Getting a business off the ground takes a monumental effort, especially when you're a small business starting without investment or a team.
Anyone that's been through this knows just how much effort it takes.
On any given day, you're doing the jobs of about five different people (that you can't afford to pay yet). You'reYou're also getting paid less than ever before and have little to no security.
It can be a tough gig, but the vision business owners are working toward combined with the dislike of being stuck in a job make it more than worth it.
As any business grows, it will usually require a team of people. This should be a dream part of the journey for the small business owner: more people, more capacity, less stress, and more time off for the owner. In theory, this is exactly how it SHOULD be, but usually, this isn't exactly how it goes.
It'sIt's quite common that as a small business owner grows their team, they end up busier, more stressed and more stuck in their business than they were before!
Trying to keep employees motivated and engaged can feel like an uphill battle. You feel responsible for the physical and mental health of the team, and even if you don't, it's going to bite you if they suffer from it.
You don't know how they are feeling at any time. Who knows when someone will next unexpectedly hand in a resignation and leave you with all of that extra work and the costs of finding someone else.
And we thought getting a business started was tough!
Growing a team should be an enjoyable part of business growth. It's also an essential step in growing your business and freeing you up from it (My blog on the five stages of small business growth here). But we humans are complicated, which can create some challenges for business owners at this stage of business.
So let's take a look at the top 7 mistakes small business owners make that stop them from scaling effectively through their teams:
They Believe Money Is The Main Incentive
I'm not going to suggest that what you pay your employees isn't important. It is. But it's not THE most important thing. My first business was a gym. I grew a small team of four staff quite quickly but needed to do some work on our financial model. I didn't feel I was paying my team enough and knew I wouldn't be in a position to offer them pay rises for 8-12 months. I used to worry a lot about them leaving. About all the work I'd have to cover if they did as well as the time and money I'd have to spend to find someone else then train them up to standard.
The truth is all of this worry was for nothing. Sure my team would have appreciated pay rises, but that wasn't their main motivator.
They wanted to do meaningful work, be a part of a prestigious team, to learn from me and our processes. Most of what you need to keep your employees highly engaged and motivated is available in your business without cost. If you want to know more about employee motivators, check out my blog post here.
They Don't Regularly Survey Their People
Small business owners often haven't even considered surveying their people because the business is small, and they know each of their employees, so why would they?
Management consultant Peter Drucker famously said 40 years ago, 'what gets measured gets improved.'
It's not a recipe for success if the only method for keeping track of how engaged and healthy a team is in a business is through the owner's intuition. A good survey done at least every quarter provides valuable data into how engaged and healthy a team is. It also provides valuable data into how well the owner or management team is performing.
By analysing this data, business owners can spot issues early and invest time into areas that most need attention to keep employees healthy, happy and highly engaged. Many small business owners worry they don't know what to do to keep their staff happy; I suggest asking them is a free and easy starting point.
They Put The Business Ahead Of Their Personal Lives
We have already established starting and running a business is a unique, tough challenge. But a business owner putting their business above their personal lives on the priority list is a mistake. There will always be enough for the owner to work 24/7, 365 days a year in virtually any business. Of course, that's not possible. But what is possible and is also far too common is business owners working as much as is humanly possible at the expense of personal life and health. Small business owners are very passionate and very goal-driven. They need to be careful not to let that strength become a negative in their lives. To grow and lead a business, an owner needs clarity, an abundance of energy, patience, the ability to make decisions and get the most out of others. This isn't possible when they are unhealthy, overworked and burnt out. Business owners need to plan their personal lives and health first, then fit their businesses into the gaps. When business owners prioritise their health, they consistently grow their businesses. When business owners neglect their health to work more, things soon come to a grinding halt.
They avoid talking about or promoting health
Most business owners (outside of health and fitness professionals) didn't get into business to directly look after other peoples health. So once they have a team, it's often not a natural thing to talk about.
Our lifestyles and jobs are becoming increasingly unhealthy, bringing a whole host of national issues with them.
