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When EntreLeaders Erik Regan and Bill Kenney decided to open Focus Lab in Savannah, Georgia, they made a vow their company would never be ordinary. Today, just three years later, the pair can say business at their web development, branding and design firm is anything but usual.
How unusual is it? In an industry where working incredibly long hours is not only common, it’s almost mandatory, the partners make it a point to send their people home on time each evening with no at-home projects.
“I’ve heard so many horror stories of friends who worked their tails off and lost their marriages in the process, or worked like crazy and still lost their jobs,” Erik says. “We wanted to build a company that does great work but everybody goes home on time.”
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“We tell our customers, ‘We’re not going to be the fastest shop you work with,’” Erik adds. “There are always going to be companies out there that can get it done faster than us. The quality of work we do far outweighs the speed in which we do it. If we have something due at the end of the day and we can’t get it done, we go home. Then we say we miscalculated something, note it, and make it better the next time.”
Another way to make it better was to attend EntreLeadership Master Series. The pair was first introduced to the brand when they attended a one-day event in Atlanta. They made a vow they would attend the week-long series taught by Dave. In 2012, Erik traveled to Orlando to attend the event. Since he returned from EntreLeadership Master Series, there have been a number of changes at their company.
The Golden Rule
One of the most powerful policies the business leaders put into place is actually one of the easiest to implement. They began following the Golden Rule: Do to others as you have them do to you.
“It’s very simple but still escapes a lot of people,” Erik says. “We continually ask ourselves, If we were in their shoes, is this the way we would want to be treated? It can be for customer service to the way we structure our contracts to the way we write emails—just all over the place.”
The simple rule also applies to Focus’ team members, who have picked up the principle too. To ensure everyone is on the same page, it’s been factored into the hiring process. “We want to see a sense of generosity in the people that we hire,” Erik says. “It’s a trait we look for.”
Communication Is Key
One of the core values of EntreLeadership is that communication is key. You can’t have a winning organization without it. Erik and Bill took this lesson to heart. They intentionally make time to connect with their seven team members. Every other week, the two leaders spend some one-on-one time with each staff member. The format is wide open. “We talk about literally anything,” Erik says. “It doesn’t have to be related to work.”
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The company also holds a staff meeting each Friday to keep the team up to speed on what’s going on. It’s designed as a roundtable session, so everyone has a chance to pitch ideas.
Leaders Are Readers
Dave is a huge proponent of reading nonfiction leadership/business books as a way to grow his business. He’s not alone. The average millionaire reads a book a month. Erik says this lesson has been one of the biggest influencers on his business and his life.
“I’ve never been much of a reader,” he says. “But I listened to Dave and others like him who say, ‘You need to be reading.’ It opened my eyes to a whole new world."
Whole new world, for sure. The positive impact of self-improvement has led Erik and Bill to give their team one day each week to work on their own personal goals as long as they are company-related. There is a small library full of books at Focus, and the owners encourage their staff to write for the company blog as a way to learn and keep current.
“Our services/revenue structure dictates that if we are not spending time on client work, we’re not making money,” Erik says. “Learning is that important to us.”
Since returning from Orlando, Erik has seen a remarkable difference in their company, especially when it comes to their team. “I walked in on two team members talking about how much they love working here,” Erik says. “It was just the coolest thing in the world.”