What’s the winning formula for building a great business? Why do so many businesses get to a certain size and stop growing? Early in my career, I had several INC 500 Clients go from being good high performing small businesses to becoming successful billion dollar organizations. Why did others stall at less than 50 million dollars? How would you like to know their secret for sustained growth?
Today, after over 30 years of experience, I think I can boil it down to a single statement uttered by Peter Drucker over 20 years ago, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” I would add if you don’t have a good growth strategy today, you may not be around for lunch. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs of our generation have discovered if you want to build a great business start with great people and provide them an environment that empowers them to succeed. I believe that we are moving into a time where you must not only have a strong culture, but a strong understanding of how to play your game. To me, this means understanding and leveraging a unique business strategy is also required in the age of the connected customer.
Here are three rules to complement a strong business culture. If you follow these rules, you will not only be around for lunch, but may build an entrepreneurial business that lasts for generations.
The first rule is to invest in your people. Be willing to spend significant money on developing your people. If you want a growing business, you must create a growing organization and that means developing a strong team. The more your people learn about business, the better they will become at running yours. There are many ways to develop great business talent today and you should be on the leading edge of this education revolution.
The second rule is to hire high smart and emotionally intelligent people. Stop looking at business schools to find your best talent! Many of the best businesses today are run by college dropouts and people with liberal arts educations. Tell me the last time you hired an individual with a liberal arts education. If you want to create a thriving business, invest your time identifying great people from outside your traditional recruiting channels. Surround yourself with people who have different backgrounds than your own and then help them grow. I can hear you saying, “I can’t afford to do this. I need people with strong business backgrounds and extensive work experiences.” Look at the numbers. Only one in three of your employees is excited about coming to work every day. We need to change how we hire people. We need to change the way we do business.
I’m old enough to remember when the software industry and information technology departments were filled with smart people. These people were energized by the opportunities to develop new ways of doing business. These people helped provide their organizations with an incredibly flexible workforce. Many have provided our organizations with incredible business models and market building opportunities. Today, the best technology people understand how to work with others. They are very good at collaborating with others and connect the dots in ways that we can’t even imagine.
Finally, the third rule is to create a culture that appreciates the growth capabilities of each generation. Push strategy down further into your organization. Give your younger employees the opportunities to build their businesses within your organizations. Want to know how to create more strategic organizations? Start by investing in teaching them the game of business. Make it fun and provide them with the flexibility to make their unique contribution to your team. If you don’t you see them working for you, there will be other employers who do. I can think of three separate incidents where Google has taken one of my clients rising stars. Who can blame them? Remember back when you were starting your career, what were you looking for in an organization? When my client informed me of what happened, I thought it was odd so I asked them how it happened. They weren’t certain. So I asked this question. Would you come to work for your company today? Would you let your son and daughter?
After they calmed down, we had a fascinating conversation about what makes Google so interesting to great employees. I have many younger students who have interviewed and went to work there. Besides they don’t hide it, that’s part of what make them Google. You would be amazed at what they teach their teams. Google has a strong growth strategy for both their people and their organization.
So are you ready to learn more about how you create a learning organization? Starting Thursday, I’ll begin sharing the secrets of building high performing teams that will help you build the business of your dreams. See you on Thursday.