Building a Small Business Team and Culture

0:00:06.0 S2: So Jen, tell us about an interesting experience you’ve had in teaching leadership. So I’ve had countless interesting experiences, I think any time you’re teaching leadership… It’s also a lesson in humility and a lesson in knowing that, you know, just a piece of what the world has to offer. And the day I learned that I was in China, I had just taken my first international assignment, I was tasked with helping leaders in China who worked for an American business, learn new leadership techniques, so with my very American brain and the way I saw the world, ’cause again, I had never worked internationally before, I went in with the same head, I would have gone in with anyone here in the United States, and so through this training, I was talking about being number one, always being the best, because here in the US, those are terms that we use and things that at times we value, and on the very first break, the operations manager came up to me and said, in the Chinese culture, we aren’t really comfortable being number one or the best, because when you go into war, the best person leads the troops and is typically the first one killed, and I was like, oh, okay.

0:01:23.7 S2: And I’m in the middle of my agenda, I have to very quickly think about, I don’t know, be the best number two, I was like, I don’t know, oh my gosh. Well, I can’t wait to talk about leadership and more detail… More of these stories. Let’s get started. Okay, hey, hey, I’m Katie, and this is… She Makes a Podcast dedicated to female creative entrepreneurs, I’m so excited to go through this podcast with you to share maker stories, talk about educational tidbits and explore some hot topics for women in business. Let’s get to it.

0:02:03.3 S1: Hey, hey, maker nation, this is Katie. I’m here with

0:02:05.8 S2: Taylor and Jen. Jen? Hello, thanks for having me today. Thanks so much for coming on. So you are a leadership coach and expert, you work with 304 Coaching. Do you wanna tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into this program? You created… So I grew up in the retail industry, I won’t age, I wanna tell my age, but I will definitely date myself as a young girl, all I ever wanted to do was work in the mall ’cause that seemed like a cool idea. And dreams do come true. And I got to work in the mall at a very young age, but what I didn’t know then that I know now is that at a young age, I was responsible for managing multi-million dollar businesses, I wasn’t responsible for hiring and scheduling and staffing and employee relationship building customer service, P and L reports. And so from a very early age, I had the experience to lead and it taught me a lot, some days were really great and some days were full of just learnings, and I stepped on everything I could find, and so over time my career progressed, I spent half my time in operations and organizations, and then second half of my career, I moved into HR, and so I’m not a classically trained HR person, I am an operator who understands that the only way to deliver your business results is by managing your talent.

0:03:30.4 S2: And after many years in the corporate environment, I woke up one day and said, You know what, I’d like to try this out on my own, I wanna make my own path in this journey, and so I started 304, we are a coaching, education and consulting business, and it’s been a fantastic… Right, since there… That’s amazing. So you’ve obviously had a lot of leadership experience in the past, what are… You said HR was a role for you, what else have you done in leading teams over the last many years, so I felt all types of teams a lot in person, which is something that people are struggling with today, do we lead in person or do we lead virtually, because I was in operations and at a district and regional level, many years in my career, I actually led virtually before we had all this lovely technology to help us do that, so I’ve led teams of hundreds of people across geographical areas. I’ve had the opportunity to lead cross-functional teams, special project teams, which I think is always some of the most interesting, everyone’s excited and wants to do a special project, but they’re hard and they’re typically on top of your normal day and so how do you help people think about time management and stress and all of those things, having to lead those types…

0:04:50.3 S2: Many years ago, I accepted a special assignment in Hong Kong, and that started my international experience since I’ve gotten to lead teams across Hong Kong, China, Europe and Mexico, so not only different types of teams, but all different languages, incontinence. Oh wow. Yeah, I don’t know about you tailor, but I feel really lucky to be talking to gen today… Oh my gosh, man, to your experience is amazing, and obviously, I’m a leader in my job at the shop at Mosaic and leading this podcast, and Taylor is a leader in many ways as well, and so we’re just really lucky to be here and talk to you, so obviously, we’re all leaders, whether it’s in business at home with friends, family, what are the best qualities you think leaders hold and why… That’s such a great question. And never an easy one to answer. Because they said, I know, right? Would it be great? There was just like a recipe that always worked, like chocolate chip cookies, it always works if you use these things, but with leadership, I think one of the things you have to really be open to is flexibility, because if you’re a leader in your home, a leader in your community, a leader at work, you have to understand how to flex the needs of that organization at that time, and I think a lot of leaders think that of, I act this way every day, then…

0:06:16.0 S2: That’s good, I’m consistent. And I’m gonna talk out of both sides of my mouth at the same time and say You have to be flexible, but consistency is one of the best gifts you can give a team because they know what to expect whether you’re there or not, and so it’s about having a consistent foundation about who you are and what you stand for, but then being able to flex into any given situation or any different type of group of person you’re working with, and the ability to have a consistent foundation and flexibility at the same time is really the foundation and key to creating successful leadership teams.

