This is part of the “Moving Forward” series offering advice to small business owners on technology, mentorship, productivity, and growth. “Moving Forward” is sponsored by Chase Ink.
Modern humans have radically changed the way that they work and the way that they live, and to be successful, the small business owner must adapt to the growing-up of Millennials.
That’s the reality of the digital age, and an insight that’s at the core of how Brian Halligan, CEO of marketing software company HubSpot, does business and organizes his company.
Proper company organisation is especially key for small businesses, because attracting the millennial generation, as workers and customers, is essential to surviving.
On the customer side, it means people expect things to be easier than ever.
According to Halligan, one example that The Innovator’s Dilemma author Clay Christensen talks about is the MP3 and the iPod. Early versions of the MP3 didn’t take off, because iPods were hard to set up and add content to. But when Apple added iTunes and the 99 cent song, the MP3 took off.
“That’s kind of how we thought about Internet marketing,” Halligan tells Business Insider. “Instead of requiring an SEO consultant and a social media consultant, blogs, email marketing, and marketing automation and gluing all this crap together, we would pull it all together and make it simple and get mere mortals to use the stuff.”
Jason Cohen, president of document management firm ILM corporation and Virginia’s Small Business Administration Small Business Person of the Year, tells us that the rise of a new workforce means his business has had to change dramatically, along with customers’ expectations.
“In modern businesses today, your value is locked up in your employees.”
In the old days, you’d call a customer service line, and accept that they’d take a few days to research and pull up your information. “Now the expectation is that the person should be able to click a few keystrokes and call up our record magically,” Cohen says.
And on the culture and recruitment side, it means catering to a group that has a different set of priorities than many small business owners, and thinking very deliberately about culture.
“I feel like my father’s generation was motivated by a pension, they sort of lived in the shadow of the great depression, for my generation, Gen X, we’re motivated by where you are in your career ladder and your salary,” Halligan says.
Most management techniques and company cultures are built around those career ladder- and salary-motivated goals and assumptions, and that doesn’t work for the people entering the workforce now. “I feel like this new generation cares a lot less about their salary or their career. It’s really about learning,” Halligan says.
That means a workplace that encourages people who move between jobs and functions, and where they have a chance to advance. Not only that, but one that takes into account that the 9-5 workplace isn’t a given, and that the generation that grew up on the Internet and social networks has different expectations about transparency.
“At some companies, I think the CEO spends all of their time engineering their product and their marketing and all that stuff, and they really don’t think much about their culture,” Halligan argues. “Their culture is more important than they think. That is the key to pulling in great employees. In modern businesses today, your value is locked up in your employees.”
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