After I started up my first company in 1998, it was a long road and a lot of work. 24 hours a day for seven years to make something out of nothing. Owning a web hosting company that is obviously open 24 hours a day, doesn’t allow for much downtime. Electricity issues, hardware issues, server problems, the list goes on of what can go wrong. I do not miss the calls in the middle of the night and the rushing out of bed to get the the data center.
One thing I learned from being a small business owner is how to be a leader. I didn’t realize this until later on in my career though. I will explain…
Since I owned a small business I felt I needed the employees more than they needed me, especially in 24 hour craziness of the web hosting industry. I feel that mindset helped me gain great respect from employees. I always wanted every employee to feel like they were part of a family and were appreciated. Finding great employees is one of the hardest things to do and once you find them you want to keep them.
I learned all of this after the company got sold and I was on to my next venture. I was in the process of starting up a new division for a software company and I needed people I could trust to do their job. I was able to bring three employees with me. I didn’t think anything of it at the time until someone mentioned it to me. They said, do you know how hard it is to build up enough trust and respect to have people “follow you”.
That was when I started thinking about the relationships I built and realized that yes, there were people that believed enough in me that they would give up on their current jobs or their own ventures.
Of course that put more pressure on myself to make sure I would succeed. The last thing I would want is to take someone from their current career, and then everything goes south. But there is always a risk everyone has to take. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward, right?
To sum things up, what I am trying to get across is… make an attempt to respect your employees or anyone you manage. Go out of your way to make them feel appreciated, because it goes a long way. In most cases you need them more than they need you, maybe not so much in this economy, but to me it still holds true.
To give a quick update, I moved on from the company but the three people are still at the same company. All of them moved up and are considered very valuable people at the company.