0:06:52.2 S1: I love that, I think that’s great. We’ll be right back, and I wanna dive into more about cultivating a culture as a leader. This podcast is brought to you by Mosaic makers Collective. Dose Makers Co is an all-female all text and retail collective located in the Bishop arts district of Dallas, Texas. Here, we work to sell handmade wears, build community, educate makers and prepare them for future retail opportunities Chapman in store and online at www mosaic to find handmade goods for every occasion, support women and shop small all at once. All right, we are back. I’m here with Taylor and Jen.

0:07:37.8 S2: We were just talking about leadership and kind of defining what a good leader is, but I wanna talk more about creating a culture as a leader. I know that’s something you’ve done a lot of work in Jen, I know it’s something I work really hard at in the shop, in my leadership capabilities, creating a positive culture. One that motivates people. Why is that so important, do you think to create such a positive motivational workplace, every organization has a culture, whether they like it or not, everyone gets one that’s just put a group of people together and how we work creates a culture. I think it’s important to create a unique culture for any business because that’s your competitive advantage, it also allows you to find the type of people who will excel in your environment, and so if you don’t know what your culture is or do not keep a consistent culture, you typically will burn through hires because you might hire someone with the right skills, but the way they wanna work doesn’t match your culture, so they’re not successful, and that’s on the employer understanding their culture, and so creating a culture that’s not just on a piece of paper, but how we actually act towards each other, because too often something beautiful is written on a piece of paper and our actual culture, the one we live by something completely different, and that’s the hardest part, is living by what you put on a piece of paper, but that’s really the core of why it’s important to have a strong culture, it’s because it tells people, here’s how we do the work, here’s how we treat each other, and here’s how we’re gonna interact every single day over and over again, and that creates confidence in your team.

0:09:15.8 S2: It creates consistency. And the other unique thing it does is our brains are predictive machine, so they’re always predicting what’s gonna happen because it wants to keep us safe, and so if you have an inconsistent culture, your employees brain is gonna be like, I don’t know what today is about, I don’t know what to expect that every day is a day around here, and it creates so much distraction noise from doing great work, so what are some elements that make up a positive culture? So I think that it’s hard to define positive culture ’cause that could look different for different people, you can have four very strong organizations with positive cultures, but one person is gonna like one more than the other three, and so it’s about thinking, how do I create an environment where I reduce fear. Any time we can create an environment with a reduction of fear, employees start to build safety, they start to build confidence and they actually perform better because they’re not afraid of getting in trouble every day, and so at the root of any type of positive culture, however, that is defined for that company, if they can find a way to reduce fear in the workplace, they will ultimately perform at a higher level and get better production out of all of their employees.

0:10:35.5 S2: Yes, so true. I love the concept of safety and trust in the workplace, I’ve worked jobs as I’m sure you have, and Taylor has, where I don’t feel safe, I don’t feel trusted. I feel like one small mistake is gonna cost me my job, and that is such a hard… To be a part of… Yeah, so what are things you can do to reduce that? Fear of your employees. I get calls all the time from like CEOS or high level executives, and they say to me, No one on my team knows how to make a decision if I’m not here, no one does anything. And my favorite thing to always say is, What about your language made that true? ’cause at the end of the day, we teach people how to work with us, so if you want to create an environment where there is a reduction of fear that people can make decisions, people can try new things and not be in fear of it, then you have to change your language, so say someone goes out on a lemon makes a decision, it doesn’t go well, the conversation is, Well, you now we know what doesn’t work, what do you wanna try next that you think will work, or from this decision, what did you learn? And how will that impact how you think about things in the future and take it for more of a discovery and growth aspect versus you’re in trouble and you’re worthless because you made one bad decision in your entire lifetime, and that type of mentality is really tough on employees, a lot of employers think every single person who works on their staff should be like a straight A adult, and I was not a straight A student, and I’m certainly not a straight a straight A adult, and we have to allow people to learn and to get better and get them excited about taking risk and making their own decisions in our language will either create that or it will stop it from happening.

