At Evolution Capital Partners, accountability is the foundation for everything that we do. In fact, “accountable to our community” was naturally the first core value that the Evolution team established. This value is intertwined into our team’s professional and personal lives, and it’s demonstrated daily through our hard work, resourcefulness and follow-through.
Being accountable to the communities in which we work and live is one of our main strengths at Evolution. Without holding ourselves accountable, everything else in our business would fall apart—which is why it’s so important to Evolution and resonates with me personally.
What Does Accountability Mean?
Being accountable to our community can mean a variety of things to different people. To me, it means being helpful and leading our communities and constituencies at all times. Our team members bring their own areas of expertise, and many of us bring experience and knowledge with building, running and sometimes even selling our own small businesses. This ultimately helps us understand the challenges and rewards of running a small business and enables us to provide invaluable guidance.
Most business professionals know that it is not always smooth sailing. This is why accountability is so critical. It requires that individuals maintain their professionalism and take responsibility for their actions and ideas, even when things may not go exactly as planned. At Evolution, this value is a central part of our business. To be accountable to our communities, we must accept responsibility for the interactions we have with each of our investors, our partner companies and our team members. At times, when a current approach isn’t working, we must also know when to pivot and make changes to improve, so it truly is a constant requirement for our team and the broader success of our organization.
Who Makes Up the Community?
To the Evolution team, the word “community” refers to many different types of people that we are involved with on a regular basis. The key groups that make up our community include:
- Investors: Our investors are essential to our business. They are passionate about small businesses. They trust us with their capital and believe that we’re going to make the best decisions moving forward to transform businesses over the long run.
- Founders and CEOs: The founders and CEOs of our growth companies are really looking to us to partner with them in a productive way throughout the investment period. They must trust us with their business that they’ve worked so hard to build.
- Management Teams: The teams at these growth companies need us to be professional, follow through on what we say we’re going to do for them and promptly communicate any changes.
- Evolution Team: Our internal Evolution team members must be able to rely on and trust one other, clearly communicate, and serve as accountability checkpoints for one another.
- Local Communities: The communities in which we work and live consist of local Cleveland businesses, as well as the communities where our partner companies are located. Evolution team members are also involved in mentoring others and educating people about private equity and small business growth.
How Does Accountability Come to Life?
For our team to be committed to and capable of making our communities successful, each individual must hold both themselves and others accountable. This is reflected in the team’s constant willingness to go above and beyond, and it comes to life daily in many forms such as:
- Taking ownership and responsibility for good and bad ideas;
- Pivoting if things don’t work out as originally planned;
- Being available, managing time, and prioritizing responsibilities between investors and founders;
- Clearly communicating with all parties about priorities and responsibilities;
- Volunteering to take on new and challenging tasks; and
- Lifting up and motivating others.
What are My Tips for Creating Core Values?
If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur who is in the process of crafting your own core values, I’d strongly recommend listening to your team and letting the conversation evolve over time. It’s important that people’s feelings and beliefs influence the values so that they are genuine. Otherwise, it may appear that you are simply trying to check a box or even fit your company into a box that is not truly representative of your people or organization. If possible, try to stay out of the conversation as much as possible and let your team talk openly. You will likely be surprised about the insights they provide!
While sometimes difficult in business, patience is also required. It will take time to come up with core values that are the right fit for your organization. If genuine and relevant, you’ll start to see the values come to life and be brought up organically in performance reviews and new hire interviews, as well as while serving customers and making important business decisions. When the values start driving other conversations and being demonstrated daily, you’ll know they are authentic and align with your organization.