Your Business

Power to the people – building your business from the inside out

 

No matter what business you’re in, success boils down to one thing – your people. 

I’ve written before about business great and academic Jim Collins – in his best-seller Good to Great, he analysed many US corporate giants to see what was critical in their success of turning their good business into a great business.

Great businesses found it was not hiring the right people for the job so much as hiring the right people that made the difference. Academics aside, the right people will not only help you grow your business, but they’ll grow with your business. 

Let me share with you a couple of examples to show you just what I mean.

It’s renovation season and Woollahra is in the midst of a construction frenzy – it seems each and every street has work vans straddling curbs. These businesses have all done the right thing – outside each and every house is a signboard with their business details. This makes life that little bit easier for anyone set on keeping up with the Joneses. 

But, it seems, the business savvy stopped there. Walking past one site, I heard language that could – and did – make a grown man blush. And when I looked for the source, sure enough, there was the sign, boasting the name of the business responsible. 

Let me assure you this wasn’t simple a one-off – I walk past the same site three or four times a day and each time, without fail, the curses continue. I’ve overheard dressing downs and general conversation and the level of language is always identical. 

Yes, the business’s branding is pretty schmick, and it looks like they’ve spent a fair bit on signage to promote their brand. It gives the impression of being professional and reliable – but their language on site implies otherwise. 

Now, let’s look beyond Woollahra’s back lanes for another example.  

Over the Christmas break, my wife Maureen was shopping for a special dinner she’d being planning for months. 

“I hit the shops early, intent on buying the freshest of produce – greens, fruit, cheeses and flowers,” says Maureen. “I wanted quality, at the best price, without stress.”

She found herself in Macleay Street, Potts Point, the trendy area in inner city Sydney, where there are two markets: Woolworths where all the fresh food people hang out and Fratelli Fresh, literally right above Woollies. So, which did she choose? 

“The night was important. I wanted the best. And I get frustrated in supermarkets. They’re often cheaper but the endless aisles of junk and the almost unnatural exercise puts me in a spin.” 

Despite the higher price tag, she opted for the Italian provedore.

With her list in hand, she swung into action only to be stopped in her tracks by the white hydrangeas.

“They’re lovely, aren’t they?” said a smiling girl she later came to know as Miriam. “Those soft blue centres are so pretty.”  

Agreeing, she took two bunches, cheaper than any florist she’d seen.

Her trolley started to fill — apricots, lychees, peaches, grapes, cherries, raspberries and blueberries. Searching for fresh horseradish, she bumped into Miriam again, who told her one stalk not two would be ample and though they didn’t stock crème fraiche, it really was best with horseradish and beef. 

All done, Maureen hit the checkout, manned by Miriam. 

“She commented on my selection, seeming to appreciate all my purchases. Then she offered her recipe for an Italian dressing – she even wrote it down! With the tally rung up, I said I’d pay cash for a fresh baguette just delivered from Iggy’s Bakery. Simply irresistible. But Miriam said it was a gift. And she wished me a great evening as she helped load the manna from heaven into my car.”

Let’s stop the story telling right there. Consider, though, both these tales. Which would you prefer to do business with? Now I’m not saying the tradies need to write down a salad dressing recipe to win your favour – but I am saying your people are the face of your business. They can make or break your brand. So, no matter your business, you’ve got to make sure you have more Miriams among your ranks and less foul-mouthed tradies.

 

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