Small businesses are often seen as a large part of the structure of the American economy. They fill in the gaps by creating personalized products or services within communities or even digitally. But what is the backbone of any successful small business? The employees.
A small business can live or die based solely on the performance of, or engagement of, its employees. A large business has many people available to meet goals or pick up any slack necessary. Much more responsibility and thoughtfulness fall to the small business employee simply because there are not as many heads under its proverbial roof. This leads to the question, who or what are the most important employees needed in a small business? 10 different business owners and CEOs have helped answer this question.
The team player
This one may seem incredibly obvious but that goes to show just how important a person like this can be. A quality team player not only accomplishes the tasks assigned to them, but they also go above and beyond to help others on their team or within the business.
“Whenever I’ve hired someone who was or became a team player, my life became easier,” said Judy Nural, the president and founder of MicrodermaMitt, a company specializing in traditional Turkish exfoliation. “If I needed a unique task accomplished or knew of another employee who required assistance on a project, my team player has been the first person I’ve turned to. I know I can count on them and that they will be productive.”
The personable one
From the perspective of the customer, one of the biggest draws of utilizing a small business is the personal experience that comes with it. People want to feel both important and cared for, especially when a product or service is being marketed to them. No one wants to feel like a number in a crowd or a walking credit card. An employee who can engage with and understand the customer on a personal level will make a world of difference within any small business.
“One of our top goals as a small business is customer satisfaction. I’ve found that an effective way to meet this goal is by employing people who are personable. A personal conversation or friendly smile can make a world of difference, especially in a digital age,” said Omid Semino, the CEO and founder of Diamond Mansion, a small business offering high-quality jewelry.
The personnel of a small business are a team, not an army. Therefore, it stands to reason that any good team needs a good coach. Any quality coach will positively demonstrate new tasks or concepts to fellow employees with the goal of raising them up to achieve more. Not only will this allow your business to accomplish more, but it will also promote team comradery.
“The world that small businesses exist in is constantly changing and evolving. This means that employees must keep up with new trends or ideas,” said Dylan Fox, the founder and CEO of AssemblyAI, a company focused on text-to-speech technology. “Having someone on your team who willingly takes the time to teach fellow employees about any number of industry topics allows for effective and efficient training and productivity.”
As stated previously, the world of small business is constantly evolving. New things are on the horizon at every turn. Every team needs someone who is willing to meet these challenges head-on while exposing themselves to new knowledge, excitement, and the risk of failure.
“Small businesses need at least one person who is unafraid of failing at something new. One person who will look at a challenging and novel task and say, ‘I can learn enough to get that moving,’” said Joaquin Roco, the co-founder and CEO of Minerva, a how-to knowledge platform. “As a small business you can’t have an expert in every field, so you’re going to need folks who will challenge themselves to learn and do something that is good enough in the face of uncertainty.”
A conduit is an object which conveys another object or substance. In the case of a small business, the object being conveyed is information. Regardless of whether this takes place digitally or in-person, being able to relay information accurately and articulately to clients, customers, or potential customers can give any small business a leg up.
“There are ideas or businesses out there which have the potential to be groundbreaking. However, if those things cannot be properly communicated to the correct demographic, then it’s as if the idea was never thought of in the first place. Clarity and concision of information from a company is an absolute necessity,” said Jae Pak, founder of Jae Pak MD Medical, a company specializing in hair restoration.
In any small business, it’s important for your team to be on the same page about goals or endeavors. This does not mean that a small business should be made up of “yes-men.” No small business is perfect. There will be bad ideas from time to time. If the culture of a small business can include the option for healthy pushback, it will prove beneficial.
“Running a business is challenging, and it’s important to have uplifting people in your corner cheering everyone on. You should also be careful to not surround yourself with only “yes men.” Every business owner needs an employee who will challenge them. Not every idea is a good idea, and that needs to be said,” said Jean Gregoire, the founder and CEO of lovebox, a messaging device company.
The problem solver
A very simple fact of any small business is that things will go wrong and there will be problems that need solving. Some people recoil in the face of catastrophe while others rise to the challenge and thrive. The latter is a person who will elevate a small business and make the best of any negative situation. It is possible they turn the negative into a positive.
“Having someone on your team who can not only identify a problem but also present potential solutions eases tension in any workplace,” said Jason Boehle, the CEO of QuaGrowth, an email marketing agency. “These types of people are good with others during times of stress while also maintaining a mindset of equality and reasonability. On top of this, they have a knack for finding unique solutions that may not be obvious at first glance.”
An employee who can bring light to an otherwise dark situation pair well with the problem solver. Every so often, plans will not come to fruition and bad luck will befall a small business. This can do a number on the overall morale of a team. Someone who can encourage, emotionally boost, and inspire a distressed group of employees will prove to be a wonderful asset.
“A demotivated group of employees tends to lack productivity. There are a variety of reasons that a team may find themselves in this state. Having a team member whose personality or qualities lifts the spirits of those around them is a game-changer. If there is a small business equivalent of gasoline on a fire, this person is that,” said Tyler Read, the founder and senior editor of Personal Trainer Pioneer, a company specializing in advice and resources for aspiring personal trainers.
Original and forward-thinking ideas are how small businesses can set themselves apart from the competition. However, these are not ideas that grow on trees. It takes a special person to conjure them up. This person is an innovator and a risk-taker who simultaneously holds the attention of their audience with ideas that seem breathtakingly fresh. That is not to say this person is a daydreamer. They are also trustworthy and determined.
“Foresight and innovation are two key qualities that can make any small business to the next level. If a member of your team, or potential hire, demonstrates the ability to accurately visualize the future of the industry or business they may prove to be a valuable commodity worth taking special interest in,” said Seb Evans, co-founder of Banquist, a company which offers cooking experiences from the world’s best chefs.
As a small business grows, there are many more gears in motion across a variety of ventures. While a new business may only need the leadership of its founder or CEO, there comes a time when teams or tasks must be delegated to trustworthy employees. These people must exhibit the ability to guide others while making quality decisions that positively impact the internal and external goals of the business.
“A good leader in any area can feel irreplaceable. Not only does this person focus on improvement and productivity within themselves, but they also have an equal and similar focus on the other members of the team,” said Matt Miller, CEO of Embroker, a business insurance company. “When a person has a high level of awareness for themselves and others simultaneously it allows much more to be accomplished by all parties.”
Running a successful small business will never be an easy undertaking. In fact, it will likely be the opposite. There are numerous hurdles and variables that may cause difficulties. One of the key goals when operating a business is to continually position yourself to have high odds of success. Surrounding yourself with high-quality and impactful employees will surely make your business endeavors far more manageable and likely to succeed.
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