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Corporate and Commercial calendar    Oct 11, 2023

Thursday Thoughts for SMEs: The Need for Humility.

Thursday thoughts for SMEs. The need for humility. Why SME owners and founders should embrace humility.

Humility and LinkedIn are not 2 words that are often seen together. Usually it is a place where we share content, knowledge and the “wins”. 

In the last decade, “entrepreneur” has become synonymous with showing the world how much money you have, how fiscally irresponsible you can be and how that leased Ferrari which costs more in interest per annum than the luxury car tax threshold is “just soo good”. 

It strikes me that we don’t really discuss humility and the role that it plays in growing a sustainable business. 

Humility: the feeling or attitude that you have no special importance that makes you better than others

I would like to suggest that business owners who embrace humility grow their business faster, create more sustainable habits, reap greater rewards and have a truer perspective on the value of a dollar. 

Humility Drives Business Growth 

The phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” is bang on. Admitting that you as a founder are not the master of everything is a critical step to engaging experts who are. 

Moneyball is one of my favourite movies. I love it for a number of reasons but at its heart it shows the power of the right team, with the right skill set who combine at the right time. 

Acknowledging that you cannot do it all will force you to engage others. Practically this may mean that you engage the right advertising agency, director of sales or workshop manager. It forces you to consider who you need in your team to drive business growth. Your lawyer, advisor, accountant, recruiter, insurance broker and finance broker suddenly become the speciality players on the team. 

I suggest that by humbly admitting that you are not an expert in everything and engaging experts, you multiply their effect and thereby fast track business growth. 

Humility Creates Sustainable Habits 

Similar to the effect humility has on business growth, I would like to suggest that humility creates sustainable habits. 

If we admit that we are not machines that can constantly work without rest, rejuvenation or downtime we will actually create habits that enable sustainable, high functioning habits. 

There is a trend at the moment of work boasting. You see it in the AFR interviews with CEOs etc. They all seem to get up at 4am, eat nothing but goji berries, drink nothing but black coffee, juice cleanses and natural red wine and then go to bed at 7pm. No one ever says “I have crap sleep because of the kids, I roll out of bed and hopefully get to the gym but sometimes I don’t. Some days I head straight to the local cafe, get myself a massive coffee and a toastie full of delicious cheddar and ham, roll into work and then eat way too much at that corporate lunch, have too many beers, get home around 8pm after I have missed the kids bedtime again, log onto work emails whilst watching a terrible show on TV and get to bed far too late because I really just needed to finish the episode of “Alone””. 

The reality is that if we humbly accept that we are a human with a pulse, we will create more sustainable habits. We will allow ourselves to not get to the gym everyday, eat some delicious food and even indulge on some reality TV. Running a business is a marathon not a sprint. Create sustainable long term habits. It starts with humbly admitting our own standards might be too high! 

Humility Results in Greater Rewards 

These are both financial rewards and non-financial rewards. Humility recognises the role that others play in building our businesses and improving our lives. 

So much of what we do and how we get there has very little to do with our direct effort and much more to do with those around us. Recently the AFL and NRL grand finals provided great insight into the very nature of the concept of team and the collective compounding effect of team mate efforts. 

If we celebrate and truly acknowledge others' success then our organisations will be much better places to work and the rewards will flow. Let’s celebrate the sales manager having a great month, the receptionist’s excellent client skills or the workshop manager's parts management process. Whatever the success, we need to celebrate it. 

The NRL and AFL teams would not be on that field if not for the support staff, back office staff and the members of those clubs. 

Humility results in greater rewards both financially and more importantly non-financially. 


In running an SME, humility creates a greater appreciation of the dollar. We know how hard it is to win work and how hard it is to be paid for the work. We also know how much of a privilege it is for clients to pay us. 

Humility is such an underappreciated trait in business ownership and organisational leadership. It drives business growth, creates sustainable habits and results in greater rewards. 

I think humility could be the most important trait in organisational leadership and a train that if embraced can rocketship team culture, business growth and can make the team fire on all cylinders. 

So how can you demonstrate humility this week?

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