With SustainAbility turning ten this month, the business has certainly been on quite the journey since starting out in 2008. Over the coming months, we’ll be writing a series of blogs in celebration of reaching this milestone. In part one, I reflect on my decade with SustainAbility and the ten key lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1. Go into business with people who share your fundamental values.
Whilst this is vital, you also want people who bring skills to the party that complement, rather than replicate, your own.
2. Make those core values your primary focus when hiring.
Concentrating on the important things will help you find people that are the right fit and have potential. Experience is valuable, but technical skills can be learned (and experience gained) on the job, too.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
It might be a cliché, but it still rings true. Worrying about only the things you can control will save a lot of unnecessary stress in the long run.
4. Don’t diversify or set up interstate/international for the sake of it.
I’ve seen a lot of companies take their eye off the ball by jumping all over the place, but this often just stretches their expertise too thin. Only do it if you have the right people in place who
have the local market knowledge, expertise and contacts in that domain. When moving into a new market it’s really important to have people who are truly invested in the business that will treat it as their own.
5. Recognise what you’re good at, and then stick to it.
Focus on your strengths – you can always outsource or bring in others to do the rest. With that, don’t forget to invest in a top lawyer and accountant. We know many good sales people who have tried to do it all in-house and it has backfired spectacularly!
6. Take your job seriously (but not yourself).
Of course, it’s critical to present a professional image when externally-facing. However, you still need to have fun along the way! Enjoy the journey and create a positive environment where everyone enjoys coming along to work.
7. Clients are candidates and candidates are clients – they’re all our customers!
They’re the same people, just at different stages of their careers. Look after junior candidates – they are our future leaders. We have seen many instances where the people we have placed years ago are now clients of ours because of the relationships that were built.
8. Learn to delegate.
It can be difficult to let go, especially if you started off doing everything yourself. But for your business to grow, learning to delegate and allowing people to make mistakes on their own is key. Trust those you work with to do the job well. After all, you hired them for a reason!
9. Understand individuals’ training and development needs.
Be proactive in this area and pay attention to individual ambitions early. Don’t wait until there’s a gap in your team or your staff have one foot out the door to start training. Try not to assume everyone wants the same thing, either – everyone has differing needs!
10. Celebrate success.
Share the achievements and reward the team for a job well done. At SustainAbility, we view it as a team effort. This is why – if annual team targets are met – then the whole company is rewarded. This year, we went to Queenstown!
Do you have any lessons to add to this list? Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!