Inside Your Business
Inspiring owner-like effort comes from cultivating a vibrant culture inside your business. Many factors drive your company’s value, but perhaps the most important is how your business would perform without you. To get your company to flourish when you’re not around, you need owner-like effort from your team.
Here are three ways to get your employees to care as much as you do:
- Provide Perks Others Can’t
To create a thriving culture try offering perks your competitors can’t.
Natalie and Chris Nagele are the life and business partners behind the software as a service (SaaS) company Postmark. Obsessed with helping her employees do more meaningful work, Natalie began researching ways to inspire her staff. She came across data from the Henley Business School suggesting implementing a four-day workweek created a healthier workplace culture.
Because the couple owned Postmark outright they didn’t need the permission of a board or outside investors. After a short discussion, the couple decided to try it. Transitioning to a three-day weekend created a culture in which their employees enjoyed working, resulting in consistent growth for the organization until 2022, when the Nageles sold the company in a life-changing exit.
What makes your business unique and how can you use it to keep the good people you have and consistently attract top talent to grow your business? Allow employees to use owner-accrued airline miles for personal travel? Provide on-site food options for your staff to minimize time spent off at lunch? Encourage people to bring pets to work in your spacious office? Pick your perk and let it work for you!
- Cast Your Employees as Stars in a “David vs. Goliath” Movie
In 2008 Gavin Hammar started Sendible, a platform that allows companies to manage all their social media accounts from one place.
Then after 8 years of steady growth, a large competitor entered the space, causing Sendible to hit a sales plateau. Hammar gathered his employees and explained the challenge they were facing. Rather than sugar coat the problem, he encouraged his team to think of themselves as underdogs in an us-against-the-world battle.
The team changed focus to position the organization as smaller and started a podcast, shared photos of his employees online, answered customer questions via asynchronous video, and sent personalized LinkedIn messages to every new customer.
With a common enemy to hate, Hammar’s employees followed the boss’s lead and gave extra effort to humanize themselves and the company.
Sendible started to grow again. Sometimes taking a challenge head-on is the best way to come out on top. In 2021, with a thriving company focused on the customer experience, Hammer was able to capitalize on his efforts with a lucrative sale to an acquirer.
What is the biggest challenge facing your organization? How can you rally your employees to think differently to succeed together?
- Gamify Your Business
Another way to inspire your employees to give owner-like effort is to gamify your business.
Josh Davis is the founder of the freight brokering company Speedee Transport. Brokering freight is all about gross margin—the difference between what you charge the customer and how much it costs to hire a driver to move the stuff.
Rather than simply telling his employees to focus on gross margin, Davis made a game of it. He created quoting software with a virtual gross margin scoreboard for his employees to see. The software gave each employee a very public, objective, and transparent scoreboard they could follow daily to know whether they were winning or losing that day.
Davis then tied his employees’ compensation to gross margin, which created a healthy competitive culture within the company.
Within two years, Speedee Transport grew from two to forty-five employees, and Davis was able to sell his business for a truckload in 2019.
Owner-like effort comes from making your people feel like part of a shared mission and giving them a working environment that brings out the best in them. And that effort has a ripple effect as it increases value in the organization and improves all the things that make employees want to stay – additional access to cash for investment, a positive culture, and scalable growth for job security.
Article contributed by The Resultants – a leading Twin Cities based business advisory firm, helping owners and their leadership teams grow and scale businesses for over 20 years!