Profits and competition are only a small part of your business story. Going beyond the bottom line, you have an opportunity to cultivate your community like one Wisconsin barbershop owner did.
With a vision focused on the people you employ and the community in which you operate, you can make a positive impact, not only economically but also socially. Businesses are important to a community.
“Gee” sets an example
Take Gaulien “Gee” Smith, owner of Gee’s Clippers, a barbershop and beauty salon in Milwaukee. Gee started the business 22 years ago; but well before that, he was cutting hair for boys in the neighborhood and charging $5 a head. In fact, his oldest client has been coming to him for 35 years – that’s 13 years before he officially opened his doors for business.
With persistence and a never-give-up attitude, Smith has grown his business into a 32-chair barbershop, with plans to develop a hair product line.
You could say that he was always meant to open a business, but he had to work hard to make his dream become a reality. Before becoming a small business owner, Smith worked for the U.S. Postal Service. It was a steady government job, but he had more to offer. He needed a change, but change involved taking a risk.
“We are put here for a reason,” he says. “Not too many people make that jump. I’d like to think that I’ve jumped and it’s one of the best things I ever could’ve done.”
Focus on cultivating individual potential
The passion that drove Smith to realize his own potential is something he seeks to cultivate in his employees.
In a regular barbershop there tends to be a lot of turnover, partially because employees don’t feel connected to their work or their employer. Smith goes out of his way to create a work environment where employees can feel like they are part of something special, something unique.
Each month Smith brings employees together for a mandatory meeting to make sure everyone has the same vision and leadership goals. By investing in his staff and mentoring individuals, Smith has created a unique team environment, and he doesn’t have the turnover rate other shops experience. In fact, several barbers have been with him for more than 20 years.
Envision a wider mission for business community involvement
In addition to mentoring his employees, his business has been successful due to its involvement with the community.
Smith envisions his role as more than a business owner trying to increase profits and be competitive. He is the member of the community who has the unique opportunity to be a positive influence on those who frequent his barbershop.
“Barbers have bigger roles – real issues are shared in the barber chair,” he says. “The barber shop is the heartbeat of the community.”
Smith’s model is one many business owners seek to emulate. Business community involvement means engaging with the community on a regular basis. With a broader vision of your role in the community, you can use your business to cultivate a culture of giving back to the community.
This article originally appeared on U.S. Bank’s Financial IQ site. Used by kind permission of U.S. Bank.