By Kevin Byrne, founder and Managing Director of Checkatrade.com
The first time I was ever asked how I had built such a big business the answer that came out of my mouth surprised me. I said: “I haven’t, I’ve tried to build people.”
Since that day I’ve thought a lot about that quote, why I said it and how others could benefit practically from taking the same view.
The reality is that even if you have a great service or product, if you have a dysfunctional team then it will still fail. In contrast even with a mediocre service or product - but this time the team behind it is motivated and all pushing in the same direction without gossiping – can be successful. So what’s more important, the product or the team?
Of course both are important but my point is that without a great team a company will fail regardless of how good the product is. Therefore my answer is the team is the most important. Or as I like to say, people are more important than business - and I genuinely believe this.
So my biggest tips are not around the practical things that many would expect you to say, they are about putting people first. Appreciate them, understand them, empower them and motivate them.
Those principles can apply to customers too. The key to good customer service, for instance, is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think ‘what would I want if I was a customer’. Then make sure you give it to them. It’s simple, but not everyone is able to achieve it.
As for growing the business, I firmly believe you only achieve what you expect. So what are you expecting to happen? Your actions and your behaviours come through your expectations. So if you work on your expectations, your actions and behaviours will come from it.
That’s why I believe it is vital in business to set goals and to be ambitious. At Checkatrade we have set goals for every single aspect you can think of. We have KPIs for everything.
If I had set goals in my first years I would be a lot further down the road than I am now. But unfortunately in my experience, entrepreneurs don’t like setting goals, they just want to do it.
I’ve learned the hard way you have to put goals in place and you have to allow other people to own those goals, and to encourage the teams in your company to hit those goals. If you can break them down into manageable chunks like ‘what do we want to achieve today’ then you’ll achieve it. But remember, it’s the team – the people in your business – that take you there. Put people first.