5 Ideas For A Happy Business

Jay Owen Business Tips, Company 2 Comments

happy young manIn business, it’s easy to get focused on one thing: PROFIT. Tips for a more successful, more profitable, more powerful business are everywhere. Now, don’t get me wrong. I like to make money as much as the next guy. And a business that isn’t profitable isn’t a business for very long.

That is unless you’re some mega-Internet startup with a bunch of folks sinking millions into you. But let’s be honest, that’s few and far between.

So here’s a new twist on a common idea. Instead of tips for a more profitable business, what about tips for a more HAPPY business? Businesses don’t have feelings, so I really mean the people of the business. But people usually ARE the business.

There are a few things that have helped our company work in a culture of happiness and I’d like to share them. Here are a few tips that I think are helpful for our team, and I hope they are helpful to yours.

1. Flexible Hours
2. Passive Communication
3. Flexible Locations
4. Unlimited Vacation
5. Workcation

FLEXIBLE HOURS
Working nine-to-five is great and all, but what if it’s 78 degrees and sunny outside? Maybe that’s a good time for a picnic and not for work. What about when it rains all day and your spouse is out of town? Maybe that’s a good day to put in an eight-to-midnight kind of run. Or maybe you can’t sleep and you want to knock out some work from midnight to 3 a.m. while it’s QUIET and no one is interrupting you? (I’m looking at you Joe)

We love flexible hours at Design Extensions. It lets us take time to have breakfast with our kids, or lunch with our spouses, and still be able to pound out some serious work when needed.

Now the work still has to get done, obviously, but WHEN it’s done should be as flexible as possible.

Clearly, this doesn’t work for everyone and every business. But try to find a way to be as flexible as possible, and you may find a whole new level of happiness.

PASSIVE COMMUNICATION
Phone calls, instant messages, text messages and in-person meetings are one of the biggest time and productivity killers of business.

I know, I know, sometimes you really do need to meet, call, or INSTANT message. But MOST of the time, passive communication is far superior in so many ways.

By passive communication, I mean any type of communication that does not imply the need for an immediate response.

“Instant messages” are for “instant answers.”

Before you pick up the phone, fire off a text, or set-up a meeting, ask yourself, “Could this be handled with an e-mail or a post on Basecamp (or similar project management system)?”

When people are interrupted or feel their time is being wasted or demanded, they get unhappy. Unhappy isn’t fun. Give others on your team, vendors, and clients the courtesy of replying on their own time if you don’t REALLY need to know the answer RIGHT NOW.

FLEXIBLE LOCATIONS
We’ve never had a central office at Design Extensions. That “offends” some people or makes them uncomfortable, but MOST people like that we’re not paying for extra overhead that we don’t really need.

Some days we work from Starbucks or Panera, some days from our bedroom, or home office, or by the pool. Location doesn’t matter for us; the work gets done thanks to great tools like Basecamp, Skype, and the magic of e-mail. (PASSIVE FOR THE WIN!)

This won’t work for retail, hospitality, or related industries. But for many service or consulting type businesses (like us), it’s magic. At this very moment I’m sitting on a plane hammering out this blog post. Work from a plane, work from the beach, work from the place that gives you energy and MAKES YOU HAPPY.

UNLIMITED VACATION
Here’s a crazy idea. Give your team unlimited vacation. I’m not kidding.

If you hire good people that care about their job and are responsible, they won’t abuse it.

If you’re an owner, you have unlimited vacation (and by that I mean you never get to go on vacation). But really, you do. You can manage your own schedule. If you need to take a Friday off to do WHATEVER, you find a way to go do it. Trust your people enough to make the same kind of decisions when it works.

Granted, the work still needs to get done and there may be times of heavy work load where no one can take time off for a couple of weeks, but hire good people and you don’t need to worry about how many days they’re logging for vacation.

WORKCATION
Speaking of vacation, buy one for your team. A few years ago, we started what we call “WORKCATION” where the whole team takes a week off together. We bring our families and our laptops. We work a little, we play a lot, and we may, or may not, consume a few beverages.

The above remote locations and flexible hours can also have a downside of not having as much in-person interaction. That stuff is important, even for a hermit crab like me.

We like to rent a big beach house and just hang out with everyone for the week. The actual location and details may vary, but the idea is to just get together and have a great time. This is something we all look forward to and we keep adding and improving to it each year.

Budget for it. Make it happen. WORKCATION will make for a happier business!

These are just a few of our ideas, we hope they help you and welcome your comments.

Comments 2

  1. Great post Jay! This sounds like ROWE to me. http://www.gorowe.com/ I tried it and stumbled. It takes special team to get this to work with a special leader. My experience has been this environment is earned and I gave it away = got burned. Just like every business decision I turned the experience back to myself and am trying to figure out when a team earns this. I still believe when you treat humans like humans, they will reward you.

    1. Post
      Author

      Thanks Chris! I’ve not see gorowe.com before but will have to check it out. There is definitely a certain personality type these ideas will work for and won’t work for. Hiring well is a tough lesson for any business owner and experience is often the best teacher.

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