Secrets Small Business Can Learn from Big Companies
Silicon Valley and the startup world have captured our imagination. The idea of bright , independent thinkers bringing their own vision to life (and making lots of money) has become the new American dream. In fact, 30 percent of Americans are currently self-employed, and that number is expected to grow over the next decade. Business media is rife with stories of how an enterprise can learn from start-ups and small business.
We wanted to flip the script on that way of thinking and explore what small business can learn from large companies. If you’ve never worked in a large company and went straight to the start-up route, you may have missed some of the following lessons from Corporate America…
Structure, Systems, and Discipline
The casual ridicule directed towards cubicle-centered workplaces may be part of the popular business dialog, but there is a reason big companies often make big profits. None of them get there without a highly organized, disciplined system. Yes, one of the joys of working in a smaller company can be the more relaxed atmosphere. But too often small business is too lax about how work is structured.
Every one of your employees needs to know exactly what their job function is, and creating a system for how they do their job helps avoid repeating mistakes that in the end drain your bottom line. That means creating procedures for the processes that your employees regularly engage in, and having a system of quality control so that you can make adjustments to problem areas. Write your procedures down and document problem areas. Pay attention to your most successful employees and have a clear understanding of how they do their job. What may be intuitive for them may not be obvious to your other staff, or even to you.
Once you develop your processes , give your staff a CRM system and other communication tools that make their job easier. To avoid filling their inboxes needlessly you could look to Glip or Slack, and make sure their work stays primarily in the cloud with Google Drive or Dropbox to avoid unnecessary and morale-draining downtime. These are less expensive (or free) tools that emulate the types of systems that bigger businesses employ to stay on track.
A Good Work Culture is Never Accidental
Over the past decade, big business has focused a clear eye on how employee engagement impacts the bottom line. Again and again, research has shown that happy workplaces with passionate employees are more productive and more profitable. Happy workplaces are no accident.
Small business needs to protect and nurture their work culture, but first, they must build it. Start with a plan about the type of people you want to hire, with your company culture in mind. Then, ensure that each employee understands your company values and mission, and that they are an integral part of it. Not only must your employees feel valued, they must understand how much they mean to your success and feel that your success is their success.
How do you make that happen in real life? For one, your company’s values and mission must be a living breathing part of your work life – you must talk about them regularly. Acknowledge employees when they reinforce those values, and give them the autonomy they crave to do good work. Hire for your culture and nurture it, and you’ll have a huge impact on your success.
Stay Focused on Your Strategy
Many small business leaders are in a constant state of self-education, trying not only to run their business, but to stay abreast of the latest technology and tools. That’s great, but shiny object syndrome can also throw you off course. You started your business because you had an idea that inspired you, and you are still in business because you did a lot of things right.
Larger businesses are often portrayed as unwieldy, hulking organizations that can’t spin on a dime. Sometimes that is a very good thing because they are also unable to chase every new idea that comes up, and they stick to their mission. Make sure that as you learn and come across new ideas that you don’t throw your team off course by continually introducing new ideas, tools, software,etc. Set a plan and stick to it, and don’t be afraid to check out the big guys and continue to learn from the things they do right.
Learn more about what it takes to exceed in sales by downloading The Secrets to Building a Winning Sales Process eGuide. Leading sales experts Anthony Iannarino and Amy McClosky Tobin show you their sales secrets.