Running a Sustainable Business
More than ever to run a sustainable business is becoming more difficult than ever. A sustainable business isn’t one which means that we have managed to keep our doors open and make a few dollars. Instead, a sustainable business, especially one in the gift industry, needs to be about sustaining others as a matter of doing business. When we put people at the focus of a business, of giving to others, it changes the way we do things. It fosters a sense of appreciation for the people who make up our business – our suppliers, reps, staff and customers – and this appreciation is reciprocated by these people helping to maintain and increase the profitability of our business.
To a ‘T’ or To a ‘P’
The art of running a successful business, especially if you are gift retailer in these uncertain economic times becomes more critical to get right. Nobody is perfect, but the more we can focus on getting the three ‘P’s right, the greater chance of success we will have.
They say a business succeeds if you work on the three ‘P’s – Product, People and Passion. The right product is obvious, but the next two are just as critical – the people who make up your business – the people who work with you and those who buy from you and the passion that sustains it all. Get to know the team and community of people that make up your business, their lives and stories, and passion will follow.
The Power of Stories
Stories are powerful – they can warm our heart, they can inspire the best in us and propel us to do things that we never thought possible. Stories if you think about it, is information. Information is power. Information lifts us from the veil of ignorance and fear. Information can make the impossible become very possible.
What’s Your Story?
What is your story? Why did you get into the giving industry? How did you get into the giving industry? Our own stories can have a way of reigniting our passions when times are tough. Sometimes looking back to see who you were can help you to move forward. Is there stories that you can relate to your staff to inspire them?
The Carrot & Stick Approach
Some retailers use the Carrot and Stick approach to ‘motivate’ their staff. Yet it isn’t a very effective approach. Bribing your staff with incentives works only for a little time as human nature kicks in and bigger and bigger bribes are necessary to motivate staff. The stick approach, where you bully them into submission using fear and ignorance will soon see your staff leave.
Knowing Me & Knowing You
Instead, appreciating your staff is the best approach, and is about getting to know your staff and them to get to know you. I like to call it the ABBA way ‘knowing me and knowing you – aha! (had to chuck in a little bit of corniness somewhere). Stories are a great way to get to understand your staff and for them to get to know you. Take genuine interest in their lives, their aspirations and concerns – don’t just see them as paid slaves to do as you command under your watch. The greatest thing you can do that doesn’t cost you anything is to listen.
The Art of Appreciation
The art of appreciation is not a very difficult art to learn. In fact, it is part of our DNA. We all want to feel good, and simply by acknowledging others we begin to realise that being a leader is simply about inspiring others to bring out their best. Acknowledgement is but only one part of being a leader. Before one can lead, one needs to understand those that, as a business owner, we lead – our staff, suppliers and reps, and customers. Get to know your team. Be open to listening to them and understanding their history and be sensitive to pick up what’s is going on in your business and their lives. The art of tea appreciation is practised by many cultures, and certain rituals have grown around it’s making and serving. Can you create rituals of appreciation for your staff where you can get to know them and understand them?
In order to better get to know your staff, organising to meet for ‘tea’ or a meal at a regular time a few times a year is a great way to foster appreciation. Make it a ritual of appreciation and understanding. Appreciated staff will work much harder and produce much greater results than those who know they are just there to earn a wage and are not listened to. Appreciate your staff and watch your business appreciate.
Foster Customer Appreciation
Staff who know that they are being appreciated will go that extra mile to get to know the people they are serving – you and the customers who buy from your business. The more you can foster an appreciation of the people who buy from you the more that your bottom line will grow. Don’t we all love to be acknowledged when we go to a restaurant and the owner or staff know us by first name and know a little about us and our story?
Just as we may have an appertif before having a meal to stimulate our appetite, an appreciative is a low cost – high perceived value gift that your staff can give to your regular customers – this has a way of stimulating goodwill and more often their spending.
Be A People Person
To succeed in retail you need to be a ‘People Person’. A people person can integrate the three ‘P’s to create a business that thrives. If you aren’t a people person, and you aren’t willing to employ someone who is, retail may not be a good business for you.
Amanda is a great people person, but because she is busy running the entire Centre, she appointed Nicola. Take your time to hire the right person and it will make the difference to your bottom line. With a background in human resources and with a winning personality, not to mention a British accent, she was the perfect candidate to run the T-House. In fact, after meeting Nicole I commended Amanda on her choice. Nicole has treated the T-House as her own, working on perfecting every aspect of the tea service.
Charity Begins At Home
As a retailer in the gift industry you have a special opportunity to make a difference to the lives of many. How do you make your business a matter of human service? How do you make everything you do about people? It doesn’t mean all of a sudden you need to give away a big chunk of your profits to a charity, but instead how can you do it in a smaller, more manageable and sustainable ‘human’ way. They say that charity begins at home, and even if your business is struggling right now, you have the tool to transform your business right now – your heart. Your appreciation of your staff and customers, your time to listen and engage and inspire them will make you realise that when you work from the heart you have an army of people ready to assist you in creating a business that not only sustains your life but nourishes your soul. Make your business about people. Make it people friendly.
Heidi and I believe that we are some of the most selfish people in the world. We have a one pointed vision of making a difference. We gain much satisfaction in feeling good and smiling when we hear of the success of our retailers and the difference we are making to other people’s lives. We are in the GIVING industry and we know that the more we give the more we get back of life’s greatest reward – appreciation. In my books, that’s a mighty selfish thing.
As I sit here penning down these thoughts I look back at the journey of the past few months and the events that have led me to this moment and smile and how it all began with a story of a man who wanted to give and how he has subsequently changed the lives of so many and who’s reputation now proceeds him. In closing, this story is far from over. In a few weeks Merrill will be visiting Australia to inaugurate the T-House, the first concept Dilmah T-House in Australia, and Heidi and I look forward to meeting him.#appreciation #appreciatives #carrot and stick #Dilmah #Harbourside Markets #Merrill J Ferdinand #motivation #passion #people #product #Sri Lanka #t-house #tea appreciation #the power of stories