At SCORE, we consider it one of the best first steps an entrepreneur can take. It’s our SCORE Big seminar and it’s scheduled for 6 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 17 and 24 at the Advance Business and Manufacturing Center at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay. Registration is available at www.greenbayscore.org.

Held three times a year, the seminar helps participants evaluate business ideas, and get an overview of business plans, insurance, financing, legal issues and marketing. This year, there will also be a new section on developing a strong business culture.

Taught by Miles Anthony Smith, MBA, whose book, “Why Leadership Sucks: Fundamentals of Level Five Leadership and Servant Leadership,” will be released Oct. 31, 2012 (www.milesanthonysmith.com ), the session will help entrepreneurs change focus from strategy to culture. “So often we focus on strategy and that is important, but too little time is spent on the culture of the organization and hiring the right people,” Smith explained.

He says that culture is defined as the norms and behaviors in the organization, and he believes in servant leadership where, instead of looking out for our own interests first, we meet the needs of others. Smith listed the essential steps in creating a strong culture:
• Recognize your weaknesses. Entrepreneurs are filled with passion and optimism for their idea, but they can’t do and be everything. This is where Smith recommends humility and a careful assessment of areas where help is needed.
• Hire the right people. Smith looks for people who are emotionally healthy, a high EQ versus a high IQ. The interviewing process needs to dig deep to uncover who the person really is and what motivates them, things that would not be mentioned in a typical interview.
• Equip personnel. If you don’t give employees the right resources, Smith believes you are setting them up to fail. That means a satisfactory budget, training and opportunities for growth.
• Set expectations. Employees need to know what you expect of them and where their authority extends.
• Get out of the way. Once you equip them, get out of the way so they can work within the confines that have been set. This is empowerment, and it allows them to grow and excel.
& bull; Show appreciation. Smith says this should be a priority. It doesn’t have to be big things, but there is something simple, yet powerful, in telling people you appreciate the work they do.
• Letting people go.

This can be the hardest part of creating a strong culture. If you hire someone and give them everything they need to succeed, but they are not performing, it’s time to let them go. Smith says it tells your performers that you won’t sacrifice the many for one bad worker.

Smith says that these steps will foster loyalty and trust, and make the business stronger and better. “It puts everyone else, not me, first,” he said. “This is how I try to approach life. If you start with that, everything else falls in place.”

Tina Dettman-Bielefeldt is co-owner of DB Commercial Real Estate in Green Bay and district director for SCORE, Wisconsin.