When you own a company, there are many hard things you have to do including firing employees.

Brandon Dennison, owner of Coalfield Development, a community-based non-profit that gives individuals the ability to learn and grow while improving their communities (even during economic decline), talked with Positively West Virginia host, Jim Matuga, about the decisions an owner has to make for the sake of the business. Learn a few tips on how to run a small business below. 

Celebrate your employee’s success.

From individual employees to company wide success, short and long term success should be celebrated.How to Run a Small Business

“We’ve seen crew members go from being literally homeless to walking across the stage during graduation, to being the first in their family ever earn a degree, getting full-time employment and becominghomeowners,” Dennison said.

Celebration can turn into higher employee morale and and keep your employees around for longer.

You can boost your employee’s esteem, build stronger relationships and bring mutual respect.

Be a mentor.

Your employees look up to you as someone who has been where they are. They want to know how you got where you are because maybe they are searching for where they want their life to go.

“In a professional sense, we (Coalfield) hire folks who are searching for what they want to get out of life,” Dennison explains. “I think it’s my job to lead by example. It’s my job to ask questions and have a really supportive space.”

To become a mentor, establish what you are looking for in a mentee. If you can’t find someone within your organization that is looking for a mentor, reach out to your old college. After you’ve found a mentee, sit down with him or her and set expectations. Be open with your mentee, answer their questions and help guide them on their journey.

Don’t be afraid to terminate an employee

Letting an employee go is never an easy decision, but it is one that should be done with professionalism.

Best practices include holding this talk in a private area that is close to an exit, bringing tissues and water, as well as having this talk earlier in the week and work day.

Dennison told Matuga about the first time he had to fire an employee, which resulted from a crew member skipping their mandatory six hours of higher education class time.

Coalfield Development uses a 33-6-3 model work week: 33 hours of paid labor, 6 hours of higher education class time, and 3 hours of life-skills mentorship.

“I realized that our crew member had been skipping their classes. One crew member in particular, we were concerned with the direction of his life. He was the ringleader,” Dennison said. “It felt like a breach of trust. I felt like we worked so hard to get this thing up and going.”

“As a result, we had to make our first termination, and it’s never an easy decision,” Denison said. “It never gets any easier. Out of that challenge, our crew grew closer.”

Have an outlet to reflect.

Needing an outlet to reflect on what kind of leader you are is important. Whether that is talking to someone, exercising or even writing your thoughts down in a journal–find what works best for you.

“I journal,” Dennison said. “I think it keeps me connected to what I’m doing in the first place.”

4 Pieces of Advice on How to Run a Small Business 

Dennison was a guest on Positively West Virginia. Click here for the full podcast.

  • Celebrate your employee’s success.
  • Be a mentor.
  • Don’t be afraid to terminate an employee.
  • Have an outlet to reflect.