Here’s why putting people at the centre of your business is more than a romantic ideal.

There’s an adventure tour company based in South Africa. Their focus is responsible, sustainable tourism.  

They have a small, hard-working and enthusiastic team who make ordinary experiences extraordinary. To the point that they’ve won a Trip Advisor ‘Certificate of Excellence‘ four years in a row. 

Why did they win?

Their service approach attracts lots of happy customers from around the world, who share their happiness on social media.

Why do their customers do that?

This small business gives more than it takes. It follows a people-centred approach to business.

And why is this relevant to you?

People are at the heart of your business. By people, I mean both your clients and your employees. And for a small business, where you’re trying to achieve a lot with less people, this is vital to remember.

Here are a few ways you can charm the people in your life, with digital help:

1. Your Customer

Well, let’s face it, without them, you’re Norman. In the digital realm, it’s easier to strike up a conversation with potential customers, wherever they are in the world. Make it easy for them to find you, by going to where they are.

This may mean doing a bit of googling and ‘soft stalking’ on social, or poring over stats, to see where and when your ideal customers hang out. When you find your people, don’t ‘shout’ your message at them. Chat like ‘normal’ people do. Approach them in a way they’ll understand. Help them, be meaningful, be useful, be real.

In other words, give more than you take.

2. Your Team

Your employees are your most important secret weapon for meaningful customer connection. If they are not (mostly) in love with what they do, you’re going to strike out, more than you win. And lacklustre loyalty could leave you stuck without a key connector, when you need them most.

There’s a difference between needing your people to work hard, and working them into the ground. Especially when small businesses are often reliant on individuals to fill more than one role.

Make their lives easier by giving them the tools to work efficiently within a pressured environment. Invest time to find out where their frustrations lie. Help them get over the obstacles. Encourage enthusiasm by being enthusiastic.

Again, give more than you take.

Using Appropriate Technology to match you with customers AND focus the way your team works, helps YOU give more than you take.

The idea of Appropriate Technology comes from EF Schumacher’s 1973 book Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered”I’m using the idea slightly out of context, but I believe it’s relevant to online marketing and business sustainability.

In a 2011 Guardian article, Madeleine Bunting reflected on the relevance of Schumacher’s people-centric view, our need to connect, and the argument that it’s only a romantic ideal:

“… ‘small is beautiful’ is an idea that keeps reappearing … because it incorporates such a fundamental insight into the human experience of modernity. We yearn for economic systems within our control, within our comprehension and that once again provide space for human interaction – and yet we are constantly overwhelmed by finding ourselves trapped into vast global economic systems that are corrupting and corrupt.”

So, how do we enable sustainable, meaningful relationships within, and outside of, our business dimension?

How do we communicate and connect in ways that are truthful, trustworthy and transparent?

How do we make it about more than just business?

It’s simple. By giving more than we take.

I don’t believe this is a ‘romantic ideal’.

This is at the heart of being human. Because people need people. 

Incidentally, I first heard this idea of ‘giving more than you take’ on a Fizzle podcast interview with Mark Canlis (of Canlis Restaurant).

Mark’s ideas around having a “hospitality mindset” are mind-blowing!

So, back to the adventure tour company…

People are at the heart of their business – both their customers and their staff. A service mentality is the root of their success.

And it follows through in the way they handle their digital communications and content marketing. They have an active presence on social media, going to where their customers are. And the whole team gets involved in writing blog stories and taking pictures for the company website.

Using technology that is appropriate for their needs, they share the load. They love making it about their people, and they have fun doing it.

So, give a thought to turning those ideals into reality. How are you providing value and meaning for your people?

P.S. If you want to give more than you take, please feel free to share this post :)

[Image Source:  Bill Davenport – “Meeting at the Playground”]