Fast money, big dreams, and never-ending hustle. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about, right?
I take a different view.
To me, entrepreneurship is about more than making a quick buck. It’s about building something that lasts. Something that makes a difference in the world.
At age 21, I took control of the debt-burdened family business my parents started many years earlier. I was young, inexperienced, and way over my head. The business was on the verge of bankruptcy. Over 35 years later, Absco Solutions is one of the most respected firms in our industry. We have weathered recessions, market crashes, and challenges that would have destroyed most businesses.
The key to our success is how we leveraged certain entrepreneurial strategies that are often misinterpreted as mere trends. In reality, these tried-and-true concepts have always worked—and will continue to work—no matter what the economy or business landscape looks like.
If you want your business to thrive, here are five practices that have the power to fundamentally transform your business:
1. The Power of a Handshake
A handshake is much more than just a physical gesture. It’s a sign of trust, respect, and cooperation. When you shake someone’s hand, it means you are willing to work together for mutual benefit. This simple act imparts a sense of confidence and goodwill and can be the foundation for a strong business relationship—one that will weather any storm.
The handshake remains one of the most powerful business tools you have at your disposal.
2. Core Values (And How they Pay Back)
We can’t achieve great things without a clear purpose. Even so, the journey can take a thousand different paths. But if we don’t have a clear sense of why we do something, how can we expect others to rally around it?
When we know our “why,” everything else falls into place. “What” and “how” become easier to figure out once we know “why.” Simon Sinek’s often-quoted phrase sums up the importance of “why” perfectly: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”
The first part of Sinek’s quote is the part most people remember. Yet it’s the second part that ties into the driving force behind any remarkable business, person, or movement: Core values.
None of us make decisions based exclusively on logic. Emotions factor in. Does the other person feel good about doing business with us? Do they trust us? Do they feel like we have their best interests at heart?
These are the questions we must ask ourselves. The only way to answer them is to have a strong set of core values that guide everything we do. If our “why” is a beautiful and loving home that people love spending time in, our core values are the foundation on which it rests.
3. Hybrid, Remote, or In-Person? Look Within for Answers
I have personally seen the value in supporting flexible work environments. It doesn’t apply to everyone, though.
Remote, in-person, and hybrid deployments each come with their own hurdles.
I’m not in the position to dictate what works for other businesses. Doing so would take away your chance to learn from those within your organization who know it best. Why miss out on such a great learning opportunity?
Personally, I’d rather leverage well-informed internal insights than act on what worked for someone else. Data over dictation.
I will say that now is the time to experiment if you have the resources to do so. Source feedback from team members to make well-informed decisions.
Don’t be afraid to dig deep; are there compliance risks tied to going hybrid or fully remote due to your industry or application? What about security, permissions handling, and otherwise? Can these be addressed in a remote setup, or do you require an in-person office where file sharing, sensitive meetings, and other tasks can be done in a centralized location?
The Harvard Business Review poses important questions to ask that can be retooled to help determine the type of setup that would work best for you.
4. Find the Right Growth Pace for Your Business
We humans are impatient. We want things to happen quickly and efficiently, especially in our businesses. We want to see results, and we want to see them now. Often, the way we operate our businesses directly reflects this mindset.
The moral of the rabbit and the turtle’s tale remains relevant. The rabbit may have been faster, but the turtle won the race in the end. That being said, it won’t be the case for every business. Slow and steady growth isn’t the guaranteed ideal approach for all. Every business is unique.
The takeaway from that tale isn’t about speed, but rather healthy and sustainable growth. If you’re growing in a financially stable, sustainable manner and are happy with the pace, that’s great. The same applies if you’ve experienced more rapid growth than expected but have a happy, well-supported team and can handle it. Don’t fix what isn’t broken.
To find a pace that works for you, refer to an internal, financeable rate of growth, based on your cashflow and profit. Trust raw internal data and your team rather than the dictations of others.
I find the golf adage, “Drive for show, putt for dough” to be applicable. While we all want to grow our top-line revenue, what goes to the bottom line is more important. A 300-yard drive is wasted if it takes four puts to finish the hole.
5. Truly Take Care of Employees and Teams
Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This is especially true for businesses. A business is more than just a collection of individual employees. It’s a team, and each member plays an important role.
When you take care of your employees, you’re not just taking care of individuals, you’re taking care of the entire team. And when you take care of the team, you’re taking care of the whole business.
This sounds simple, but it’s not always easy to do. Here are a few tips to help you take care of your employees (and your business) in the best way possible:
1. Communicate regularly and openly.
2. Ensure everyone feels like they’re part of the team and that their contributions are valued.
3. Show employees that you care about them as people, not just workers.
4. Encourage a healthy work-life balance for all team members.
5. Invest in employees’ development and growth.
When you take care of your team, you’re investing in the future of your business. And that will pay off for years to come.
These “trends” may wax and wane in popularity, but they will never go out of fashion. These five practices (among others) will always hold true and be relevant in today’s business landscape. A business that’s meant to last will always be built atop a strong, stable foundation. Often, that has absolutely nothing to do with “trends.”
Contributed to EO by Erick Slabaugh, a long-standing member leader of EO Seattle and former director on the EO Global Board, who is a serial entrepreneur, board member and advisor. He serves as the CEO of Absco Solutions, a 40+ year market veteran in the facility security and fire-life safety industry, as well as CEO of FCP Insight, a cloud-based enterprise software solution for electrical contracting businesses. Erick recently shared 5 Timeless Principles of Entrepreneurial Success on EO’s Inc.com channel and Reflections on the Origin Story of EO Global Leadership Academy (GLA).