Stretching Your Dollars

Hands On

Stay in touch with your business.

Your business may not be the size of a Fortune 500 company--but that doesn't mean running it is any less demanding. And as your company grows and you get even busier, you may find yourself losing touch with your customers and employees. It's a problem Stan Clark is well aware of. He and a partner were the only two employees when they opened Eskimo Joe's, a small bar in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1975. Today, the company is a multimillion-dollar conglomerate that employs about 600 people and includes three restaurants, several retail stores and a mail order operation.

Simple awareness of the risk of becoming insulated goes a long way toward preventing you from losing touch, says Clark. But he also advises owners to be pro-active and look for ways to eliminate barriers that may arise.

"There's no substitute for listening and interacting with customers and [employees]," Clark says. He visits all his company's departments and locations regularly, sometimes even pitching in to help, and personally conducts the new-hire orientation program.

"The leader-as-servant mentality is so right," says Clark. "The bigger you get, the harder it is to stay close to the people you depend on for your company's success. There's no magic, no trick to it--you just have to do it."

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Stretching Your Dollars.

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