Mistakes I Made #21 – Hang in There. Getting the Right Culture

The Shaky Start

Like millions before me, I started my own business a few years ago. I didn’t really know what I was doing, nor did I have any idea how much work this was going to take. I did however have a flaming desire to prove myself and not succumb to be a slave to someone else’s success. To say it was a shaky start is an understatement.

Fortunately, I was able to learn a lot from my mistakes and felt it a great idea to share some nuggets of wisdom with you, because any business man or woman needs to pay it forward. If we coach, mentor and grow the people around us, we cultivate communities and industries that will be more relevant and more sustainable. So here goes.

I recently had the opportunity to listen to an inspirational story by one Mark Bennett, founder and CEO of Sirius resources, a WA exploration miner who “found the big one” back in 2013. He shared his professional and personal journey with the audience in an attempt to impart some wisdom.

It made me think of my own journey, the challenges, the nights of lying awake strategizing my next move for success and the luck that has so much to do with it sometimes. The fear of the unknown and the known is something that often prohibits me from taking that next leap.

The ideas and then the funding thereof is another thing I sometimes use as an excuse not to take the plunge. I also remember my first employee and the uncertainty about the relationship, asking myself if this will work. I asked myself if this individual will share my goals and visions?

There are a lot of questions when you start up a business and a lot of challenges about the unknown challenges you are sure to come across as well. But the trick is to stick it out. To hang in there and fight the good fight till every challenge disappears and you struck the big one.

Mistakes and Learnings That Grew My Business

As I listened to his initial timelines of make it or give it up, I realised that my first problem was to do with my own timelines and eagerness to succeed. The pure hunger of success blindsided me with short term goals instead of long term achievements.

The very same hunger that drove me to sleepless nights was in actual fact my impediment. I needed to remain focused on what I was dealing with now but not on the big picture. It dawned on me that I need to be more strategic and have a more incremental growth than a sudden growth. I needed to explore different avenues of revenues and diversify my products to ensure stability while growing. I was overexposed, over specialised and running the risk of not being relevant or able to absorb downturns.

The big one is always out there but the time must be right for you to catch the big one. Your business culture must also be established and the ones that does not share your ideas and culture must consider another team. I think out of all of them, people management and or development is the hardest and most valuable lessons I have learned.

If you had to look at all the successful people in history, Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela and Mother Theresa, none of them had it easy. They all have stories of trial and error, and will attest that it was the defining thing that made them strong. So, I thought, why not me too?

The Right Culture

As Marks story unfolds and he gets into culture his success is evident. His company Culture. People working for his company have a sense of belonging, they associate to the brand and buy into the mission, vision and values.

Mark believes Sirius’s success stems from a team “all running the same way” with a with a shared idea, vision and passion for what they do. Communication channels need to be clear when compass aligned performance goals are trickled down so that every person knows how they contribute to the collective success of the business (even the sweet lady at your cafeteria).

Marks top tip – remove those employees who break the culture and never let go of why you started the firm in the same place, or at least not until you do actually land the big one. I agreed with that because bad blood breeds bad culture. I do however believe in trying to motivate and engage before I go that far.

This is what stuck like glue. Culture is your glue that binds everyone and everything together. Have the right people with the passion and vision that you have to grow your business. Employ for skill and experience. Not necessary for the top qualifications, but rather the right person that will add value to your business and grow their careers at the same time.