Want A Successful Business? Be A Servant

Yesterday, I tripped over Dave Ramsey on Youtube. He is a successful businessman and lecturer on finance. He is also a Christian and uses the Bible to introduce business principles.

I heard a Youtube by Dave Ramsey on the importance of being a servant. In this Youtube, I heard things that we all know, that make perfect sense, but it’s one of those cases of hearing someone saying it that makes the biggest impact.

Dave Ramsey gave the example of a car repairs garage owner. The first garage owner is well trained. He (or she) does the job well, he charges a fair rate and he is kind to the customer. The customer can’t believe their luck! A great garage owner! No way! We all know how rare these people are! So the customer tells all of his or her friends. The friends use the garage, and they can’t believe their luck, so they tell all of their friends. The garage becomes a successful business.

Compare this garage to the garage owner who isn’t well trained, who takes several days to do a simple job, who turns a few screws, over charges the customer and he is nasty to the customer. He won’t have any returning customers. The business will fail, and the garage owner will blame the failure of his business on the economy, not being in the right neighbourhood and the customers being bastards.

Being a servant to others is good for business. Operating out of a good heart is good for business.
Dave Ramsey quoted the Bible, that leaders must be servants of the people, not concerned with their own position in society or in the community.

I also stopped and considered that there is a difference between being a servant and being a slave. Being a servant in spiritual terms means that you do things for others – you serve – because you want to. Being a slave means that you have no choice, you are owned by someone or something else and you have no control over your actions and what you can do with your life. You can be a slave to ego, to money, to debt, to impressing others, to living in your family’s shadow. There are many things that can enslave a person. A servant of the community is someone who wants to help others out of a pure heart.

This also reminds me of when I used to watch Small People, Big World. I had a thing about learning about people with dwarfism so I loved watching this programme about a family of dwarves in the USA. The father was a pumpkin farmer and the wife was a teacher. One episode covered the issue of work, and it was said that dwarves tend to do well in teaching and in business.

Another programme I watched featured a man who is a computer tech guy and a dwarf. He said he had a successful business because he did a great job, and because people remembered him because he is a dwarf. Whenever a business had a computer tech problem, they would say, “Call that dwarf guy!” He had a lot of repeat customers because his physical appearance was memorable and because he did good work.

Both in my online teaching and in my cleaning work, I make more money because of my attitude, pleasant manner, sense of humour and quality of work.

In my online teaching work, most of the time, students just contact whichever teacher is online, and some have said recently that they have enjoyed the lesson with me more than lessons with other teachers, that they have learned more and it was just a better experience. I’d like to see other teachers’ lessons to be able to compare mine to theirs, but that is not possible. What I can take away is that I am on the right path, and I do have returning students, and sometimes have a fully booked schedule with returning students, because I do something that other teachers do not.

In the main cleaning business I work for, I thought when I first got the job last summer that the job would provide me with a few hours here and there and would be a bit crap like most cleaning jobs are, but that it would be a stop gap until I found something better. I met the mother of the family who run the business in a Starbucks and we chatted about immigration – she was an immigrant and I had been an immigrant – and life and the universe.

One year later, the cleaning business has grown from one student hall and one wing of an airbnb huge block of flats to private homes, a care home and more airbnbs spread across the city. I am going to have crazy hours available to me over the summer, and I have had some supervisory roles in recent months as the company has grown. The family who run the business would like the business to grow so much that my time will be taken up entirely with supervisory work. That is a nice dream, to have so many properties under our care that we need someone to check everything is running well.

And check that the workers are all well. As I have said before on this blog, when a new worker starts, I have a basic chat with them, and then two days later, I start to ask “What is the dream?” What does the person want to do longterm? How are they going to achieve their goals? What training or education do they need? I am often able to help the person to access training or point them in the direction of where they need to go for the next step on their journey. Having had so many different jobs in different fields has made me useful for something at last!

Why have I been chosen to take supervisory duties and why am I given more work when I ask for it? Because I work hard and do my best. If plans change, I don’t complain, I get on with it. Plans changed four times yesterday due to another worker messing about, so I walked to and from two different locations and did the other person’s work. Today, I volunteered to do a nasty job. Last month, I volunteered to do another nasty job. I roll my sleeves up, I fill in when someone else has called in sick, I don’t throw sickies, I help out.

So when it is snowing and I’m stressed out with how difficult it is to get to work due to the weather, I get an hour’s pay just for turning up. Because I have volunteered to do the nasty job I am getting more in my pay packet. The manager often adds more money into my pay packet as a thank you for my continuing work.

This employer is a great employer.

I have worked for awful employers where I have been treated like I am nothing, faced open homophobia, faced a lot of bullying, and so I quit those jobs. Those jobs made me so unhappy and I was not able to do a good job because of the stress I was under. Stress does affect performance. When you are unhappy in your work, it shows. In a job like that, you are operating from the slave mentality.
When you are in a job where you are valued and the employer shows you frequently that they value you, you can operate from a servant mentality. You can give generously because you have something in your heart to give. You are able to do more and you want to do more because you actually like your employer and you want your work to reflect well on them as well as helping them. It becomes a mutual relationship of giving and taking between employer and employee.

I never thought of this situation before. I had always seen an employer as the tyrant that I have to put up with and try to not displease too often. According to another talk by Dave Ramsey, this is another way that families stay poor, because working class families teach their children to fear authority, teachers, bosses and more. Wealthy people are taught that the world is there to help them. Police, teachers, bosses and more are there to help them and serve them. This difference in mindset affects directly what a person expects from the world.

I was taught to expect that bosses are horrible people, and so I accepted bosses who were horrible people. I can count on one hand – the hand with a missing finger – how many good bosses I’ve had. Nicola, Barry, Sharon and now my cleaning employer. Out of 25 years of working in the UK, I can only count 4 good bosses. I worked for Barry and Sharon at the same time.

OK, I hope I have given you something to think about. I am definitely thinking more! There are good employers out there. There are employers who are not homophobic or racist. There are employers who actually care about their workers. Go and find them!

When you have a good employer or you have your own business, operate out of a servant mindset. Be memorable for the good work that you do and the great person that you are. Do a good job, work hard, be nice and see the rewards coming back to you.

Best of luck!

About catherinehume

Catherine Hume: Writer, social care worker and a liver of a life less ordinary.
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