0:12:24.6 S1: Oh yeah, I definitely agree with that. We’re all adults, we need to be allowed to express ourselves and be imperfect is totally. All right. Well, we’ll do right back. She makes is brought to you by Canva, an online tool and creative software that allows you to create gorgeous brand forward graphics. Canva is the perfect place to create social media posts, videos, product catalogs, website headers and more, and canara offers even more with a photo background remover, print quality downloads and amazing tools to refine your design. Click the link in our show notes to get started with Canada, one of our favorites here at the base. Alright, this is Katie as she makes a podcast, I’m back with Jen and Taylor, we’re talking about leadership today and being a leader in business and in other ways.

0:13:17.0 S2: So Jen, a lot of our listeners are so-openers right now. They don’t necessarily have a staff yet, but they are starting to think about hiring, so I’d love to focus a little bit on the concept of hiring and how to find those people, so to start, what advice do you have for someone who’s looking to hire… Where did they begin? So it can be daunting to think about hiring people or trusting people with your business, I believe me, I was there one day to my first day out in the first hire I had to make, I would really encourage your listeners to not think about hiring a staff in a traditional way that we’ve always hired, because in today’s world, that’s really tough, I have seven people besides myself on this team, no one works full-time for me, everyone works part-time because they are experts in what they do, and so they may have several clients or they may have a full-time job and work for me on nights and weekends, but what that allows for is every single person who come to the table with me as an expert and has a ton of passion about what they do, I didn’t go and hire two full-time people and expect them to have the mindset of four people each, and when you do that, when you hire one person to do four completely different jobs, chances are they’re only good at one piece of that job and they’re failing in the other three, who wants to get out of bed and not do a good job, who wants to get in trouble for not doing a good job, and so especially for solo entrepreneurs, be really flexible about how you think about hiring, don’t feel like you have to hire one person who can do it all, be very open to creativity when it comes to hiring and how you work with people, definitely, and I think now it’s like hiring based on their strengths, and then also once you hire, you learn more about them.

0:15:05.3 S2: I’ve watched my staff grow and I can have five women in the same role as sales associate, and they all do the job completely differently, but they all have strengths that make them so good at what they do, and understanding each individual strength and how they work together, is such a huge component as well, right? It is. And earlier you talked a little bit about embracing those imperfections, and that’s such a great way of saying, Here are the guidelines, but be you inside those guidelines, and what that allowed was five people who all do the job very, very well, but they do it their way, which makes them better at it because you’re not faking it, makes them enjoy it, and they’re more authentic to every person who walks into the shop. Definitely, I think we’ve all had those micro-managers in the past as leaders who tend to oversee every little thing we do and we can’t catch a break, and I work really hard not to be that way in my leadership abilities because I’ve been micro-managed and I know how hard that can be. And I think, just like you said, if we’re letting them do what they’re passionate about in the way they wanna do it, it’s gonna come across in a much more skills and professional way than if we’re just forcing something upon someone.

0:16:16.0 S2: Right, so are there some things our listeners can put in place before they start hiring, ’cause you talked a lot about building that foundation and having that culture, the culture you wanna make a parent for your employees, what should our women entrepreneurs out there be focusing on onboarding wise, is there something we could give those new employees… Absolutely, when you think about hiring someone, the first thing you wanna do is get really clear on what they’re going to do and give them thing, find people to do work that they love, that is different than you. So if I can handle graphic design, I’m not that good at it, what takes me an hour to kinda halfway make look good, my graphic designer on my team could in five minutes make it look spectacular, and so I totally let go of graphic design, and so we do a ton of training programs here, so when I go out and I create content, all I do is create the content, I don’t spend a minute thinking about what it’s gonna look like because I hired an expert to do that thinking for me, and so then I can become much more creative and spend my energy creating the content, because I’m not looking at the Conwell, should it be this color? Shouldn’t look like that, or, how am I gonna excel? I don’t even recro my mind ’cause I have someone to do that, so really think about what you’re not great at, and then start to think about what actually are those tasks because that allows you to hire the right person, but then onboarding becomes much simpler and easier because you’ve Clear Communication, these are the things that I need you to do.

0:18:03.6 S2: Here’s what that looks like, here’s how we’re gonna work together. And that type of pre-work before you hire an onboard will create a more successful relationship.

