photo gatorBy Karen Axelton

Every day my son’s elementary school has a schoolwide assembly to start the day. At the assembly, students repeat the “Gator Goals” (the school mascot is an alligator). I’ve heard 500 kids yell the Gator Goals at the top of their lungs most weekday mornings for the past two years, but only recently did it dawn on me that they are also excellent goals for how you should run your business.

G = Go the extra mile. If your customer service doesn’t already go the extra mile, you need to start doing so.

A = Act responsibly. Everyone in your business needs to take responsibility for their actions rather than pointing fingers or shifting responsibility onto someone else with “That’s not my job.”

T = Think before you act. Yes, as small-business owners we’re often in a hurry, but actions have consequences. Whether it’s dealing with an employee who’s screwed up, signing a contract or launching a new product line, take time to think it through.

O = Offer respect. If you want to get respect from your employees–or you want them to treat the customer with respect–you need to offer them respect as well. It’s the foundation for your business.

R = Respond like a leader. Your employees look to you to set the tone. But in the best businesses, they, too, will respond like leaders if you’ve given them respect and empowered them to act responsibly.

S = Serve and contribute. Everyone on your team should be working for a greater goal–serving the whole (not just their own advancement) and contributing to the success of the business. Beyond that, for your business to succeed, it must  serve the customers and contribute something of value to the world.

Put these goals into action for yourself and your team, and your business can’t help but get good grades–er, make the grade.