The impact of preventable poor health can be significant on a small business where one person can account for over 10% of the entire workforce. And it's widespread for people to attribute their jobs or business as a key contributor to poor physical or mental health.
Addressing this problem doesn't need to be complicated or expensive. It's far too common for businesses to be spending money on private health insurance and gym memberships but not have a culture that talks about and promotes health. It's like giving people cars before teaching them how to drive. Just setting aside one hour a month to talk about movement, nutrition, sleep, or stress control is enough to create a culture that prioritises health in the workplace.
They don't prioritise their employee experience
When an employee joins a business, they go through different stages of a journey; recruitment, onboarding, training, coaching, promotion. Their experience at each of these stages will directly influence how well they perform and how long they stick around.
Of course, businesses with productive employees who stick around outperform businesses where the opposite is true.
A small business owner is highly self-motivated and willing to graft more than most of the population. What they might fail to recognise is that most other people, including their employees, aren't wired that way.
It's important that a small business owner breaks down their employee experience into its constituent parts and applies some basic processes to each stage. This makes life better for the business owner and the employees, ultimately improving business performance. However, when small business owners neglect this with the false belief that people are similarly motivated to them, motivation and retention levels suffer.
They don't delegate
"My clients want to work with me."
"I can't train people to do the job as well as me."
'It's quicker just to do it myself."
These three statements plague most service-based small business owners. The problem with buying into these statements is they will always limit the growth and enjoyment of a business by bottlenecking it at the owner. Small business owners aren't created to deliver an excellent service for the rest of their lives. If they were, they wouldn't be business owners; They would-be employees. Small business owners are created to see the way things can be done better and provide that service to as many clients as possible. The only way they can do that is by refining processes and delegating roles. They are often very hard working with very high standards, which means it can feel like a struggle to delegate. But it's a struggle that will pay off, a necessary struggle. The alternative is they work too hard for too long; they spread themselves too thin and limit the number of people their service can reach.
In response to those three statements
"My clients just want to work with me".
They like working with you, but what they want is the solution you provide.
"I can't train people to do the job as well as me". Train them to do the job 80% as well as you. Three people doing your job 80% as well as you is 140% more capacity than just you.
"It's quicker just to do it myself".
Doing everything yourself is limiting your time, the growth of your business and your personal life.
They try to grow their business on their own
Nobody gives a business owner the handbook to running a business. I've served two tours in Afghanistan with the British Army and worked on deep-sea shark fishing boats off the south coast of Australia. But, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I can say that figuring out how to start up and run businesses was more challenging. Business owners can think they've got it all figured out. Their business is growing, and so is their team. Then it begins to dawn on them that not only do they have to look after the business, but they also have to figure out how to look after and get the most out of their team too. There's another 1001 jobs and decisions added to the list. A business owner CAN figure out a lot of this stuff on their own and often feel like that's what they need to do. But when a business owner spends too much time outside of their strengths, it drains that essential entrepreneurial battery. So as soon as a business owner can get support in the areas they are not strong, they should. Whether that be through an awesome team member or an external agency like Better Happy is irrelevant. What's important is they offload or get help with what they're not naturally strong at so they can spend more time doing what they love.
The top 7 Mistakes Summary
1 - They Believe Money Is The Main Incentive
2 - They Don't Regularly Survey Their People
3 - They Put The Business Ahead Of Their Personal Lives
4 - They avoid talking about or promoting health
5 - They don't prioritise their employee experience
6 - They don't delegate
7 - They try to grow their business on their own
How well is your business set up to scale through healthy, happy high performing people? Find out in less than five minutes for free with our scorecard below:
About Mike: Mike believes that a structured pathway to health and happiness is the solution to individual, business and global challenges. Mike was never made to feel good in the schooling system, experienced poor management in military and burn out in his first business. Seeing these problems were widespread Mike Co-Founded Better Happy to help other business owners and employees achieve their visions faster with health and happiness.