take the time to get to know all of your employees.

Chhaya En, owner of The Soup Spoon in Rochester, New York, reminds us:

I treat all employees the way I want to be treated. The golden rule. From dishwasher to chef, I treat everyone with respect, professionalism, and gratitude for the work they are doing to help me succeed. They are my frontline, and I can't succeed without them.

Your employees are a vital component of your success and thanking them for the job they do to contribute to your success is too important to forget.

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In this day and age, there are plenty of ways to encourage your employees to be engaged and productive at work. Ultimately dignity and respect are often what your employees need the most. Talking with them, checking in, listening to their input, and thanking them for their work go a long way.

Running a small business is a lot of work. You get busy trying to make the equation work perfectly as you take on new projects or struggle to boost traffic and grow profits. However, your employees are a key variable to your success and they deserve quality leadership during the good times and the bad. They’re worth your investment.