Business grows when you employ smart people

score Question:
What do you consider the most important thing I can do to grow my business?

The most important thing you can do for your business is hiring smart people. This is where most managers fail - they hire people who will not challenge them. By hiring the individual who has more knowledge in your area or in other areas of expertise, you expand the opportunities for your business many fold.

The prospective hire should want your job, and that's good, for it means you'll be promoted to some area of the company with more responsibility.

Hire the individual who has a lot of passion for what they want to do and has the intelligence to go with that passion. The second thing you need to provide for that employee is a way to share in the long-term growth of the company. By doing this, the employee has a long-term goal to make your company successful.

When you have smart people working for you, you need to keep them stimulated and engaged toward your long-term goals, and it's easier if they have that potential gain.

Keep your management style flexible. This provides latitude for smart employees to use their skills in accomplishing your joint goals. This may present some problems for you, but remember, problems also provide opportunities. Just make sure you handle them so that it's a win-win situation.

Bill Gates seems to do this well. What he says helps him in working in this manner is bridge. "I'm a passable bridge player and enjoy studying how other people play and understanding their strategy," he said. "Bridge is all about great partnerships, developing a reasonable and achievable strategy, anticipating what the opponents are going to do and being ready to respond to the unexpected."

Operating a good business with talented people is no different than Gates' strategy for bridge playing. Your ability to gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose, and it sure becomes easier with smart people working with you.

Don't stop there. It also requires that you are vigilant about the quality of product and service you provide, plus the company image presented to the client or prospective client.

This is no easy task, so keep close contact with your customers and accept their input to help ease the way. Maybe your goal should be to develop a world-class information system to include data about competitors, customers' likes and dislikes, market changes, industry innovations and technology improvements to help ensure success. Some questions you may want answers to:

  • What do customers think about our products?
  • What problems do they want fixed?
  • What features do they want added?
  • How are they emerging technologies affecting our products?
  • Will this force our company to develop new capabilities?
  • Where and how does the competition win business from us?
Nothing will benefit your company more than smart employees, excellent products, good service and a great customer information chain working smoothly together to produce money in the bank for your firm. Do not resist the change that may come about with this partnership. Remember to communicate with all parties - it's the life blood of your organization.

Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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