I’ve made a lot of mistakes in business over the years. Most were pretty minor… but several were… let’s just say, significant learning experiences.
One of the biggest was that as we grew… and we added staff… there was a period of time where I allowed certain details to get away. After all, I had people who could handle those things now… so I moved down the hall.
Previously, I had my office right up front… in the mix.
I was personally engaged… non-stop… in building strong relationships with our customers, suppliers, and employees. In fact, when we started out… long before I had thousands of employees… I was also the custodian, chief coffee maker, and orchestrator of all things customer service.
There were very few problems… mainly because I was all over them the second potential conflict was born. Issues were handled… and handled quickly.
Then growth happened… revenue growth… customer growth… staff growth… new facilities… six times the square feet. And I made two critical errors. One… I was young, and didn’t know how to equip my team. And two… I took a corner office in our new building… away from the heat… and the heart.
And as I began to focus on the “big picture”, some of the small details began falling through the cracks… incredibly important small details. Thankfully, I gave up the status… and the corner office… in the next move.
One lesson I learned is that our customers, vendors, and employees will tell us what needs to be fixed… if, and this is a BIG if… if, we are accessible, interested, and transparent.
In a recent conversation with the founder of a small ($3M annual) service firm, he acknowledged that things had really plateaued, and he didn’t believe it was the economy.
I agreed, and asked him what the honest feedback was… coming from the street. What type of suggestions, criticisms, or complaints were they receiving… and how did that differ from the previous 24-36 months. I told him it may be time for him to take a personal lead on this.
“Why… I can’t afford to sit around and listen to complaints all day..!” he exclaimed.
All day? Yikes..!
I told him that if that were true… that there were really that many issues, then I believed he couldn’t afford not to. As the leader of a small business or service company, there is typically one person who can make a decision this minute… and have it implemented by 5 p.m.; one person who can right a wrong for a customer, or who can recognize the next great idea when it is shared by a vendor.
And hopefully… that person is you.
Where does the buck ultimately stop at your business or on your team?
Where do your customers and suppliers think it stops? What about your employees or other members of your team?
Better yet, where does the buck stop in your personal life… oops, that’s a future article :)
I look forward to speaking with you.