What Does “People First” Mean?
The phrase “People First” means a lot of things, but at its core, it’s about one thing: authentically putting people first. Employees, customers, and community members are the lifeblood of any business, big or small. And you can put them first by…
- Maintaining a simple philosophy of “Treat People As You Want to Be Treated,” whether it be customers, employees, suppliers, or the broader community.
- Supporting your community and local causes through time, talent, or money.
- Building relationships with your community by consistent acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that demonstrate integrity.
The main thing to remember is that people matter—not just because they’re human beings but because they’re the very foundation of your business. How would you feel if every other aspect of your company was the same as it is now, except you no longer had customers? You probably wouldn’t be in business anymore! By shifting from a transactional mindset to a relational one, you’ll find many new opportunities for growth and connection with others who will support your small business long into the future.
1. Show People You Care
If you genuinely want to rebrand as a “people first” business, you’ll have to make sure it’s evident that people are at the center of what you do every day. It won’t be enough to say so; your brand will be defined by your decisions and how they affect other people. Here are four guidelines for showing people that you care:
- Your employees deserve benefits. That means paid time off, a living wage, and being treated with respect in the workplace.
- Customers need to feel welcome. That means listening when they have a problem or complaint and taking action to fix it, whether it’s through replacing a defective product or offering them a refund.
- Communities need support. Even if your company is small or local, don’t forget about the communities around your company—they can provide insight into what your customers want and help you grow as a brand by spreading positive word-of-mouth referrals about your business (or negative word-of-mouth if they’re not happy with how they’ve been treated).
Competitors don’t have anything on us! Every industry has competitors; some have more than others. But no matter who else is in the market for what you do, remember that competition isn’t necessarily bad—it makes businesses stronger when done correctly! Also, keep in mind there are still things differentiating yourself from competitors will give consumers choices that ultimately benefit them in addition to helping companies compete with one another for their attention.
2. Help Your Neighbors
One of the best ways to show that your business is “people first” is by being a good neighbor, both in real life and online. In real life, this means supporting local businesses whenever you can. If there’s a convenience store down the street from you that’s having trouble staying afloat, buy your candy bars there for a month instead of at the big chain grocery store. Every time you drive past that corner coffee shop on your way to work, stop by and buy a cup for yourself and one for your coworker. You’ll make their day, which will make yours better, too, even if it takes an extra five minutes out of your hectic schedule.
Being an excellent digital neighbor means supporting businesses on social media and within the community. Be “neighborly” on social media apps, such as liking relevant posts they share on Facebook or Instagram (within reason—no one likes someone who leaves an absurdly long comment under everything). Retweet their tweets or comment on their YouTube videos. It only takes two seconds but can mean so much! This adds to your own brand by showing up as a genuine community member and not just a shameless marketeer or “sale hound.”
On top of being genuinely kindhearted people who care about other people’s livelihoods, there are other perks of being community-minded neighbors as well: these business owners are likely going to remember what you’ve done for them (and tell everyone else about it!), which could come back around in beneficial ways later – like when your business needs some support too!
3. Be Authentic and Open Up
It should go without saying that you can’t grow as a business without being authentic. But what does it mean to be authentic? Well, for one, you need to open up about challenges. All companies have them, and your customers know this. They will be more likely to trust you if you’re honest about your business. So if you don’t make the cut with your first business attempt, you have to swallow your pride. Learn from your mistakes and start over with a different model instead; just let it be known! You’ll still keep the trust of your audience while also telling a story that maybe they can relate to on their own entrepreneurial journey.
We’ve seen brands build trust with their audiences by being open about mistakes. They were honest about the situation and how it impacted their customers (which was pretty minimal) and told their followers that they would fix the problem right away. They showed their audience what they valued most: honesty over perfection by being open about this mistake, which helped their community feel more connected and relatable to their brand.
4. Be a Leader in Your Industry and Community
While it may seem counterintuitive to put your competitors first when you are a leader in your industry, you will automatically set yourself apart from the competition and see tremendous success for your business. You can do this by sharing helpful knowledge with other companies or offering to mentor a new business owner. You can also become an industry expert by dedicating time to writing articles and speaking publicly about your passion. Your focus should always be on helping others instead of promoting yourself. When people believe that you have their best interest at heart, they will naturally become loyal customers and supporters of your business.
You can also use this time to take on a leadership role in your community. Whether you sponsor the local food drive, volunteer at the animal shelter, or chair a committee at the local Chamber of Commerce, please take advantage of this opportunity to show people that there is more than meets the eye for making money as a small-business owner.
5. Reply to the good actions of your team and do good for others
When someone on your team does something kind or good, recognize it. Make a big deal because they went the extra mile to help a customer or made someone’s day with a small gesture. Post their good deed on social media and tag them in it, too! When you highlight your employees’ work, they’ll know that their efforts are being recognized and appreciated—and it will encourage others to do the same.
Likewise, if there is an opportunity for you or your company to be charitable, do it! Hosting charity events for local organizations or donating some of your products to help those in need are great ways to give back. Your business can’t survive without its community—so why not show them how much you care?
So What Are You Waiting For?? Make “People First.”
It’s always refreshing to step back from the detailed, day-to-day tasks of running a small business and consider the bigger picture “ecosystem” your company operates. Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a new outlook on making your small business more successful, we think that these five tips will help you get there. They’re not some overarching solution for success, but they are a great starting point for businesses seeking to put “people first” into action. So, what are you waiting for??
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