Reflecting Back on Six Years in Business

With 2015 on the cusp of wrapping up, I’ve been reflecting back on the last six years of owning MyCorporation. It’s been a long road, but we wouldn’t be where we are today (thriving!) if we hadn’t experienced each and every twist and turn. It all started back in 2004 when I joined the MyCorporation team, not as the CEO but as the vice president of legal affairs. With years in law school and some time in a law firm partnership, I was happy to be applying my legal knowledge in an area that interested me. In 2005, the business was acquired by Intuit. The acquisition brought about a much-needed new perspective on running MyCorporation, but there was still untapped potential that I was wishing I could get my hands on. Then, finally, in 2009 I purchased the division. And now here we are- six full years later!

Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:

Do your research.

This can apply to a lot in business, but in this instance I’m talking about buying/starting your own company. I had the luxury of working on the inside of MyCorporation before buying it. But a large part of my “research” was taking ample notes on what was going on around me. I saw first-hand what was currently working, and what wasn’t. I knew how my coworkers really felt about everything because I was one of them, I heard what customers liked and complained about because I witnessed it every day- these first-hand experiences helped a lot in creating a successful working environment once I took over. If you’re buying a company, do as much research as you can about how they’re currently running. You may want to gut everything and start from scratch, but chances are that there are a few things that really work in the company’s favor that you may not have thought of yourself. If you’re starting a business from scratch, research what similar companies are doing. The more you know the less work you’ll have to do.

ROI is everything.

Whether you bought your company or started it from the ground up, small business owners have to focus on ROI.  You need to know what you’re spending and what the return is on that spending.  Business owners need help and training in this regard- this isn’t something that comes naturally to someone who’s new to business.  All too often new business owners find themselves in debt and they can’t figure out why.  Being aware of expenses and return on investment is a critical way to help avoid falling into debt and not understanding how you got there. It’s what ruins so many new businesses- escape the statistic and be meticulous about your ROI.

Company culture can make a company.

You can do absolutely everything right in terms of running a business mechanically. You can focus on ROI, create lasting relationships with customers, and turn a profit every quarter, but if your employees are unhappy, I guarantee your business will never reach its full potential. And the wonderful thing about company culture is that there’s no exact science to it. People are different, so each happiness equation is going to be unique to each company. It’s up to you to figure out what makes your employees tick and what gets them excited to come in in the morning. Again, this depends on who your employees are. Millennials value flexibility, Boomers like to be rewarded for hard work, recent grads care about paying back their student loans as soon as possible, and new parents appreciate a sense of understanding when things get hectic at home. The more you’re sympathetic to your employees’ lives outside of the office, the better they’ll work for you in the office. We like to keep the office fun by celebrating whenever we can: birthdays, holidays, graduations, baby showers, work anniversaries, you name it. It keeps the atmosphere fun, and it’s a nice way for me to celebrate my awesome employees.

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