Would you treat your key asset in your small business this way?

English: Artist by Langdale Beck An artist bus...
English: Artist by Langdale Beck An artist busy at his easel is oblivious of the rain on this miserable day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was talking to a business woman who worked for an art studio but left because she was treated like dirt. This business woman provided the core competence for a small business which made the business flourish. She worked tremendously hard, gave of her expertise and talents freely and attracted many new customers. But the owner of the business treated her badly, maybe threatened or ungrateful for her level of expertise.

The situation between the small business owner and the key employee eventually came to an end. It’s not surprising because of the way that she was treated. It’s unlikely that the studio will find someone with such competence and at the rate that she was receiving fast enough to rescue the existing business. It’s difficult to predict what will happen next but one scenario is that over time the art studio will close its doors.

What is puzzling is how the business owner could have treated a core assets to the business in this way. Surely, the business owner should have known that it was important to treat this person with specialised skills in a respectful and responsible way to try retain her expertise. Perhaps it was because the small business owner, who had inherited the business, did not fully understand the ethos of running an art studio and failed to recognise the importance of key skills that are core to such a business.

This example does highlight how important it is to properly manage those employees or suppliers in your business with professionalism when they are key to the ongoing growth and viability of your small business. Do you have key employees in your business who can merely walk out of the door if they are treated badly? Do you have a strategy to keep people especially with the “war on talent” where people with skills today have many more options than they had in the past?

You see, it was quite easy for the business person who worked for the studio to walk out the door – which she did – and set up her own studio across the road. Customers of the previous business turned a blind eye to some of the shortcomings in the previous small business because of the good service they were receiving from the business woman who worked for the company. But when she left these same customers followed her to the new business. Now that she is free from the previous small business, she has had plenty of interest from new potential customers.

Any small business owner will know that overreliance on key staff members is a identifiable risk to a small business. It’s important to identify staff members who have specialised skills, talents or abilities that are vital to the ongoing success of the business. If your small business relies heavily on key employees, wouldn’t it make sense to find out how you could increase their commitment or loyalty to your business? How could you sweeten the relationship so that these key employees will stay with you perhaps through a higher level of income or fees and other financial rewards.

If you are planning to start a small business or already have one, may I suggest that you put your name down for a copy of my forthcoming book “Breakthrough Ideas”. This resource shows you how to generate new ideas in your business, turn business ideas from a mere concept or thought into a prototype and eventual viable product or service and identifies several other potential risks that a start-up founder or even existing small business owner should be aware of. Limited copies of this resource will be available so if you want to secure a copy make sure you put your name down soonest at no obligation to yourself.

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