15 June 2014
There are a multitude of ways to run a business. I am not sure if there is a “right way” as a business is a moving organism, it’s a culmination of hearts and minds, personalities and passion. Run well, it’s a place where nothing ever settles, just like the Tony Robbins quote, “In nature, nothing stands still, you are either growing or dying.”
I believe a business is exactly the same. Its obvious to me as I have been growing towards this mantra for some time, and the more we do, the more profitable we become and the more fun we have along the way. But for the cynic, stereotypical business leader who believes that a business is where people should come to work to do exactly that, it’s very difficult to persuade them away from what they see is a safe profitable winning formula.
There is definitely a swing away from the cultural straitjacket that potentially holds so many businesses and entrepreneurs back, but even a great many of the businesses who consider themselves as pioneers of this movement would be shocked at just how much can be done.
So what is this new glue that holds some of the fastest and most inspirational teams together and are you really interested in making a bigger difference?
Before I start it’s important I make it very clear, I am the student. What’s so much fun about the journey I am on, is I am learning from everyone around me.
But like any student hungry for information, I search for the answers wherever and whenever I can. The answers are all around us. To coin another Tony Robbins phrase, “Success leaves clues.”
Yes, I have been lucky enough to be able to quiz some of the worlds top entrepreneurs, but talking with every person in and around your business at every level, is just as valuable. The more I discover, the more it appears as common sense.
So what are the answers and how do you run a free spirited business where the excess energy lifts every aspect of the organisation?
Firstly we have to agree on one thing.
Can one athlete run faster than another? Can someone train harder and produce better results than someone else? The answer is of course. Therefore can one employee out perform another?
Of course they can.
So how much time are you taking inspiring your team and creating an environment that is conducive to a fun and friendly workplace? Too many people promote their “culture and fantastic ethics” on their websites, but how many of their staff would back up their claims? Very few I am learning.
If I could simplify what I do and what drives my decisions, I’d best describe our business as a family. The greatest asset of any business is the team it employs. People are important and a highly motivated bunch are far more effective than a group of disillusioned or disenfranchised employees.
So it stands to reason that every team, big or small is worth motivating.
One of the things we got right early on at UKFast, by accident I’d admit, was we employed people with similar values. Gail and I worked out what was important to us and sought to find like minded individuals. We all look, behave, and sound very different, but we all very almost identical under the skin where it matters.
Once we realised what we were doing and that it was gathering momentum, we worked hard to develop this style of recruiting and lots of funny things started to click into place.
Our core values we identified at UKFast are Passionate, Supportive, Innovative, Fun, Dynamic and Professional. You could all argue that everyone is all of these things, however if you ask colleagues to list their 5 top traits, they will all come out very different. (If you do this exercise choose the ones that are naturally close to you, or you will be found out and the exercise will be counterproductive.)
Once you have a group of like minded individuals under one roof it is far easier to motivate. Even more interesting is as the team grows, proof will come by the number of in-house relationships that start. Similar types of people start to pair up very quickly.
One of the most effective methods of recruiting people into a strong culture is through friends, as you find that friends often share similar values. Even greater, I have my nephew, mother-in-law, cousin, wife and more recently the daughter of one of my top sales guys asked “can I come and work for UKFast?”
I explained that naturally she’d need a reference (from her Dad) and the interview was complete, she starts in a few weeks.
It’s as simple as that.
We all have first hand experience of family life, whether as a kid or now as a parent. Whats’s the single most important thing a parent should provide?
In my opinion, a safe and friendly roof over your head, somewhere where it’s fun to live and develop. A place where you can contribute and where you are listened too.
It made sense for our business to aspire to provide a similar environment.
Once we’d started, it was difficult to stop.
If you asked a kid (or big kids in our case) what would the perfect house have? You’d get a list of crazy things, playrooms, computer gaming areas, chill-out spaces, gyms, steam room, bunk rooms, relaxation areas and so on.
And thats how it starts! I say starts, because just like in nature “nothing stands still.” I don’t think we will ever fully evolve as it’s a work in progress. So much so, we now have in-house joiners and builders at UKFast, as continually developing incredible spaces for our team and our clients is a necessity.
So if you take a tour at our place and wonder why we have a 50ft translucent bar, auditorium, recording studio, Japanese pond complete with waterfalls, tunnels connecting environments, log fireplace along with a giant chess set in reception, knowing why we do these things, it might just start making sense… financial sense.
So to put it bluntly, I am not a trained business man. I am a family man trying to provide for an ever increasing extended family in the only way I know how. It’s a wonderful responsibility, one I take very seriously and one I am proud to undertake.
It would be nice to be the product of a refined business school, but that’s not me. The biggest, best thank you’s are much closer to home.
For the roof over my head and for continually over stretching yourself to provide the best you could, thank you Dad.
Happy Father’s Day.