I started my business four years ago after I learned that small businesses owners do not have the same access to knowledge as managers at larger companies do. While working on a community project to provide skills to small business owners I experienced a young business owner whose business was literally crippling because he had no clue how to build an engaged workforce. I realized at that moment that the lack of skills and knowledge needed to be fixed in order to build a better local economy. I gave up my nice paycheck at Accenture and started Cultural Chemistry.
As any new entrepreneur, I learned a lot during the first years. I met many challenges that I expected and others that I didn’t. However, four years later Cultural Chemistry is still alive and kicking. Now I find it necessary to share three of the most important lessons that I myself have learned in the lifetime of my company:
Resistance will happen.
It was my goal to provide HR Organizational Development services to small businesses. Quickly I learned that people believed that you cannot run a profitable HR firm for those companies. The first year I was working on creating a service delivery model that could be both beneficial for the client, as well as for Cultural Chemistry. Together, with my new clients, we tested if we could use the same models that I was using with my past multinational clients (refer to this blog post). The first year brought an amazing learning curve with it. I was not focused on sales, but rather just on understanding how to bring value to small business owners at an affordable price.
When working on developing systems that would work for small businesses, I learned that we could not partner with traditional HR Firms & Professionals. When I worked with business owners to create strategies that engage their employees, HR Firms would immediately make everything impossible by creating standardized policies or by throwing some kind of roadblock in that did not need to exist. This is why the decision to become a full service HR Consulting firm was made within the first year. At the end of year one I had 5 clients, and my network in New Hampshire was expanding rapidly.
Your ability to grow is your voice.
Making sure that business owners had the resources to create and manage workforces that fit their values meant focusing on developing the HR Community around me. By focusing solely on my clients and expanding how many I served, I was not going to accomplish or fulfill my goals for Cultural Chemistry. Only through focusing on the HR Community as a whole would I change how people management is done and actually improve upon it.
However, who is going to listen to a person standing on a soapbox while only representing a handful of clients? Unless it is for entertainment, the answer is no one. I realized that operating a one person firm was holding me back from my long term goals. I needed to grow my firm and develop a team in order to spread my reach to more companies. In my second year I moved the company into the Alpha Loft (previously, Abi Innovation Hub) and in 2013 the company moved into its current home at Manchester’s Millyard. Also, the number of clients grew steadily while our sales doubled.
Your team is your business.
The most difficult challenge my business has faced is finding the people with the right mix of education, experience and attitudes to serve our clients. Currently I am very fortunate with the balance of my team and the passion they have for the Cultural Chemistry, its purpose as well as its clients. They understand that growth does not always happen between 8am and 5pm and that everyone’s input matters and will affect the future of the business. Just loving the idea of Cultural Chemistry is not enough, they need to be passionate about what our clients stand for and they need be willing to roll up their sleeves every day and work hard.
We do love the outdoors, taking time to relax and in the winter we even have a few days where we all ski together every year. While we often have to be ready to support our clients from early morning to late at night, we try to play just as hard as we work. Without a team to rely on, Cultural Chemistry cannot exist. With this team in place we are able to maintain our quality and attention while growing significantly year after year.
What the future holds…
We are looking to the future: To make sure that we start educating the HR Community we are busy with launching our very first HR Boot Camp! We are going to turn the way HR Professionals gain new skills upside down and let them work on their development in a 3 day camp style learning experience. We keep expanding our horizons by offering classes for entry level employees as well as various target audiences based on occupation and industries and through opening new locations such as our new Portsmouth, NH office.
We are looking for clients who truly put their people first in their business and understand that employee management is the key to success. We are ready for all new challenges and clients that the future brings. The question is: Are you ready for Cultural Chemistry?