National Small Business week has given me an opportunity to sit back and reflect upon all that I’ve learned as a small business leader during a global pandemic. Now THAT statement feels like a punch to the gut! Kudos to all small business owners who have had to roll with the punches, weather the uncertainty & put in so many hours over the past year to keep our businesses afloat. Here are my top 3 takeaways from it all (so far, because it’s not over yet!)
Shine CEO, Sarah Ziemba
- TEAM. The Shine Team is the cornerstone to our success! This past year has hammered it home for me. In particular, I am so grateful for my business partner and co-owner, Kristin Faulkner. This past year we have learned how to rely on each other’s strengths in order to do the best for our business. At times when we have struggled, other members of our team have been there to support us; when they struggled, we were there to support them. The pandemic was a true test of our ability to do this, and it would not have been possible without my next ‘T’: Transparency.
- TRANSPARENCY. In a global pandemic, there were times when every single employee at Shine (INCLUDING MYSELF!!!) “wasn’t managing their job/life well”….I mean, OF COURSE! We were in quarantine, kids were out of school(then back in, then out again, then quarantined for exposures and on and on…), we were scared for ourselves and our families, for about 6 weeks our therapists had no job because we were not allowed to see children in person due to the shutdown, then we had to learn how to provide therapy through video-a whole new skill set, etc.(I could keep going but you get the picture. I think all businesses were struggling similarly.) We all had to put our families and ourselves first in ways that we had not previously. As we work through this time, transparency has been key. Transparency allows us to understand and support one another. Transparency leads to the final ‘T’: Trust.
- TRUST. I recently listened to an episode of the Dare to Lead Podcast by Brene Brown (highly recommend) where she said that team members must trust the leader’s ‘compass.’ Will I try and fail at times? Yes. But I do so with transparency with the team, with accountability and thoughtfulness, and that builds trust and loyalty. Pandemic = Pivot, and pivot again, and again…. teams must trust the compass of their leaders to roll with these changes. I am grateful for my wonderful team (back to the first ‘T’), and the many ways that we have demonstrated our Shine Core Values (coming soon to the blog) during the past year.
Our focus at Shine has always been that happy, fulfilled, supported team members = employees who do the job well. This philosophy has built us a reputation of excellent services in our area, and we LOVE hearing from families about how we have touched their lives. Small business = change from the bottom up! In fact, the lessons of this year have led to our mission statement: (drumroll please)
Empowering Families to Help Their Children Thrive!
Because, just as leaders build the foundation of their businesses, caregivers are the foundation of their child’s lives. If we support caregivers by working with their family to determine the next best steps for their children, we are a part of change from the bottom up! As a company that supports small children (approximately 80% of our clientele is birth- 3 years of age) we love being a part of this process.
In closing, you may be wondering….How do I take these lessons and use them to support other local small businesses? I do this by watching how they are weathering the pandemic. Are they making choices that support their employees? Are they trying to meet the new needs of this time? Have they posted on social media with transparency? If they make a mistake, do they take responsibility and then do better? Do their values seem to align with mine?
I watch social media accounts, I listen to others in the community, I share my experiences. When I see employees pitching in due to staff shortages, I try to acknowledge this with a supportive comment or even a tip- tipping fast food workers often leads to a happy smile (under the mask) and I hope that I have made their day a little better. When I see small, local restaurants posting about their struggles, I order from them. I shop at our local stores, whenever possible. As a business, we purchase food for meetings locally, as well as purchasing gift cards and other novelty items for staff from local businesses. These are just some of the ways we support local at Shine, because I firmly believe that now more than ever, small business changes lives, from the bottom up.