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2017

A few years ago, a large franchise association conducted a survey of its franchisees to find out what separated the best from the rest.

 

Was it advertising, marketing, location? No, no, and no. The missing piece is you.Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

 

It goes without saying that there are many factors that contribute to a business’s overall success. Having loyal customers, standing out among the crowd, budgeting wisely and great customer service all come into play. However, there is one factor in particular that is as important as it is overlooked and undervalued, and it is the one that the franchise survey revealed:

 

The most important factor in creating a great small business? Being a good boss.

 

Yep, that’s right. The common denominator between the franchises where profit was solid and consistent, where employees were happy and devoted, and where customers were plentiful and consistent was the quality of the boss. Great bosses create great businesses and bad bosses create, if not bad, at least mediocre ones.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

What this means will probably vary somewhat from business to business and from boss to boss – after all, everyone has different values, visions, and personalities. Just know that the type of boss you are makes a material and lasting difference in the overall success of your business.

 

Think about it. Bosses that manage in a way that is inclusive, friendly, open, and fun (but not too fun!) will most certainly have a happier staff. And, typically, happier employees make for happier customers and happy customers mean a happy boss. It all comes full circle:

 

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Happy boss = happy employees = happy customers = happy boss.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: IS YOUR CUSTOMER TELLING YOU WHAT THEY REALLY WANT?

 

So how can you become the best boss possible and build that happy workforce? In short, it comes down to creating a great work environment, fostering a positive culture, and doing the little things.

 

For starters, it is important to realize that studies have shown that a more relaxed work environment is very closely associated with a positive culture. Micromanaging is out. Trust is in. Respect matters. Similarly, a more relaxed work environment lessens an employee’s fear of making mistakes, and that in turn can allow people to take risks, innovate and test out new ideas.

 

And yet, while creating an environment where employees feel relaxed is one of the most important things you can do as their boss, it is not the only thing; indeed sometimes, it really is the little things that count even more.

 

Employees, just like anyone, want to feel valued and appreciated.  Simple things like giving someone recognition when they have done outstanding work can be just the incentive someone needs. Offering bonuses when warranted doesn’t hurt either. People like to feel noticed and appreciated; honoring that need is vital in creating a positive, extraordinary work environment.

 

A famous example of a big company that gets it is Google. Google’s philosophy is “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world.” The Google offices typically include a lot of little perks that add up to one big, positive culture:

 

  • Outdoor work areas

  • Complementary food and beverage

  • Private study rooms

  • Team activities, personally designed desks, and more.

 

Of course, small businesses do not have the budget that Google does, but the guiding principle can still be emulated in any office. Creating a workplace where employees feel valued and nurtured, where they are respected and listened to, a place where it is fun and creative to work, and where little things are done to show them they count is what makes a difference.

 

Quick Tips to Start Building a Great Culture for a Small Business:

 

1. Hire the right attitude for your business. It all starts in the beginning. A bad hire can dampen the mood and rub off on other employees. Make sure the person is the right fit for your company. For example, you wouldn’t want an unfriendly person working at a family-oriented restaurant.

2. Meet with your employees. This is a great way to build relationships and to give feedback on their performance, but remember to focus on their strengths rather than their weaknesses.

3. Have fun outside the office. As a small business owner, you might not have the budget to spend a day golfing, but you can host a summer picnic or other budget-friendly activities. This gives employees the opportunity to foster relationships with you and each other. People like working with people they like.

 

Employee retention matters. And you don’t have to Google that to know it’s a fact.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngTech companies are well-known for offering some of the best employee benefit plans. Why? Because they know that to attract and retain the best and the brightest, they need to be a place where people want to work.

 

Take Facebook for instance. The number of benefits offered by the social media giant is too long to list here, but the highlights include:

 

  • Financial: Pension and retirement plans; performance bonuses; stock options, charitable gift matching.
  • Insurance: Full health (including vision and dental); life and disability insurance; mental health; on-site healthcare.
  • Family: Flex-time; maternity and paternity leave; onsite childcare.
  • Vacation: Paid vacation; volunteer time off; sabbaticals.
  • Other perks: Free food; gym memberships; pet friendly; tuition assistance.

 

Fairly amazing, right?

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

That said, of course we all know that owning a small business means operating under a tight budget, but what we don’t all know is providing a solid benefits package to your staff does not have to break the bank.

 

You may not be able to afford all the perks Facebook does, however you can probably offer more than you think.

 

At face value, it is certainly easier – and less expensive – to simply give your employees their regular paycheck and required worker’s comp insurance, but the truth is that providing benefits to your employees doesn’t cost, it pays.

 

There are plenty of advantages that come with providing extra benefits:

 

  • Good morale – Doing more than the bare minimum for your hardworking staff is a great and easy way to establish mutual trust and respect. This makes for motivated employees who feel incentivized, thus producing higher quality work.
  • Staff retention – A result of the above also means a lower turnover rate and fewer hours and resources spent on training. In turn, you will get more experienced and trustworthy staff; all of which creates a very positive corporate culture.
  • Healthy employees – Giving your staff health insurance and vacation days will keep their bodies moving and their minds clear.
  • Top talent – Smart, capable, motivated people usually won’t settle for a company that doesn’t provide them with added benefits.

 

45872722_s.jpgRELATED ARTICLES: SMALL BUSINESS RANSOMWARE ATTACKS. HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

According to a National Federation of Independent Business poll, health insurance (61 percent), paid vacation (75 percent), and paid sick days (59 percent) are the most common employee benefits offered by small businesses. It is the extra things you offer that often make the biggest difference (and again, they do not need to cost a lot). Here are some examples:

 

Wellness programs: Things like gym access and incentivized fitness programs are very desirable, and as an added bonus, can help reduce your healthcare premiums.

 

Supplemental insurance: Life insurance, for example, is very affordable and a nice perk.

 

Flex-time: Allowing your team to job share for instance, or simply to work when and where they want, is an easy way to be a great employer.

 

Employee discounts: Being able to purchase your company’s product or service at a discount is another desirable bonus; employees will appreciate feeling like a valued member of the team with privileges.

 

Commuting help: Having access to a free parking spot can be very important for a lot of people. By the same token, being bike friendly is becoming more and more popular (and easy to do).

 

Family friendly: Speaking of being friendly, creating a pet-friendly workplace, or one where the kids are welcome to visit, is an easy way to endear yourself to your staff. By the same token, maternity and paternity leave (even unpaid) is a pretty easy way to up your benefits package.

 

Time off: Taking another cue from the Facebook employee benefits playbook, what about offering people time off to volunteer, or building in some three-day weekends into your scheduling?

 

The bottom line: Small businesses need to do whatever they can to attract and retain top talent. Being employee friendly by offering a great benefits package is a critical component to a successful business.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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