Jan. 25, 2023, marks Newsletter Pro’s 12th anniversary as a company. While we have had many ups and downs over the years, we are proud to have maintained an attitude of continuous growth.
Now, over a decade later, we’re so excited to say that we’re still growing as a company and are looking forward to several new projects we have on the horizon.
To celebrate, this month, we are counting down 12 of the most important lessons we have learned in our 12 years of business, starting with #12:
12.) Negativity is Passé
If you’re like most Americans, you have worked at least one or two nightmare jobs.
You may be like 76% of Americans who have or recently had a bad boss. Or perhaps you’re like the 72% of employees, who have left a job due to a toxic work environment. Maybe you’ve been fortunate not to have had a terrible work experience. Still, you watched a friend or family member struggle in a job that breaks them down over time. Lots of us have been there.
Unfortunately, many business owners still wholeheartedly believe in the importance of maintaining a “high-pressure” work environment. They are convinced that stressed workers are more productive, and many cite the need for new employees to “pay their dues.”
This is a critical mistake.
Unhappy workers are 12% less productive than happy workers, are much more prone to absenteeism due to stress-related illness, and are infinitely likelier to quit than happy workers.
It’s also much harder to hire if your company is known for facilitating a toxic work environment.
Workers are becoming less and less willing to suffer needlessly for companies that make it clear they don’t care about them. They want to be invested in and encouraged, not used up and discarded.
At Newsletter Pro, we want our employees to feel cared for, supported, and respected so they can do their best work. Here are just a few of the harmful practices we avoid.
While we are always happy to receive constructive feedback, constant, unhelpful complaining is not helpful.
We address this by ensuring employees are fully aware that they are welcome to come to us and voice their concerns. Management will do everything possible to address those concerns quickly and thoroughly.
- Gossiping, Bullying, and General Rudeness
Nobody deserves to feel demeaned within the workplace. It doesn’t matter if the perpetrator is a supervisor or not. Bullying is not tolerated at Newsletter Pro.
Luckily, we rarely have issues in this area because we make our policies clear and have a solid company culture. But for the rare incident, we are sure to address it promptly and fairly.
- Nepotism and Office Politics
There’s no faster way to breed resentment within a business than to favor some staff members over others based on their relationships. Not to mention it’s unfair to other talented team members who do not have the same advantage and can never have it.
While many of our amazing staff members have gotten jobs with us through referrals, we do not show special treatment to anyone based on who they know. Everyone is expected to earn promotions and raises within our organizations.
An organization can never thrive if staff members lie to their managers, lie to each other, and lie to clients. That’s why we do not tolerate dishonesty at Newsletter Pro and will correct the behavior if it comes to light. This helps to improve transparency and, by extension, productivity.
- Unhealthy Competition
Pitting people against each other may seem like a great way to encourage productivity, but all it really encourages is sabotage, backstabbing, and high blood pressure. At Newsletter Pro, we want to reward staff members who have gone above and beyond, but we also want to ensure that everyone sees their coworkers as teammates working towards the same goal, not their competition. That’s why we try to encourage our staff to celebrate each other’s accomplishments and give plenty of opportunities for everyone to rise within the organization.
- Lack of Boundaries
Maybe you’ve had a boss who insisted that you answer emails while on vacation. Perhaps you had one that demanded you stay at the office until 9 p.m. without receiving overtime.
That’s not acceptable.
At Newsletter Pro, we know that lacking boundaries is one of the quickest ways to lose employees. We make it clear to our employees that we expect them to use their PTO and benefits. We do not want them to ever answer messages while on vacation, and respect their personal time when they have gone home for the day.
Ensuring that these toxic workplace practices and communication styles are not tolerated within our organization has brought our staff retention rates to all-time highs. We have also seen increased productivity levels and better ROI from each employee. It all stems from employees being excited to come to work every day and do their best.
So don’t be so sure that having a “high-pressure” work environment is actually helping your organization. It’s probably really damaging it in the long run.
11.) You Have to Walk Before You Can Run
One of the biggest hurdles for new business owners is feeling like they don’t know what they’re doing. They may have gone to business school, worked in leadership positions at other businesses, or even dabbled in freelancing before — and they still go into entrepreneurship feeling lost. That’s okay.
While it’s essential to do careful research before taking the plunge and starting your own business, nobody expects you to figure everything out immediately. Most of the time, optimizing things will require trial and error, tweaking, and a willingness to learn.
The important thing is that you keep moving forward.
Start by evaluating where you are with a critical eye.
Once you know where you are (point A), you can determine where you want to go (point B). Start by exploring where you want to be in five years, and write down your goals. Then, determine what steps you can take this month, this year, this week, and today to start moving toward them. You will eventually reach where you need to be by taking small steps every day.
What progress looks like will be different for every business and heavily dependent on their industry and stage of development. For example, you might wear many hats if you’re just starting out. That’s normal. Eventually, as your business grows, you can hire experienced people to take over the smaller tasks that aren’t your area of expertise.
