Small Business and Startups: Management for the Joy Of It

Business owners and managers tend to focus on business. This is right and this is good; it is our responsibility to our stakeholders to responsibly lead our companies towards success and to prioritize operations and profitability. We work hard every day to improve efficiency, acquire customers, increase margins, analyze results, craft strategy, execute tactics, and track growth. What we don’t always work so hard at is improving ourselves, supporting our team, and making our companies forces for growing good.

As leaders there is much we can do to set an example and to be a guide for others. But it must first start with ourselves; strong managers must develop the ability to self-reflect; to provide a kind of internal feedback to ourselves, much like we provide feedback to our employees. And just like periodic performance reviews can go far towards developing talented workers, internal reviews can help managers to be better at what they do and to continuously develop themselves into better leaders, better strategists, and better employers. And, as a result we will have better companies, more loyal customers, and a competitive edge in building and retaining the strongest of teams.

One of the most important thing we can do is to look for ways to manage our businesses for the simple joy of it – to bring with us every day a sense of fun, adventure, and shared responsibility to the people around us. Make “fun” a central element of your mission and work to infuse your team with the sensibility. Learn from one another, enjoy one another, and recruit not just for experience and capability (though those must always be at the top of any list) but also for strong cultural fit and ephemeral qualities like a sense of humor, an interest in teaching, an affinity for learning, and an awareness of self and willingness to become the best person they can.

Every person among us has the capacity to improve as a worker, as a team member, and as a human being and it starts with a growing awareness of your own weaknesses and the will to improve. If you have a tendency (as I do) towards displays of temper, watch for the signs and consciously find ways to mitigate your anger. If you are a person who tends to think first of self and afterwards of others, work hard to minimize that inclination by helping others at every opportunity and encouraging the people around you to do the same.

Team building starts at the top – build yourself into a better person and you can be a more effective manager. Encourage growth in your team members and you will see increased loyalty, faster development, improved productivity, and smarter decision-making. It’s thought that Benjamin Franklin said, “Do well by doing good” and this is an apt quote; by focusing on the positive influence that you can have on the world and the people around you, your business can become more focused and more constructive. Look for ways every day that can increase your mission of purpose and fun, and smile that smile of satisfaction that you have done well by doing good.

Portrait of Benjamin Franklin, by Joseph Duplessis/Wikipedia