People First: Why Investing in Your Company Has to Start with Your People
As any business leader will agree, there are a multitude of ways you can invest in your business. There’s always something shiny and new that promises to make our companies better. But smart investing requires a hierarchy, a strategy about where to put your resources first. And that hierarchy, I’m convinced, must start with your people.
Most of the companies we partner with at Fervor aren’t selling a product. They’re selling a service. Service-based businesses are built by people and for people. Fervor, as a digital marketing agency, falls squarely in that camp. Hand on heart, the most valuable investments in a service-based business aren’t the tangible ones. Service-based companies, I’m talking to you: the most valuable investment you can make is an investment in your people.
If you’ve been around Fervor for a bit, you’ve heard my refrain before: Winning inside first. The best way we can serve our clients is by strengthening our own team. It’s a paramount investment for us. The only way to produce a better service is to produce better people.
Certainly, you can invest in two buckets. One is the equipment and tools your team uses to conduct the service, the functional things your people need to do their job. This is what most of us think of first when we think about investing. Because much of what we do is intangible — hey, we are a digital marketing firm after all — I’ve struggled with the same sort of challenge. Without the right supplies, you can’t execute the service. But that’s not what we’re talking about today. Let’s assume you’ve provided the essentials your team needs to do their job.
When we focus on the health of our staff, we can serve our clients with strong expertise and strong deliverables. Investing in people is far more complex than we give credence to. So service-based companies, listen up. Some real ways to invest in your people:
Root your people investments in what you stand for.
To systematically invest in people, take your core values and reverse engineer your tactics from there. You gotta know what you stand for to hire the right people at the right time — and you need a plan to make it happen. Even a simple plan will do. But the right investments start with a strong conviction about what matters most.
Create a plan to steward your investments well.
Don’t just hope that your people will organically grow stronger with an annual review or a good manager. Growth is too imperative to leave to chance. Design tactics that will result in a healthy team. Treat your workforce like you treat your clients and start with a communications strategy. Just like your clients, your team needs a marketing plan designed just for them. Systematic and consistent communication empowers your team.
Assign owners to every aspect of your plan.
Every part of your plan needs an owner to make sure it happens. And ownership doesn’t have to rest solely on the shoulders of the CEO and leadership. In fact, as we’ve seen, it’s even better if you share responsibility across departments. The more project leads you can bring together for a cohesive plan, you’ll get better ideas than you ever dreamed up of how to invest in and grow your team.
Be willing to invest the time it takes to grow people well.
Know that investing in your team will cost you. And I’m not talking money alone. The most valuable commodity every CEO has is their time and attention. If you care about your team and you want your investment to bear fruit, it’s going to take time. Lasting growth won’t happen overnight. This is a long-term, dedicated strategy for real growth in service-based companies.
Investing in people first isn’t cheap and it isn’t fast. And make no mistake, challenges still occur in every organization, service or product-based. But I’ve found this to be true in my own digital marketing agency: the more we focus on our people, the better we serve our clients and each other. By investing in a team of people in this kind of way, there’s no one I’d rather be in a boat rowing with. When the tide and rapids get strong, I know I want to be next to them rowing in that same boat.
Did this resonate with you? We’ve got more where that came from. More on what it looks like to win inside first: