5 Trends in Entrepreneurship that Never Go Out of Fashion

Erick Slabaugh

Fast money, big dreams, and the never-ending hustle. This is what entrepreneurship is all about, right?

For some, perhaps, but I take a different view.

To me, entrepreneurship is about more than making a quick buck. It’s about building something that lasts. Something that makes a difference in the world.

At the age of 21, I took control of the debt-burdened family business my parents started many years earlier. I was young, inexperienced, and way over my head. The business was on the verge of bankruptcy. Over 35 years later, Absco Solutions is today one of the most respected firms in our industry. We have weathered recessions, market crashes, and a variety of other challenges that would have destroyed most businesses.

Today, I can say with certainty that the key to our success has been the way we leveraged certain entrepreneurial strategies that are often misinterpreted as mere trends. In reality, these are tried-and-true concepts that have always worked—and will continue to work—no matter what the economy or business landscape looks like.

If you want your business to thrive for a lifetime or for generations to come, here are five practices and areas of focus that have the power to fundamentally transform your business.


The Power of a Handshake

Homer, the great epic poet, wrote about the power of a handshake in The Odyssey. In the story, two men greet each other with a handshake that symbolizes their alliance. This is one of the oldest examples of a handshake in literature, but it still resonates today.

A handshake is much more than just a physical gesture. It’s a sign of trust and respect. When you shake someone’s hand, you are saying that you are willing to work together for mutual benefit. This simple act can be the foundation for a strong business relationship—one that will weather any storm.

On the surface, a handshake is just a physical act, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a sign of trust, respect, and cooperation. The act itself imparts a sense of confidence and goodwill. It’s why the handshake remains one of the most powerful business tools you have at your disposal.


Core Values (And How they Pay Back)

We can’t achieve great things without a clear purpose. Even still, while on a journey to achieve great things, there can be a thousand different paths to take. But if we don’t have a clear sense of why we are doing something, how can we expect others to gravitate and rally around it?

When we know our “why,” everything else falls into place. “What” and “how” become much easier to figure out once we know “why.” Simon Sinek’s now often-quoted phrase sums up the importance of “why” perfectly: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

The first part of Sinek’s quote is the part most people remember. Yet it’s the second part of the quote that ties into what I know is the driving force behind any remarkable business, person, or movement: core values.

None of us make decisions based exclusively on logic. It’s emotions that sometimes (or always, depending on the person) factor heavily into a decision. Does the other person feel good about doing business with us? Do they trust us? Do they feel like we have their best interests at heart?

These are the questions that we must ask ourselves. The only way to answer them is to have a strong set of core values that guide everything we do. If our “why” is a beautiful and loving home that people love spending time in, our core values are the foundation on which it rests. 


Hybrid, Remote, or In-Person? Look Within for Answers

I have personally seen the value firsthand in supporting flexible work environments. However, this is simply what has worked for us over the course of the pandemic so far. It won’t apply to everyone, and rightly so.

It’s important to note that not all is roses and sunshine, either; our setup continues to challenge us daily. Remote, in-person, and hybrid deployments each come with their own hurdles. Sometimes, these are swept under the rug to “sell” one specific setup type through fear or uncertainty over alternatives. 

Therein lies the problem: external bias and deciding for others.

I’m not in the position to dictate what works for other businesses, nor would I want to provide a clear answer on what’s best for you. Doing so would take away the chance to learn from and listen to those within your organization who know it best. Why miss out on such a great learning opportunity? 

Personally, I’d much rather leverage well-informed internal insights rather than act on what worked for someone else in a totally different company. Data over dictation.

What I will say is that now is the time to experiment if you have the resources and manpower available to do so. Try sourcing feedback from team members and use it to make well-informed decisions to shape your deployment. This is what helped us figure out what type of setup would be the most feasible for us in the interim.

Don’t be afraid to dig deep, either; are there compliance risks tied to going hybrid or fully remote due to your industry or application? What about security, permissions handling, and otherwise? Can these be addressed with peace of mind in a remote setup, or do you require an in-person office where file sharing, sensitive meetings, and other tasks need to be done in a centralized location? 

This article from the Harvard Business Review poses important questions to ask ourselves and others. Even though the questions focus on internal meetings specifically, they can be retooled to help determine the type of setup that would work best for you. I highly recommend checking it out.


Find the Right Growth Pace for Your Business

We humans tend to be an impatient bunch. We want things to happen quickly and efficiently, and that’s especially true when it comes to our businesses. We want to see results, and we want to see them now. I’ve found that often the way we operate our businesses directly reflects this mindset.

I’ll not repeat the rabbit and the turtle story (but if you want to read about it yourself, I mention it here), but the moral of the tale is still relevant today. The rabbit may have been faster, but the turtle won the race in the end. That being said, I must be clear that this won’t be the case for every business. Slow and steady growth isn’t guaranteed to be the ideal approach for all. No good in generalizing when every business is unique. 

The takeaway from that tale isn’t necessarily about speed, but rather healthy and sustainable growth. If you’re growing in a financially stable, sustainable manner and are happy with the pace, then that’s great. The same applies if you’ve experienced more rapid growth than expected but have a happy, well-supported team and can handle it. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. 

In order to figure out a pace that works for you, it’s best to refer to an internal, financeable rate of growth, one based on your cashflow and profit. Therefore, my point from the previous section also applies here: trust in raw internal data and your team rather than the dictations of others. 

It doesn’t make sense to say that every company should grow slowly as, for your business specifically, it could mean missing out on time-sensitive opportunities. On the other hand, especially if net profit and margins are narrow, it may be better to play it safe.

I have found the golf adage “Drive for show, putt for dough” to be applicable. While we all want to grow our top line revenue, what goes to the bottom line from that effort is more important. A 300 yard drive is wasted if it takes 4 puts to finish out the hole.


Truly Taking Care of Employees & Teams

On the subject of teams, Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This is especially true when it comes to businesses. A business is more than just a collection of individual employees. It’s a team, and each member of that team has an important role to play.

When you take care of your employees, you’re not just taking care of individuals, you’re taking care of the entire team. And when you take care of the team, you’re taking care of the business as a whole.

This sounds simple enough, but it’s not always easy to do. Here are a few tips to help you take care of your employees (and your business) in the best way possible:

1. Communicate regularly and openly with your team.

2. Ensure everyone feels like they’re part of the team and that their contributions are valued.

3. Show your employees that you care about them as people, not just workers.

4. Encourage a healthy work-life balance for all members of the team.

5. Invest in your employees’ development and growth.

When you take care of your team, you’re investing in the future of your business. And that’s something that will pay off for years to come.

No matter what niche or industry your business is in, these “trends” may wax and wane in popularity depending on the current of the social tide, but they will never go out of fashion. It’s these five practices (among others) that will always hold true and be relevant in today’s business landscape. A business that’s meant to last will always be built atop a strong, stable foundation. Often, that has absolutely nothing to do with “trends.”


Erick Slabaugh is a Serial Entrepreneur, Board Member, Advisor. He serves as the CEO of Absco Solutions, a 40+ year market veteran in the facility security and fire-life safety industry, as well as CEO of FCP Insight, a cloud-based enterprise software solution for electrical contracting businesses. A former member of the Global Board of Directors, Erick is a long-standing member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Seattle chapter.

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