Tribe it Up

The other day I had lunch with my friend and fellow entrepreneur. We spoke candidly about some of the challenges in our respective businesses, and as we were getting ready to leave the restaurant she said to me, “I’m so relieved that I’m not the only one who goes through this stuff.”

That statement struck a cord with me because so often as entrepreneurs and small business owners we do feel like we have to figure everything out on our own, and that can be a very lonely position to take. The truth of the matter is, we have more in common than we realize. Even though we may be running businesses in different industries with our own very specific challenges, on a slightly higher level we are all the same.

We face issues and questions around cash flow, sales, employee recruitment and retention. We have to pay attention to marketing, advertising, culture and reputation. As our companies grow we most likely have a team in place to assist with many of these items, but ultimately, as a small business owner, the buck does stop with us.

But that doesn’t mean we have to go it alone.

Taking the time to intentionally seek out and build a support network for yourself is, I believe, key for the success of a business. At a minimum you may want to consider hiring a business coach or a mentor, but beyond that setting up a “mastermind” group of trusted peers will help you to keep challenges – and successes – in perspective.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released in the Fall of 2017.

The Essence of Business? It’s the People.

Small business people  understand that cash flow, policies, and the company’s focus are all directly tied to actual people. Larger companies, however, seem to often forget this fact.

“I’m just a paper pusher.”

“I have to keep my team efficient and make our numbers.”

“Our bottom line is better this year so management is happy.”

In thinking about business, work and careers it’s easy to narrowly focus on your role, responsibilities and metrics for success. This tendency may be amplified if you work for a government agency or large company.

And yes, those metrics are important, but what if you start thinking about your job in broader terms – in terms of the lives of people that you (yes, you) are directly affecting?

Business is ultimately about people. Not just the people at the top. Not only the owners, CEO’s, presidents and the folks with the corner offices. Not just the people who work at a particular company. It’s about all of those people, of course, but in reality is about much more than that.

This “ripple effect” is far-reaching and it’s both real and important.

The often forgotten mass of those affected by the actions of the employees of “Comany A” are people who work for and with companies that do business with the main company. Too often I’ve seen representatives of large organizations adopting a lackadaisical attitude when it comes to processing invoices or approving purchase orders. Taking weeks or months to get that paperwork through might not seem like a big deal to the state employee or to the corporate VP. After all, their paychecks are probably not directly affected by this. But the fact is, to the little guy – the one feeling the ripple down effect – those actions might make the difference between being able to afford groceries or not.

The consequences of our actions are not always immediately apparent to us but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real, both in life and in business. Even seemingly mundane tasks can make a big difference in someone else’s life. Yes, all of the business metrics are important and we have to fill out reports and other paperwork, but ultimately it’s the people who matter. Real people with real lives. It matters that invoices are processed quickly. It matters that lab results are reported correctly.

It matters that someone does their job right the first time, not just to please your boss but because somewhere down the line you’re touching someone else’s life. And what could be more important than that?