0:18:13.0 S1: Definitely. Alright, we’ll be right back with more. And we’re back with… She makes a podcast. So Jen, we were just talking about hiring, and you made a great point about hiring people for their strengths and finding things to delegate that you’re not good at yourself. I think a mental block that a lot of solo prunus have when they’re looking to hire is that they don’t have the funds, but

0:18:44.6 S2: One thing I wanna stress that I think you would agree with is that you’re saving yourself money by saving yourself this time, like you used the example of graphic design and the fact that it would take a graphic design or five minutes, but it would take you a lot of stress and time to get it done, so what advice do you have for those who say like, Oh, I can’t afford it, yet, where do you go from there? So it is a skill, right? So when you hire one person, you’re gonna get a little bit of momentum and that will create a momentum for the second and the third and the fourth, but as long as you’re waking up doing… Waking up every day and doing things you don’t like to do or you are not good at, your business is never, ever going to take off, it just isn’t… You cannot be miserable and be a great entrepreneur, you have to be doing what gets you excited because that’s why you started a business, but there’s all these other horrible things we have to do, like QuickBooks and this… There’s a whole list of stuff and I’m like, This is what my job is, I cannot even…

0:19:47.2 S2: And I know that when I started hiring people and started bringing people into my business, every single time I’ve made that decision, I have seen my business go up now to make that happen, you have to do the good work, you have to decide what work they’re gonna do you have to know what that’s gonna look like? You have to ask around and find the right person, don’t trust the first person you meet, think about how to interview people and how to give them a project to test them out to see if the working relationship is good. But every entrepreneur I know, once they start to invest in a team, they start to see the returns. I’ve never met anyone who said I hired someone. And nothing happened, and if they say that there’s typically a reason why it’s like they didn’t do the work that they needed to do, it’s typically not because all the work was done and then the business just didn’t show up… Right in one million percent agree. I think when I opened mosaic, I was running it on my own, and I was every department, and I was there 247 when the shop was open.

0:20:51.5 S2: And it was impossible to do it all. And now that I have a team behind me, the growth has been exponential, and I could not have done it without their skills, these women are challenging me to think about things in a different way than I normally would, or make decisions I wouldn’t always make, because I haven’t thought about it from someone else’s perspective, and having that knowledge around me is so huge in growing my business as well, I love that you give an opportunity for them to give you feedback because that’s a skill that not all leaders take on. And when we take the time to hear from others who are working with us, then that’s amazing. And that’s when you can really grow. And I know I get feedback from my team all of the time, and they’re like, We could do this or that, and sometimes I’ll agree and sometimes I won’t, but when I don’t agree, I don’t say, I don’t agree. That’s a bad decision. Why would you think about that? I say, I don’t see it, but change my mind, I don’t understand that viewpoint, but I am open to learning because exactly.

0:21:50.5 S2: It becomes an amazing opportunity to collaborate and for me to learn something and not just say, no and shut it down. So let’s talk about resources. Is there like a book or a podcast that stands out to you as a great resource for leaders… So there’s a couple that come to mind. My first leadership book I ever read, and everyone here on three or four, we’re all obsessed with it, and most people have never even heard of it, but it’s called Success Principles, and it’s by Jack Canfield. And if you get the book, it’s like super big and overwhelming, but don’t let that happen, every principle has two or three pages with it with stories and cartoons and that type of stuff, but the concepts in that book are just good life lessons, and especially if you’re an entrepreneur, one of the principles in the book is pay someone to do things you don’t want to do, because trashing you back and it’s robbing someone else the opportunity of work they do love, and so there’s all these great principles and there to live your life by and I just… We’ve got a ton of funny stories here at three or four around it, it’s kind of our internal joke about how…

0:23:01.9 S2: ’cause Jack count fills the author and so something will happen and somebody be like, Oh, Jack wouldn’t like that. So, and so we use it to kinda keep each other and check to because it’s about living a big life, about taking chances, getting out there and putting yourself out there and doing the right thing, and so it’s a great book for individuals and for teams, I love that… Jen, where can we find you online? So you can find me at, you can also find me on LinkedIn at Jen Thornton-ACC, and I also have a YouTube channel. Awesome, great, thank you so much for joining us to… Today, Jen, we’ve had a great time talking to you. I feel like I’ve learned a lot as a leader. I think our listeners can take a lot away from this, so thank you for your wisdom today.

0:23:50.6 S1: Thanks for having me as a pleasure. This

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0:24:27.2 S1: Buy it online at Amazon dot com or make a planner dot com and use coupon code. She makes for 10% off your purchase. She makes a podcast is a UBS media production, brought to you by most ah makers collective shop local female made goods every day at Mosaic. Find us online at Mosaic Makers Co. And she makes a Podcast dot com, you can listen to us on good pods, Apple Podcast,, or anywhere you get your favorite podcasts. A fubs media production.

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