Strong woman

By David Riddell

A few months ago, I opened my own Big Frog Custom T-Shirts and More franchise, which is a concept that specializes in custom decorated apparel using cutting-edge technology and personalized service. It was my first time owning my own business, and the custom apparel industry was completely new to me. However, that did not get in the way of my business thriving right from the start and continuing to do so today. I may not have been an expert in making T-shirts, but through my decades of experience in customer service and retail management, I understood what it would take to run a successful small business.

So how did I achieve such early success despite having no previous background in design or t-shirt making?  I structured my business around my employees’ strengths, because if there’s one thing that I have learned in my many years of managing small businesses, it’s that you can’t do it alone.

Here are 5 ways I was able to help my business become more well-rounded and efficient by molding it around each of my team member’s strengths and weaknesses.

1. Spot Your Shortcomings

The first thing effective business leaders must do is realize their own shortcomings. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses will help you identify how the rest of your team will be most able to help your business.  In turn, it will also allow you to understand what would make most sense for you to focus your time and attention on for the strongest ROI.

2. Fill in What’s Missing

After you have identified what your business is missing, seek out potential employees with strengths that fit into the areas where your business is currently falling short.  In this sense, you are looking for the pieces that are able to complete the puzzle – rounding out what is missing from your ability to achieve multi-faceted success. For example, since I had zero background in art or design, I hired individuals who excel in that area so that I could focus on what I do best – management, sales and development.

3. Chemistry is Key

No matter what people can offer, they have to be able to fit together and function cohesively.  Even if two peoples’ sets of skills are complementary, that does not guarantee compatibility.  While you are indeed looking for someone who is a fit for what your business needs, they also must be able to fit into your business’s culture.  Make sure you are finding personalities that mesh, and that each part of your operation can properly coexist so that one aspect does not impair another.

4. Communicate Constantly

In order for businesses to remain efficient, there must be a constant open stream of communication. That way, everyone is able to stay on the same page about what is working and what is not. Even during training, I maintain a back-and-forth open dialogue about how our business can improve.  While that might be uncomfortable for some at first, it’s much more valuable to be able to approach your business from an open and honest perspective.

5. Instill Accountability

Entrust your team with a level of responsibility that allows them to feel personally accountable for the overall success of the business. That will allow them not only to contribute what they are best at, but to do so passionately and with conviction. By hiring multiple employees full-time with benefits, I was able to ensure that I accomplished just that.

David Riddell is the owner & operator of Big Frog Custom T-Shirts and More of Asheville, NC.  Prior to becoming a franchise owner in early 2016, he spent nearly 25 years in the multi-unit retail industry. Less than a year into becoming a franchise owner, he has already been recognized by Big Frog as a top franchisee. David and his wife, Christina, who often lends her accounting expertise to David’s business, have been married for the past 25 years and are excited to be back in Asheville, where Christina grew up. They both attended college extremely close by. You can connect with David here.