But until then, it’s crucial to ensure your efforts are forwarding your business goals, not hindering them. Make sure you do your research on what the standard practices are for your industry and what your competition is doing. Then you will be better equipped to ensure that you remain competitive, even in areas you are unfamiliar with. Remember — it’s always better to prioritize quality over quantity, so don’t stretch yourself too thin.
Maybe you can set a goal to have a part-time marketing person hired within the next two years. Or perhaps you set a goal to have an official office space within the next three. Whatever your goals, make sure they are sustainable and won’t stretch your business too thin. It’s always better to push a milestone back than to force it on a specific time frame and do more harm than good.
But maybe you’ve been in business for a few years already. In that case, you’re probably in a position to hire a few team members who can help you out. Lean on their expertise and guidance to learn more about possible improvements for your business. Use their insights to determine what short- and long-term goals are doable for each department. Then set up a strategy with them that they can implement with their teams.
Don’t be discouraged if you’re feeling overwhelmed when meeting your goals. The great thing about being a business owner is that you don’t need to know everything, and you don’t have to do it alone. You can lean on experts and knowledgeable individuals within your teams to push you forward, leading us to our next point.
10.) There’s No Room for Ego in Business
This one can trip up even the most seasoned business owners — especially ones that started their companies from scratch. Entrepreneurs often get used to the “old way” of doing things. They were, at one point, in charge of many things that didn’t necessarily have to do with their job as CEO.
Then, when they hire the right people to take over those tasks, they have difficulty letting go of the control they previously held.
Let’s give a typical example. Suppose that Sally starts her own candle company out of her kitchen. She buys all the supplies, makes the candles by hand, labels them, ships them, handles all of the marketing, does all the bookkeeping, and has to build her own website.
Sally can only handle a few hundred orders every month on her own. However, eventually, her candles become so popular that she needs, and can afford, more staff. She starts by leasing a production space, and hiring a team to pour, label, and ship her candles.
With their assistance, Sally is able to scale her business considerably, mailing out a few thousand orders per month. With her newfound success, Sally can hire a bookkeeper, a web designer, and a part-time marketing manager.
This is where things can start to get dicey.
Often entrepreneurs like Sally start to micromanage their staff. Sally might critique the website because it’s set up differently from hers. Or she may begin to meddle in the company’s social media schedule because it’s not done how she did it. She may even go to the warehouse to critique how the workers put the wicks in the candles.
While this is deeply unhelpful on Sally’s part, it’s understandable why many business owners engage in these behaviors.
From Sally’s perspective, she was already very successful on her own. For years she has handled all of the administrative tasks for her company. She has done so with a specific methodology. Trusting new staff members to do an excellent job can be difficult.
But here’s the problem — Sally’s not a web designer, bookkeeper, or a marketer — she’s an entrepreneur.
Sally may have kept up with all those tasks out of necessity, but she is certainly not an expert. That’s perfect for an entrepreneur just starting out, but leaning on her abilities in those areas is not a good long-term strategy.
As the old saying goes, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” That’s not to say that Sally won’t become an expert entrepreneur. That’s just to say that without specialization, she will never be able to perform at the level of a seasoned expert in the specific areas she hires for.
Sally needs to put her ego aside and let her team do their jobs.
You spent time interviewing them, vetting them, verifying their credentials, and checking their references to determine that they were the right person to hire. After that, you should monitor their performance for a short period, and once they prove that they can meet — and exceed — your expectations, it’s time to back off.
After all, these talented team members have likely studied and practiced their craft for hundreds — maybe even thousands — of hours. They know their industry inside and out and understand what they are doing. You interfering with their work and butting in where you don’t belong will only slow them down and limit the quality of work they can do.
Sometimes that’s a hard pill to swallow. Still, unless there is a serious question about work quality, it’s typically a safe bet that your staff can rise to the occasion for your business. You must re-evaluate your hiring practices if your team can’t be trusted. It’s really as simple as that.
9.) Don’t Panic.
There are plenty of times in business when you might feel like panicking. Perhaps you took a loss on a crucial deal, or are worried about global economic trends. Maybe you’re concerned about how quickly your competitor grows and how many of your clients have switched to them.
To be clear, we’re not saying not to be concerned about your business. Having a healthy level of concern and staying involved in what’s going on at your company is part of being a vigilant business owner. However, your attitude when addressing these concerns is sometimes as important, if not more important, than the solution itself.
Addressing a problem calmly, looking at it from every angle, and getting input from respected experts will likely produce a reasonable solution for your business. Panicking, on the other hand, has never solved anything. When you panic, you lose your ability to act rationally and make decisions based on emotion. The right thing to do might be right in front of you, and instead of pursuing that solution, you might end up doing something that makes the whole situation worse.
So if you notice an area of your business that needs to be addressed and you begin to feel stressed about it, take a deep breath. Ask yourself what steps to take to develop a plan. Consult an outsider who won’t be as emotionally attached to the outcome of your decision and can give you objective feedback. Then get your solution together, and implement it.
But never, ever panic.
We hope these 4 tips are helpful for wherever you are in your business journey. Join us next week for 4 more key tips we have learned from our 12 years in business.
If you want to learn more about the history of Newsletter Pro, you can fill out the form below to download our founder’s book, “The Ultimate Guide to Newsletters.”