Improve yourself, improve your business

September 19th, 2013

Here’s a thought for you – improving your business starts with improving you.
I was tempted to just leave the blog at that and let you ponder that thought, but that’d be lazy of me, and it would set a bad example. Which brings me to the second point I want to make – when you work at setting a good example to everyone in your business, you’re on your way to achieving great things.

When most small business owners talk about ‘focusing inwards’ they’re often referring to taking a break from watching the market or the competition, and concentrating instead on the goals, the people and the systems within their business. But to really get to the heart of the matter, you have to look at yourself. After all, you can run all the training courses you like, etch your business plan on a gold plaque in your boardroom, preach the principals of success long and loud …but if your own behavior doesn’t ring true, you’re wasting your time. No-one can expect to be a successful and respected business leader using a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ model. Nor should we expect our people to ooze happiness and enthusiasm if we, as business owners, sulk around the office in a black mood, dressing down anyone unfortunate enough to cross our path.

Business owners are just like parents in a way. We can preach, teach, rant, shout, cajole and bribe, but at the end of the day the best way to lead is by setting a positive example. Now there’s a challenge!

As ‘bosses’ of course we’re only human. We have our pre-coffee lows, our off days and, maybe once or twice a year, those days when the Care Factor slips down to levels where we can barely even be bothered putting on pants. Maybe on those days it’s best we simply take the day off. But on all those other days – the ‘normal’ days – one of the greatest things you can do for your business is to set a good example. There’s no need to be a saint or to reach for dizzy, inspirational heights – the behavior and attitudes that make a difference are mostly little things. Next time you step out amongst your staff, have a go at putting some of the following easy tips into action. At best you’ll make a positive impression that will have a knock-on effect in your whole business, and at the very least, you’ll make your staff smile and wonder what the heck is going on…

Don’t spare the paper clips.

A mean-spirited business owner is not a good look. I’m not saying you should go about spending like there’s no tomorrow, but scrooging on your business and your staff sends a bad message and sets an awful example. Spend where you need to spend and do it with a smile on your face. Now and then do something surprisingly generous, too. A generous spirit is something that everyone can respect.

Practise empathy.

Before you rush in and make a decision based purely on your own point of view, pause for a moment and put yourself in the shoes of the other person. It may come as a surprise, but learning to see situations from the other person’s perspective, be they an employee, customer or supplier, can help you to make better decisions.

‘Compromise’ is not a dirty word.

Always aim for an outcome where everyone wins. Be aware that sometimes this will look like a compromise – and there’s nothing at all wrong with that. TV dramas and the ‘tough as nails’ school of business may tell us that it’s all about stepping on the other guy, making ruthless moves and getting everything our own way, but that is, quite frankly, bullshit. Situations where everyone wins are the ones that lead to healthy, long-term business relationships and a future where we all get to share in success. This applies to suppliers and employees alike.


If it was good enough for Aretha Franklin to spell out it’s good enough for small business owners, too. Treat everyone you encounter in business with respect. There is no ‘rank’ or status that deserves less respect than any other. From the person delivering packages to the people cleaning the restrooms, all the way up to owners and managers, build respect into how you treat everyone – and that starts with respectful communication.

Manners matter.

Be polite! It’s terribly out of fashion these days – and all that means is that people will immediately notice your good manners – they will stand out and make a great impression. Being a business owner or ‘boss’ doesn’t buy you permission to be blunt, bossy or plain rude. Show some humility and it will be reflected back, making your business a better place to work.

From little things…

Don’t ignore people or simply pass them off. Have you ever realised after finishing a conversation with an employee that while he or she was still speaking, you’d already switched off, changed channels, and simply shrugged some sort of vague acknowledgement as they completed what they had to say? Engage. It doesn’t take much. Use your ears more than your mouth and really listen to what’s being said. Take notice and acknowledge a new photo on a desk, a new suit, hairdo or anything relevant. Offer sincere compliments. When your people understand that there’s attention being paid to the little details that are important to them, they’ll feel more valued as part of your business.

Your business is a reflection of your own habits and attitudes. Business can be tough, and as a business owner myself I can understand how the relentless nature of running the show can wear an owner down. If you’ve ever walked in with the weight of the world on your shoulders and felt the need to share some of that weight through a display of negative attitude, you know how quickly the bad vibes can spread. The good news is that reversing it is just as easy.

Next time you’re about to step into the workplace, check yourself, take a deep breath and make sure you’re setting a great example to the people you’re dealing with. Bring on the positive – through respect, empathy and sometimes just a smile – and you might be pleasantly surprised at just how contagious your example can be.

Wishing you the best for your week in business,

If you'd like to learn how Earlypay's Invoice Finance & Equipment Finance can help you boost your working capital to fund growth or keep on top of day-to-day operations of your business, contact Earlypay's helpful team today on 1300 760 205, visit our sign-up form or contact [email protected].