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TitleThe Entrepreneur's Guide to Hiring and Building the Team (The Entrepreneur's Guide)
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Page 1

The Entrepreneur's Guide
to Hiring and Building th e


Ken Tanner


Page 2

The Entrepreneur’s Guide to
Hiring and Building the Team

Page 104

How do you balance the individual’s needs for personal expression with
a company’s need for having a consistent image? Here is a system I like
that accomplishes both objectives: Pick a style of uniforms and then allow
the employee to choose a color or design. For instance, you may decide that
your retail sales staff will all wear knit golf-style shirts and casual cotton
pants, but each employee can pick from several colors of shirts matched
with khaki or black pants.

While we are on the subject, I’ve never understood the concept of
‘‘casual Friday.’’ You have established a dress code that serves to support
your business image. If the dress code were crafted to project a certain
image to clients, why would you want to project a different image on Fri-
day? If we tell employees that casual Friday is a reward, then we are imply-
ing that the normal dress code is a punishment. If casual dress supports
your image and motivates your employees, perhaps the exception should
become the rule.

Show the Pride

Let me tell you about a recent family vacation. The Tanners packed up
for the East Tennessee mountains and rented a nice cottage tucked into a
hillside. There were many exciting and interesting activities that week,
including whitewater rafting, roller coasters at Dollywood, and seeing a
bear meandering through the Smoky Mountains. (We also took a boat ride
on a five-acre underground lake. Our tour guide told us a remarkable fact:
‘‘This cave is 200,000,003 years old,’’ he declared. ‘‘That’s amazing,’’
I responded. ‘‘How can they date its age so precisely?’’ He pondered my
question briefly and then replied, ‘‘I really don’t know, but when I started
working here three years ago they told me it was 200,000,000 million years

We had a great time on this vacation and did a lot of exciting things. Do
you know what my ten-year-old daughter and her friend Emma enjoyed
the most? It was a tour of the factory where Mayfield milk and ice cream
are produced. I also enjoyed that visit, possibly for some other reasons than
the girls had.

My enjoyment occurred at the visitor’s center where logo souvenirs were
sold and memorabilia was proudly displayed. There were photos of four
generations of Mayfields and pictures of their home-delivery trucks from
1910. Advertising and news articles were proudly framed, and charts were
posted that showed photos and breeding records of some of their prize
cows. A model of a revolutionary contraption stood in the middle of the
floor. (Invented in 1955, the machine removed all odors and odd tastes from
milk, which gave the company a strong competitive advantage.) Outside
the main entrance, lying under a shade tree, was a six hundred-pound
bronze sculpture of Maggie, their award-winning ‘‘founding cow.’’

Another thing I enjoyed about the tour: the employees’ faces. The tour
guides showed obvious pride in their company, but I’m not talking about

Sharing a Common Culture 89

Page 105

them. It was the faces of the line employees we passed as we walked
through the machinery. They all beamed as they made eye contact, enjoying
the celebrity. They were proud that they worked for a company that people
thought was interesting and enjoyed the status that comes from being on
display as an important part of that company.

Mayfield Dairy has done a remarkable job of displaying its heritage, cre-
ating a deep sense of pride in its employees, and in building even greater
brand loyalty with its customers.

While you cannot match their creation today (after all, Mayfield has had
almost a hundred years to build this heritage), you can certainly duplicate
their intent. You can also celebrate your heritage, even if you have been in
business for only few months. Here are some ideas:

. Display a model of the buildings or stores you will be operating.

. Hang your picture prominently in the lobby along with a group photo
of your initial team.

. Place a mock-up of your product or invention in a display case.

. Keep a scrapbook in your lobby.

. Frame print ads and run them chronologically down the hallway. Also
frame any news articles written about your new company; add to this
collection as years go by.

. Are you a franchisee? Borrow the image of your parent company. Go
ahead and hang a picture of Colonel Sanders.

Have fun brainstorming with your team and adding to this list. Spend the
weekend gathering everything you can get your hands on and you’ll have
an impressive display of your heritage by Monday. Doing this will give
you a strong ego boost, but also look at the impact on your employees.
Overnight they will have gone from having a job with a new start-up
company to being an important part of a firm that has a wonderful connec-
tion to its past. Then you can dream of someday having a six hundred-
pound bronze cow lying outside your front door.

During my freshman year of college—1974—a couple of eager, tail-
wagging entrepreneurs opened a new restaurant near the campus. Their
pride of ownership was evident as a crane hoisted their sign above the
modest building. Large bright letters announced the name of the new
establishment, but I was amused by the words just beneath the business
name: Since 1974. At the time, I just thought they were being tongue-in-
cheek about the whole thing, but I had a different perception of the sign
when I drove past it thirty years later. They were still in business and the
cute joke had become a symbol of the company’s remarkable heritage.
My attitude shifted from amusement to deep respect.

90 The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Hiring and Building the Team

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