When I first started Mekky Media, I was just a solopreneur at my dining room table. I didn’t have a team to empower. I barely had a vision for what the company would turn into. Frankly, I was flying by the seat of my pants.
But as all business owners understand, there comes a point when that’s not an appropriate tactic anymore. The day arrived where it became clear that I had to hire someone. The business was too much for just one person. I couldn’t have told you the exact kind of person I wanted to hire, but I knew I wanted someone passionate who would love it like I love it. Without knowing it, I was setting my business up to be a culture of empowerment. (Because you can’t hire passionate people and stifle their creativity. They just won’t stick around.)
My friends warned me that I would never find anyone as passionate as I was about the work.
“After all,” they would tell me, “you’re the founder. Your name is on the door. It’s impossible to find someone else who will care that much.”
I always felt very discouraged after those kinds of conversations. I’ve always been a passionate, very hard worker. I wanted to find employees who were that same way, and my friends were telling me that what I was looking for simply didn’t exist. What if they were right?
Well, I decided that it was a non-negotiable for me. I knew I needed to be surrounded by people who were equally as passionate about the work as I was. Because I’m so passionate about the work I do, I’ve always thrived in environments where I felt empowered to make my own decisions for the business and for the client.
Now, as the CEO and founder, I get to put my money where my mouth is and exemplify that same kind of environment to my team. Not only do I genuinely believe in empowering my team, but it also propels my business forward. I’ve seen tangible results, clients are happier, and most importantly, I’ve been able to begin scaling the business in a way I would never be able to do without this culture of empowerment. So below, I’ve outlined how I empower my team in order to move the business forward.
Appreciate them. I really believe positive reinforcement and a culture of appreciation are so important to building a successful company and a happy team. More than anything else, people just want to feel like they’re doing a good job and that their work is appreciated. A small compliment goes a long way. When I was an employee for others, I always felt best when I knew I was doing meaningful, valuable work that was appreciated by the company. And now, I’ve realized that that’s very much my leadership style. As I’ve grown, my appreciation has grown even more because this business is my baby and these people are working with me and for me. When I appreciate my team, they in turn appreciate me and the work (and they work even harder to garner results).
Invest in them. Delegation and empowerment are not one-off tasks. You need to ensure you set your team up for success. That starts by selectively hiring your people and training them to do certain tasks. In my case, it’s my name on the door. People gravitate toward the owner. Because of that, I felt obligated for a long time to attend every single media appearance a client had—and these events are often very early in the morning or very late at night. I ended up working nonstop from 5am till midnight. It simply wasn’t sustainable. I began to invest time and energy into my team, empowering them to attend those events on the company’s behalf. The company hasn’t skipped a beat and not one client has complained. They have my passion, my personal attention and white glove service vibe I want everyone to feel too.
Trust them. As a leader, trust is something difficult that will require practice to cultivate. If you are the business owner, there’s going to be a piece of you that feels like you have to have your hands in every aspect of the business. But if growing is a true goal, this isn’t going to fly for very long. Many people come to Mekky Media because they want personalized attention from me. For obvious reasons, that’s not scalable. I know that I need to hire people who I can trust to completely take the reins when it comes to client-facing work. I am very selective in who I hire. I have a core set of values I hire against as a screening tool because I know what I am looking for is not easy to find. But those I do hire, I put a great amount of trust in. I put the time in upfront to give myself the headspace to step back and trust my team at the right time. I know they’ve got it. I don’t have to micromanage. I trust they are doing the work. If the results are coming in, that’s the true tale sign.
Unless you’re a solopreneur, happy to handle all business alone and with no intention of growing beyond yourself, you need to adopt an empowerment mentality. I’ve seen firsthand how empowering my team propels my business forward.
As a leader, you need to give yourself the time and space to work on your business. It’s not enough to work in your business all the time. If you don’t empower your team to handle the business, you’ll never be able to move forward, grow, and succeed on a larger scale.