Ever wonder what makes a run-of-the-mill business into a success? In partnership with Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), we chatted with last year's Inner City 100 and Staples Business Award winner Bithenergy to explore what has helped make Bithenergy successful, and what other businesses can learn from their growth and accomplishments.
Recently, our own Workplace Index examined employee engagement and productivity as they relate to factors like company culture, social responsibility, employee input, and more, so it was no surprise to find that Bithenergy leaders Coretta Bennett, Chief Operating Officer and Daniel Wallace, Vice President, touched on some of these same things in their recipe for success. So what makes a business—particularly Bithenergy—tick? Here are a few of the insights:
Company culture matters. A lot has been said about company culture, from the importance of making your workspace reflect your values, to how culture can contribute to (or help combat) job burnout. But does that really bear out when you look at a successful company like Bithenergy?
"When I looked at joining Bithenergy, I saw potential and opportunity," said Bennett when asked what drew her to the company. "The atmosphere and environment and culture are positive,"
Located in the historic Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore, Bithenergy's space and culture is far from the "standard" and "dull" space many workers describe their workspace as, and it shows. "Bithenergy is very unique as a space and as a company," said Bennett.
Make an impact on the world around you. Bithenergy's choice of location is no accident, and their determination to make a difference goes well beyond their sustainable business initiatives. Wallace said what drew him to Bithenergy was "the opportunity to make an impact and make a change." And he's not alone—nearly a quarter of workers say that doing work with a positive societal impact motivates them to do their best work.
"With all the unrest in Baltimore, we wanted to make sure we are representative of the community," said Wallace. "We pride ourselves on our philanthropic work, and I think that if we don't give back and set good examples, we'll have a generation lost."
You're only as strong as your business partners. Just as the leaders and employees of Bithergy are committed to strengthening the community they call home, they depend on their business partners to be committed to help strengthening their business.
"One of [our CEO's] books is on strategic partnerships," noted Wallace. "You've got to have partners you can work and grow with, and that allows you to grow at a faster pace." Comparing finding the right business partners to dating, he added, "Once you get to a point where they blossom, it's quite important, and with bad partnerships, you need to be able to end it."
Bennett agreed. "Relationships tie right into your reputation," she added, stressing the importance of treating business partnerships with the same respect and consideration they would give employees.
While there's no single way (or set of ways) for a company to be successful, the words of wisdom shared by Bennett and Wallace are certainly valuable to any business, whether small or large, as they seek to obtain or maintain success in today's ever-changing business world.