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how diverse is your micro-business?
How Diverse is Your Micro-Business?
The benefits of a diverse workforce are well communicated. But if the opportunity for diversity doesn’t present itself, can it be an unrealistic aim for a micro-business owner?
We have all become more familiar with the significance of diversity in the modern world. It’s a no-brainer that a diverse workforce is better for all. Diversity can promote ideas and innovation. It can restore that everyone is valued regardless of ethnicity, gender, ability or perceived position in society.
Still, it can be challenging to introduce this into a micro-business with one to ten employees. In many cases, just one employee and some infrequent freelancers. Regardless, diversity is still an area of development in micro-businesses.
If you are a large multinational, you have natural access to various opinions and perspectives. Although this doesn’t guarantee that they are sought or listened to. For micro-businesses, this can be more complicated. Working in a small shop, or running an online business in a similar part of the world, leads to a lack of unique perspectives inside your business. With that in mind, it may seem that a micro-business is at a disadvantage. If you’re running a one or ten person business, it can be challenging to be diverse. Making matters worse, many micro-business owners fall into the trap of hiring people who they like, and who are like them.
Thankfully, it is possible to renew your thought process about team diversity once you understand how good a diverse team is for your business and how simple it is to create one. However, there is one more dynamic to diversity to consider – physical and social aspects only make up a fraction of diversity. The rest lies in the diversity of thought.
What good is promoting diversity if everyone thinks the same way? The key to successfully implementing diversity is to have a team with diverse backgrounds and diverse thoughts. Only then will authentic innovation and growth be achievable.
Why diversity matters
Aside from being simply the right thing to do, growth orientated micro-business owners understand the many benefits of a diverse team and know that it’s part of business growth. A diverse team brings diverse viewpoints and perspectives to the company in terms of age, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientations, gender, gender identity, and national origin.
Among other things, these factors can help you develop new products and new services to provide to customers. The variety of your team’s backgrounds, cultures, and upbringings are a strategic advantage that you can maximise.
The advantage of diversifying your thinking
Hiring diverse employees or freelancers can benefit your business as differing world views, experiences, and skillsets expand, resulting in new ideas and opportunities. These can boost your audiences, as customers often find it more appealing to work with someone they can relate to.
Someone who has lived only in one city, one county or country won’t have the same experiences as someone who has lived abroad or travelled. Great ideas come from unique perspectives.
Thinking safe won’t change the world, but diverse thinking can. Steve Jobs once said
Consider the impact of inventions like the iPod or the smartphone. Its businesses like this have diverse teams willing to challenge the defy the possibilities, try things new, and potentially failing before succeeding.
We each have a natural trait we are born with, with other forms of diversity attained through life events. Diversity of thoughts can come from prior work experience, things we’ve learned from schools, parents, and friends. In other cases, we have diverse thoughts from a variety of perspectives and belief systems.
8 Tools to Make Diversity Work in Micro-Businesses
Micro-businesses need to embrace an appreciation of differences. Finding common ground despite our differences is a way to build team rapport. Micro-businesses must work differently under this new model. They need to attract, train, hire, manage and promote differently.
1. Vision and Mission Statement
A vision statement and mission statement can help you identify the people who believe in the same aspirations but have different views on how to achieve them. Something as simple as having an inspirational vision and mission statement for micro-businesses can work wonders for attracting diverse talent. Research by Deloitte has revealed that mission-driven businesses enjoy 30% more innovation and 40% more engagement from employees.
A vision and mission statement is a short paragraph that summarises what you do, who you do it for and why you do it. It is ideal for clients, competitors, partners and talent to see why you’re different, what you stand for and what your ultimate goals are as a business.
2. Improve your recruiting strategy
It is one thing to plan to be diverse, but if you can’t attract a more diverse team, you are setting yourself up for a lesson. Start by rethinking your hiring strategy.
- Language. For example, masculine-type words like “hungry” and “dominate” are often less appealing to female applicants.
- Flexibility. Employees or freelancers strive for flexibility and being able to achieve a work-life balance. Could you give them the options to be flexible?
- Personality assessment. This tool will help you measure personality traits, motivations, and skills.
- Expand your reach. Expand your search using third-party websites and online job boards instead of relying on the same recruiting channels. Check schools and community colleges, or Acadium short term apprenticeships.
- Work with partners. Create a board of trusting peers you’ve met at networking, hire an HR freelancer to manage the hiring process or work with organisations that specialise in diversity.
When training new hires, the onboarding process should emphasise the core values and how the employee upholds those values. If the owner of the micro-business doesn’t behave against those values, the team dynamic will fail. Start within your leadership style first before hiring.
Great micro-business owners push teams to new heights of creativity and encourage task-focused outcomes.
4. Feeling valued and expressing vulnerability
Most importantly, the micro-business needs to cultivate an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their views and genuine selves. These teams can challenge business strategy, products and preconceived ideas with unique and different viewpoints.
As much as the business feels like it is your baby, micro-business owners don’t need to control every decision. Allow your team to shine and maximise their perspectives. Trust the process of learning from each other.
You should also be aware that diversity can lead to conflicts among your team, so you have to prepare for this eventuality. For example, creatives are more likely to associate with other creatives and technical people tend to communicate better with other technical experience. Another conflict can be between age differences or socioeconomic backgrounds might weaken open conversations and team morale.
Vulnerability and feeling valued will ensure no one is left out and that team members work better together. You may not always agree, but strong relationships will help overcome the disagreements, allowing the team to reveal the best action plans.
5. Celebrate team differences.
Run regular diversity awareness training and events or mix it into the monthly/quarterly team meetings. You could add a thank you email to the end of week sign off whereby each member sends a thank you to a team member for the efforts and why they appreciated it.
6. Active listening
“This is the way it’s always been done” is the business growth killer mentality. Avoid team members feeling undermined, overlooked, and dismissed.
You can keep it simple by talking with your team over breaks or video calls, giving them the space to express themselves without any preconceived biases or assumptions. You could host a meeting that encourages everyone to speak up or run a team survey.
The key here is to listen to understand and not to respond. Listening to your team will ignite a beautiful relationship – take advantage of this leadership skill.
7. Reflect, rethink, reboot
Plan time in the diary to reflect on what worked and what can be improved. The most straightforward method is gathering feedback from your team such as an online survey. Equally, acknowledge those who no longer work with you to see what areas need to be improved.
8. Teams aren’t just employees
Go To Yellow was built with one person and grew to 9. All of which were freelancers and apprentices or skill swaps with other micro-business owners. Everyone was treated as an employee.
We also found diversity in an advisory board, in mentors from business-led programs and focus groups. The latter is what led us to create The Yellow Mastermind service.
The Yellow Mastermind solves business growth
At The Yellow Mastermind, we have six diverse micro-business owners per team, working together to build a reciprocal relationship without the increase in payroll.
When I’m forming The Yellow Mastermind Team, I look to achieve diversity in three key ways:
- All members of The Yellow Mastermind Team come from different sectors and are non-competing – this ensures openness and trust within the group.
- The Yellow Mastermind Team are created with all genders, cultural and neurodiversity – this makes for a much better dynamic in the room and improved insight.
- Different sized micro-businesses working together – they often bring different solutions to solving the same problems.
Suppose you get a team of people who provide this diversity and are all the decision-makers within their respective micro-business. The quality of thinking and insight is more significant than in a networking group or a group of people who look and think the same. Too often, networking groups drift into a situation where they hear their thoughts echoed around the room and struggle to break through their current growth, geography, product/service diversity.