Small businesses have a big learning curve when it comes to keeping up with the competition. Not only do you have to stay informed about what is going on in your industry, but if you don’t become more progressive and keep up with the latest tech and business trends, you are certain to fall behind.
However, change can be a frightening thing. Perhaps your business is a couple of generations old, and you’ve always done things a certain way. Maybe you’ve seen other businesses try new things and fail. Overcoming that fear is not easy, but without change, operations can grow stagnant. Knowing this should be enough to push you to make at least a few changes in the overall culture and management of your business.
There are many reasons your small business should be more progressive, but here are seven to consider.
1. Attract Great Employees
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If you want to attract the best and the brightest employees, then you need to offer something that other companies in the don’t area offer. Each time a company loses an employee, it can cost as much as 213 percent of that person’s salary to replace the position. It pays to consider how you can keep the best employees that you currently have and attract equally great candidates to fill open positions.
When you run a progressive company culture with the latest tech and an understanding of what younger workers desire, you make your company more attractive than the competition. Attracting and keeping the best employees can give you an edge over that competition, too. Those people will have cutting-edge ideas they can bring to the table.
2. Improve Employee Health
Providing an environment that is less stressful is one way to improve the overall health of your employees. Imagine how much money your company could save if everyone reduced their sick time. When people feel better, they work together better as a team and are less grumpy. Not to mention all the lost momentum on big projects when employees are out.
Some companies provide a discount on insurance premiums if employees stay below a certain body mass index (BMI), or offer other incentives for healthier lifestyle choices. Other options include providing an on-site free gym or encouraging employees to take on healthy lifestyle options, such as a walking club at lunchtime.
Probably one of the best-known companies for offering perks to their employees is Google. Their company culture is wide open to suggestions from employees, but they also put the health of their employees first. Creating a culture like this naturally leads to a healthier work environment — one that encourages employees to exercise and even visit places to de-stress on campus. Employees can take advantage of onsite wellness services such as chiropractors and massage services, bring their dogs to work and grab a free snack from the micro kitchen.
While your small business might not be able to offer all the perks that a giant like Google does, you can take a step back and figure out small but impactful ways to help your employees overcome stress and live healthier lives.
3. Cutting Edge Technology
Making sure your technology stays up-to-date improves processes and allows your company to focus on growth. There are many ways to incorporate technology into your small business. Brick-and-mortar stores might consider upgrading their point-of-sale systems, for example. Other types of businesses might try utilizing computer technology for tasks like remote work.
“We have always tried to keep pace with changing technology,” says Carl Brewer, Chief Operating Officer of FDM4, an apparel ERP company. “We look at technology as a race with no finish line, and to us, modernization isn’t a one-time project; it’s an ongoing commitment.”
Making technology development an ongoing goal, rather than a one-time investment, is good business sense. Keep in mind that making these types of changes may take place faster or slower than the norm, depending on your industry.
4. Progressive Policies
You’ve likely heard people cite that many countries allow for paid maternity and family medical leave. More and more businesses are offering options like these for employees having or adopting children, or who need time off to care for an ill family member. While paying for 12 weeks of leave might be financially questionable for some small businesses, there are other policies you can implement that will allow your employees to take time off when needed but still live comfortably.
Examine how much time your company can afford to pay for without it being too much of a financial burden overall. Is there a way to allow an employee to work remotely or part-time for a bit? Take the time now to review your policies and see what you can implement on behalf of your employees. Don’t be afraid to try creative policies, such as time sharing, where employees share a job each working part of the day.
5. Knowing When to Embrace a Trend
Trends tend to come and go. What society thinks is a great idea today may not look so good in practice next week. The technology that is the “it” factor this week may be defunct in two months. Knowing when to embrace a new trend and make changes in your company isn’t always easy.
The very first thing you should do before adopting new technology or changing company policies is weigh the idea against your overall goals and philosophy as a company. Does the idea line up with who you are at your core?
Next, figure out what the drawbacks to that trend might be and if it is worth implementing or not. Consider what the costs are of adopting the policy are, versus the costs of choosing to wait.
Netflix is a great example of a company that embraced big technological change and likely saved their business model. In the past, Netflix offered packages where they sent movies via snail mail to subscribers each month. However, as technology changed, movies were suddenly available for streaming.
People weren’t likely to wait around for days to get a DVD when they could instantly stream a movie via the Internet. Netflix had to rapidly change the way they delivered movies or risk annihilation by the competition.
6. Get Smart
Depending on where your company is located, you might be headquartered in a city that is embracing the smart city movement. This simply means that technology is at everyone’s fingertips and all the processes in the city are tracked on computers and adapted to present the best experience possible to the people who live there.
Even if your company is headquartered outside of a smart city, you can still embrace the changes in technology and prepare your company and employees for the future. Installing features such as smart lights in bathrooms can also save your company money on utility costs. The lights only come on when they sense motion and shut back off after the employee has left the room.
7. Better Teamwork
A company culture where everyone feels valued and as though they have a voice is one where all employees have the greatest chance of performing at their best. This creates an atmosphere where employees aren’t afraid to share their ideas, which leads to better teamwork and output.
Create healthy relationships between employees by taking time out for teambuilding exercises. Make the company culture one that encourages idea sharing from the top down. Remember that the leaders in the company set the example here. Are good ideas rewarded and any idea appreciated? A truly progressive company welcomes input.
Many different factors come together to create a more progressive company culture. By encouraging an attitude of change and openness, however, you also allow employees the freedom to try out untested ideas, and potentially push your company’s capabilities far beyond those of the competition!