Building sustained value growth in a small business is much more than dollars and cents. Value becomes the defining ingredient in a purposeful business – with a unique personality that your organisation thrives on and competitors envy.
But what do we really mean by value – and how does it resonate to the success and culture of the small business?
As a commercial and social entrepreneur of more than 25 years, I get to uncover and polish that elusive diamond that we call value and form the bedrock on which sustained success can be built. But, like the diamond-in-the-rough, value is not a simple thing to discover.
For many business owners, their small business is a labour of love. It’s the creative output of a wave of inspiration and relentless passion. But to grow beyond the limits of one person’s personal energy, we need to create momentum toward a shared passion for a goal. We need to create a working environment where employees give their all, and clients, suppliers and partners are swept up in the dream and become enthusiastic participants in the journey.
Employees find fulfilment in having the opportunity to express their skills and potential. If they are motivated by the opportunity to create meaningful value, they are less motivated by remuneration. You know you are doing it right when salary is secondary in importance to meaning and value.
I’ve had the pleasure in the last few months to lead the re-cutting and polishing efforts at a classic diamond-in-the-rough in the community services sector.
At LINK Community and Transport, our group of employees and volunteers all work extremely hard. With a transformational refocus on community value, they are now working hard on the right things. The things that matter. And that has produced a key difference.
One of the keys to small business success is to find a purpose that resonates. It might seem simplistic, but unlocking the message that creates an organic flow of change and value-driven activity within a small business is not an easy thing. For a small business to discover resonant value needs them to see themselves from the outside in – to identify what they contribute to the world that is truly different and worthy of people’s time and attention.
Our transition was driven by re-finding our purpose in our role within the concept of wellbeing at home. Rather than seeing ourselves as administering a couple of government programs, we are determined to see ourselves as being able to help vulnerable people remain safe, happy and healthy in their own homes – connected to services and community. We repositioned the core strengths of the business in transport against the concept of mobility and transport as a determinant of health and wellbeing outcomes for individuals, and reduced systemic costs to governments. It changed our outlook, our priorities and our culture.
Reframing our purpose has enabled our staff to be motivated across many ways of rethinking and decision-making for the service we provide to customers and the prosperous operational future of the business.
As a social entrepreneur and governance expert, I understand that creating this positive environment involves significant ‘rewiring’ of attitudes and culture. It needs to be authentic on all levels to take on a life of its own. People-focused, value-driven small businesses can become go-to organisations that outperform their competitors. It can become the place people want to connect with as customers and as employees in competitive marketplaces.
A meaningful definition of purpose in terms of value and values will give your team the opportunity to shine – and bring their whole selves to work in the business – creating a multi-faceted flow of creative success from the inside out. Enjoy the journey.