For small business owners and entrepreneurs, it’s easy to feel solely responsible for the success of your business. Often, it’s your capital invested, or your name on the front door. However, there’s an alternative to the solo sprint. With the right mindset and approach, running a business can look more like a relay race with those around you empowered to run their part of the course.
We know small business owners are looking for advantages and support as they navigate their own course. As we develop Walmart Business, we continue to ask small business owners how they want to achieve their goals and consistently hear a theme of “wanting to stay in control, while empowering others.”
Delegation increases empowerment and job satisfaction
A really great example of this kind of race is the Hood to Coast Relay in my home state of Oregon. Teams of 8-12 people run nearly 200 miles from the snowy peaks of Mount Hood to the beaches of the Pacific Ocean. The key is to find a sustainable pace, and trust your teammates. Building a business is similar. It’s a challenge that requires a well thought out plan, clear roles, excellent handoffs, and trust in your teammates.
I also consider this relay analogy when it comes to team building. Sometimes I take my turn to run a leg of the race. But mostly, it’s up to me as the leader to delegate and place team members where they’ll perform best. In my opinion, a great coach (and a great leader) is one who helps each individual see that they are capable of more than they thought, and helps the team collectively accomplish more than the sum of their individual outputs.
Research shows employees are eager to run their leg of the race. According to Entrepreneur, empowering your teams upgrades their overall performance and enhances engagement and job satisfaction. This is increasingly important as a recent Gallup poll found that the number of engaged full- and part-time employees dropped four points between 2020 and 2022 to just 32%. While delegation can feel like giving up control, empowered execution drives business performance, and can create more freedom and focus for small business owners.
Customer empowerment creates business clarity
Your customers have their role in the race as well. There’s an opportunity to empower them by asking questions and using their feedback wisely. We continue to seek the help and advice of our customers as we build Walmart Business. This feedback channel requires us to stay humble, and not assume we have the answers. And it has helped us be self-reflective about what we’re doing to meet their needs, and where we need to lean in or even course correct.
Ask your customers to provide honest feedback and you will find new ways your business can improve or grow. Truthfully, hearing feedback isn’t always easy. It can confirm that, in some respect, we’re missing the mark on how we serve our customers. But knowing that is the first step in recovering from a small stumble, rather than allowing it to turn into a larger gap—one which could well cost you the race.
Empowering others increases your resiliency
Empowerment, more than any other business technique I’ve observed and used, is the key to winning the race. It can be tricky to harness because it requires trust in others, but the benefits are huge. Your teams are stronger, customers are more satisfied, and you’re personally re-energized to meet the demands of your business. As you build your organization for the future, make sure empowerment is at the core of your business plan.
Ashley Hubka is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Walmart Business.