This National Small Business Week, we wanted to share some advice and best practices we’ve come across here at Applied Development in our first seven years of being a small business. Last week, our CEO Kimberly Citizen shared her personal stories of small business success and setbacks on LinkedIn. However, our whole staff knows and experiences the benefits of small businesses. We compiled a list of tips that allow Applied Development to champion the rights of people of all abilities to work and communicate effectively. Here are 3 tips for small business success.
Grow from within.
One vision Kimberly had when she co-founded Applied Development was to create a unique corporate culture. She didn’t want her employees to feel like just a number. She wanted everyone to feel connected to the company and the company’s mission. This also meant finding and retaining great employees. “We are very committed to the growth and development of our employees and look forward to them growing with us,” she says. Many entrepreneurs have shared their stories of why promoting from within benefits employees and the business.
Chris Jones, our Director of Operations and Strategy agrees. He’s worked with small businesses for most of his career, and the fundamental structure of small businesses allows for closer working relationships and ample opportunity for learning. “Most small businesses are still very flat organizations, which affords managers time to address employees’ concerns,” he says.
Establish strong relationships with clients from the beginning.
By nature, the success of our work depends on great relationships with our customers. When providing diversability services, it’s critical that we meet the needs of the Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, or Vision Impaired employee. Our dedicated Diversability Manager Suzanne Davis says, “Providing a sign language interpreter or reader who’s a ‘best match’ for the client a hugely important part of what we do at AD.”
Luckily, as a small company, we not only know this, but can act on it. At the outset of any new project, Suzanne and her team reach out to the client to ask if there are any preferred interpreters, readers, or other service providers that they’ve worked with successfully in the past, and would like to continue working with. After the contract begins, they check in regularly with all parties to evaluate the work. We do everything we can to keep our employees and our clients happy. While this is vital when providing something as important as making sure people of abilities can communicate effectively, it’s a lesson that transfers to any small business.
Know that being a small business is an asset, not a liability.
At Applied Development, we are happy to grow, receive new contracts, and hire more employees. But we also know that being a small business provides us many opportunities. Before joining AD’s management team, Chris Jones worked in acquisition-related positions with the Navy, the Air Force, and the Small Business Administration. In these jobs, Chris saw the adaptability of small businesses. “The agility of a small business allows us to quickly provide employment opportunities that positively impact the local and greater economy,” he says. This agility also allows us to quickly evaluate our business, and pivot or grow in a new direction, if necessary.