When people start a new business there are lots of things to think about and there is never enough time in the day. Conversations about diversity and inclusion can feel like things that large organisations need to work on to fix the problems they have. The reality is that it’s actually something that needs to be thought about right from the start to create a business with inclusion in mind from the beginning. Here’s 5 ways you can include everyone right from the start:
1. Include different people
To start with, your startup business might just be you. Or you might be in a partnership with a few people. Think about who you are including in your business right from the start to give you different perspectives and opinions. Including people who are different to you will help you to create your strategy in a way that appeals to everyone. To start with, this might be the people you talk to about your business idea to help you. Create a network that includes a wide range of different people. This will mean that those people who are different to you will challenge your thoughts and ideas. You will disagree and it will take time to re-think things. It’s these challenges that will shape what you do to ensure success. And as you grow, make sure you hire people who are different to you to create that diverse, inclusive team which will ensure success.
2. Test out your ideas on different people
Now think about the product or service you are creating. If you want to sell to a wide range of people you will need to think about all of the different types of people in the world. What are their motivations? Their thoughts? Their desires? Their needs? The people you want to sell to are likely to be different to you, well at least some of them will be! So thinking about including different types of people at the ideas stage will help you to develop products and services that appeal to a wide range of people. And test out your ideas on a wide range of people. Whether that’s formally through things like focus groups, or surveys, or informally by asking people or on social media. Be sure to test your ideas on people who are different to you to see if they are interested in what you are going to create.
3. Use different working methods
The huge benefit of starting out for yourself is that you are not bound by the processes, procedures, and working methods of an established organisation. You have the advantage of creating things from the start. That means you can be creative in things like working hours, working locations, how you create ideas, how you run meetings, or even whether you have meetings at all. You can use different technology to help you collaborate with people and you can try out new ideas for how you store information about your ideas. In fact in everyway you can think of, you have the opportunity to build inclusion in right from the start. We speak from experience, for the Watch This Sp_ce team, we deliberately have no set hours. We work when we want to. Now that might get more difficult as we grow, but we can build in that same ethos that we started out with, of not setting rigid times of work.
4. Offer help to people
When you start a business, you face that tricky hurdle of being on your own with lots to do.
You need help with all kinds of things and everyone wants you to do things for free. What you can do is include different people right from the start. You can offer internships and placements to people to help your business. What you can do to make this an opportunity for those people is to offer mentoring, training and guidance so it’s an exchange of help. Many start-up businesses find their first employees in this way. By offering opportunities to people who might not have experience in the things you need help with, you can help people as well as helping your business grow. And be creative, some of that help exchange could be simple things like asking for opinions on things you are doing in exchange for guidance you can offer. Mentoring is a proven way to create inclusive workplaces, by helping people develop their skills.
5. Communicate with everyone
How you tell people about what you do is a key area where you can build inclusion in right from the start. Start with your vision and mission, are you thinking about everyone in how you talk about this? Is your vision and mission inspiring for people? And what about your communications about your business? Does your social media appeal to a wide range of people? Are you writing blogs and content to reach people? Are your images and videos showing only certain types of people, or have you really thought about everyone? How you communicate right from the start is one of the core ways you can build in inclusion right from the start. If you start out with this by thinking about inclusion, this will set how you reach people, the perception people have of your business and your reputation.