When 66% of businesses fail in the first 10 years, actually reaching that milestone is cause for celebration and reflection. So, what does it take to keep a business running for a decade when failure seems so inevitable? The simple answer is, it is all about who you surround yourself with. The people you hire, the partners you choose and of course the clients you serve have the biggest impact on the longevity of your business. Wait, there has to be more to it than that right? Of course, here are a few deeper explanations of what has made us successful in spite of such huge failure numbers.
- First, are the people you hire. They have to have a few key elements to ensure they will be successful within your organization, and even with these key elements, there are no guarantees. Many wise leaders have stated the importance of hiring slow and firing fast. Take your time to make the best decision possible and if it isn’t working out, don’t be afraid to move on quickly. At Modern Foundation, we have had the pleasure of working with the best of the best in our space. Here are some of the key elements we’ve looked for, in our employees, that have helped us along the way:
- Passion: although very cliché, is still number one in our opinion. Your people have to have a true passion for what you do (at least the “Why” you do it) or they won’t last long. One of our board members casually reminded me recently that we come to work for the 30% of activities we love and are passionate about, but that the other 70% tends to just be work and that is ok.
- Culture: also tends to be over-hyped but is such a huge part of the hiring process. The people you bring in have to feel invited to participate in the company culture (which can feel difficult for new people) and have to be a good fit. Being an EOS (Entrepreneur’s Operating System) company has made this easier for us, we simply hire based on core values and that makes the process easier and more consistent.
- Get It, Want It, Capacity to Do It: GWC is the item I think of when it comes to successful people. EOS compels you to act based on these three words, does the employee “get the job, want the job and have the capacity to do the job”. If you can’t easily answer “yes” to all three, you know what to do, keep searching.
- Next, are partners. Choosing good partners is such an important part of sustaining a business. If you want to be successful in business, surrounding yourself with other successful businesses is a great way to get there. When I talk about partners, there are really three types of partnerships that we feel have helped us find success, each has their own special part to play in the process and each partner has done so much for us. There are three types of partnerships we’ve found success with:
- Vendor Partners: They are such an important part of finding success. Seeking out vendors that can help you improve your business performance by keeping you focused on the most important areas of your business is key. We love finding new tools/processes that help us stay focused on doing what we do best every single day.
- Board of Advisors: Having an advisory board certainly has been a major part of our success to date, as well. Bringing in individuals that have a personal passion for leveraging their own industry knowledge and business experience to help us avoid pitfalls and miss speed bumps along the way has been truly invaluable. Not just bright people with lots of experience and passion, but also a support group that understands our industry and can help provide guidance when making tough decisions.
- Strategic Partners: Over the past ten years, we have aligned ourselves with some of the strongest strategic partners out there. Our strategic partners have not only helped us find projects but have helped us at every step to learn, grow and challenge ourselves along the way.
- Last, but certainly not least, are clients. Choosing the right types of clients to partner with and focus your sales and marketing activities on is huge, maybe the most important part of the process is finding people to do business with that align with your own core values, share in some of your passions in business and understand that this relationship goes two ways. Here are three key principles we’ve employed to keep us focused on the right types of clients:
- Work Should be Fun: Working with clients that are spirited, passionate and just fun to work with make the days a lot shorter. It also motivates our team to do their best work. We have had no shortage of clients that are fun to work with. Also, part of the fun is simply tackling challenging issues together, when you have fun working together it just doesn’t feel like work.
- All Relationships Should be Two Ways: There’s work for both sides to do to maximize success. Each client we’ve partnered with over the years has genuinely enjoyed getting in the boat and rowing with us. It is critical to work with clients who understand their role in the relationship and play it well.
- We All Rise Together: One of our favorite parts of serving clients is finding the ones who champion not only their own success but ours as well. This is one of our favorite things and makes doing business with our clients so easy. When you are truly in each other’s’ corner, the work is so much more meaningful.
So, what does this all add up to? A huge THANK YOU! Each of you has continued to keep us inspired, focused and driven to bring the best possible outcomes when helping you solve your business challenges. We are forever grateful for the people, partners, and clients that have made us who we are. Yes, there is a lot of work to do to keep growing, but without people like you, we never could have made it to 10 years. So, thank you again from all of us at Modern Foundation for what has been a heck of a ride so far. Here’s to the next 10 years of growth together!