Working “on our business” not “in our business” is a constant challenge for the small business owner (SBO) – yours truly included and maybe more guilty than most. This year, 2020, was the start of a new decade, and the start of the second half of our first decade – so we felt it was apropos to make a concerted effort to revisit much of what makes us – well, us. Fresh after the New Year we started a process of internal alignment and trying to deliberately build our culture. We always knew that certain elements – client service, growth, and accountability were incredibly important aspects of our model – but what we didn’t know, was how to translate those beliefs into shared actions – which are the heart of a company’s culture. I look forward to sharing some of this journey with you… to start with, but a bit out of order (at least the order we took)… we just had a rousing company meeting where we were able to dive deep into our company core values. Your company core values should serve as a small set of vital and timeless guiding principles – they should define your culture and who you truly are as people. When they are clear, applied and lived by, you can build a thriving culture around them. Here is what I shared with the team.
The SBA reports that 1/3rd of business fail within the first 2 years and over half fail within their first 5 and by year 10, 2/3rds of those hopeful companies are gone! Who knew that when we crossed year 5, we would immediately enter a pandemic, if that is not a stiff headwind, I don’t know what is! As we looked to establish our response and how we would navigate our business moving forward – we made a decision, a pretty important decision, that I think you will all be happy with… and that is to come out stronger! A strong vision, with strong values, with strong people will yield strong results!
Our number one measure of strength will not be a number – but rather it will be measure by how pleased we are with our own efforts’ day in and day out. If we “come to work” with the right attitude and effort, everyone working together, toward the same vision and goals, that will yield amazing results – beyond what even Accountants can measure.
So, how is it done? Well, character counts or as Heraclitus put it: “Character is Fate” (Greek philosopher, lived in Asian minor (basically Turkey) under Persian rule – he was pre-Socratic – about 500 BCE). When seeking to advance “our” position in life, character is the best lever. Perhaps not in the short run, but certainly in the long run, and every time! One way to ensure this is to hold ourselves, our team, and our clients – the people we choose to surround ourselves with – to our standards. Living our Core Values is our character:
The Experience is the #1 Thing
Grow or Die
Do Your Job
These need to be more than just words. They need to be the life and breath of us here at SPM&Co. These words describe what makes us tick, what drives our passion, what is at our core, the heart of SPM&Co – the heart of us. Businesses will choose to work with us because of our character, and as our reputation grows so will our results.
Ensuring the Experience is the #1 Thing is paramount. For both our team and our clients. For ourselves – being a special place to work, working together for a great purpose of taking exceptional care of our clients. For our clients – being humbly confident and delivering great results, plans, strategy, and imparting that special feeling, of being #1 – well you can’t beat that! Putting reputation first. Reputation outweighs profit every time and reputation will turn the flywheel.
Grow or Die is where our Forward Focused mindset is most on display. We pride ourselves on being forward-focused thinkers and drivers of innovation in the small business tax planning and advisory fields. We stay current in trends and variances that will affect our clientele and continue to educate ourselves in better practices and technological advances every day so we can ensure we are the best resources for our business community. Individual growth and company growth must coexist, and both are heavily reliant on a consistent willingness to the betterment of one’s self and the team as a whole. This betterment comes from steady education of new or advanced strategies, technologies, and trends in the field. This also means sharing this knowledge with the team to expand our client service capabilities. We don’t have room for stagnation.
Help First, a nice saying but, what does it mean? It’s all about service. How can we serve our clients and fellow team members? This directly helps drive the experience is the #1 thing. You can get what you want by helping others get what they way want. Willingness to go the extra mile and help a team member to feel secure and confident will not only aid in workload and the division of work but will also create a solid front for any oncoming team members as well as new clients. We should always be able to turn to one another for support.
Do Your Job – Accountability and commitment – ‘nuff said! The bedrock of getting things done. We responded with Yes. We work as a team. We have each other’s backs. We go the extra mile for our clients. All in the name of doing our job. We give 110% percent (11/10, get it, Accountant joke, who wants a T-Shirt) – it becomes commonplace, just the way we are wired. Every day we should exemplify the highest form of professionalism and expertise consistently looking for ways to progress in the field. We all serve a valuable purpose and our individual responsibilities directly affect the day to day success of the business. We must hold ourselves and each other accountable so that we see a positive trend in the culture and business overall.
Leadership at all levels – that’s what building a team on characteristics of a true leader is after. Instead of working for accolades and promotions, we work for the betterment of the team. We bring a fresh perspective, innovative solutions, and advancement opportunities to the table and always look for the next thing to better our culture and business products. We all lead intentionally and directly, keeping our overall goal at the foresight of our daily practices.
Something that you should notice about these “words” is that they’re virtues that we can’t teach in a class or train you on; they are part of what makes us up – they need to be part of our company culture, part of our collective DNA. It’s your core, these are your core values, and it’s what drives us to make a difference every day. One thing is for sure: People with these virtues are the ones we want to be a part of our team, our family. Continuing to be committed to finding the right people will be one of the keys to taking SPM&Co to the next level. Identifying what makes us tick is important because it lays the groundwork for who we are, where are we going, how are we going to get there, and when. We are on a path that will take us to places we have never been before, and accomplish things we have not achieved before. We are on a path that will send us and drive us to wherever we want to go. It is a very exciting time at SPM&Co. I am so glad that each of you is a part of it.
It was exciting for me to deliver this message and rally our team. Moving through a year with so much uncertainty, it’s motivating and comforting to revisit our core values so moving forward, we can be aligned and promote the company’s success as well as our client’s success.