Leadership Lessons Learned:  A Successful Business Owner Reflects on What Works

​(Note: Periodically we will be highlighting organizations and leaders that exemplify best practices in the areas of management, sales, organizational development, customer loyalty, strategic planning and other related topics.)

Hunter Crute, founder and CEO of Carolina Digital Inc. (a company that designs and develops software and hardware products in the telecommunications industry), has a proven track record in running successful businesses, is an angel investor, board member for several companies and volunteers his time as a mentor for the Council for Entrepreneurial Development.

I recently sat down with Hunter and asked him to share a few of the more powerful lessons he learned over his 20 year tenure leading Carolina Digital during its early stages of development through years of sustained growth:

• Be keenly aware and vigilant of how the money flows throughout your business – “Running an organization requires that you have financial assets to meet the daily demands that come your way – those that are planned and the unexpected surprises as well. This means having a simple and accessible system in place to monitor your cash flow, outstanding receivables, fixed and variable costs, expenses, inventory, payables, sales, etc… Managing key financial metrics for your business on a frequent basis keeps you in touch with what’s going on and generates the questions you need to ask your team to make adjustments and move powerfully forward.”

• Protect your brand – “This starts with the quality of professionals you have working on your team. Hiring and retaining the right people that reflect and convey the values of your company and positively influence how your customers and stakeholders view your organization is critical to its long term success. From the daily tasks of building quality products and the flawless delivery of your services, to finding ways to be more efficient, it all matters in how you are perceived by others. At the end of the day, your team is an extension of your brand

• Timely and accurate communication – “Effectively communicating with your team, customers, suppliers, etc. is crucial to getting at the ‘truth’ of a situation so good decisions can be made. Honest, open and clear expectations must be set with each stakeholder in your business – internal and external. Many problems with employees and customers are due to poor communication. Business moves especially fast in today’s digital world, so asking the right questions at the right time and truly listening to what is being said is an essential ingredient to success.”

• With adversity comes opportunity – “Most people would say your product or service must be revolutionary and clearly better than the competition. I disagree in part. I believe you need good people who are willing to take whatever adversity comes their way and seize the opportunity to succeed. I can think of many companies during the sales cycle which convinced customers to buy their products/services but lost their loyalty quickly because they did not embrace the adversity of a customer complaint. You see, customer complaints are an opportunity for your organization to quickly resolve it in a way that leaves the customer satisfied and loyal to you.”

• Remember to take the time to have fun – “The word fun implies playing with amusement; with ‘lighthearted pleasure’. I think it is the leader or the key executive’s responsibility to remind their team (employees) of why their jobs at your company are important and seek out ways to make them fulfilling and fun. Take time to celebrate your organization’s individual and collective successes along the way. Cultivating an environment where success breeds success fosters bringing ‘lighthearted pleasure’ to everyone.”