Rooted in Conviction
A Part of the Equity Bank Entrepreneurial & Leadership Series of Dose Of Leadership
The Entrepreneurial & Leadership Series of Dose Of Leadership, brought to you by Equity Bank and Richard Rierson, is all about sharing inspiring and educational interviews with today’s most relevant and motivational leaders. Rierson talks to leaders and influence experts who dedicate their lives to truth, common sense and courageous leadership.
An ending can sometimes be an opportunity for something new. At least that was the case for entrepreneur Bill Maness. After being let go early on in his career, he decided to start his own company so he could do things differently. He knew how he wanted his employees and customers to be treated, so in 1997, he founded Syndeo Outsourced HR in Wichita, Kansas—and hasn’t looked back since!
Today, Syndeo serves 5,500 work-side employees and has made Inc 5000’s fastest growing companies list for two consecutive years. And Maness isn’t stopping there.
In his podcast interview with Richard Rierson, he explains how Syndeo got to where it is today and how he stays grounded in his principles to keep the success engine turning.
Businesses that are dependant upon the CEO to function aren’t businesses that will be around for the long haul.
When Maness started Syndeo, he had just two employees but kept the focus on infrastructure before he went after growth. He knew that infrastructure was key if he wanted his business to be scalable. From there, they got their first seven clients. The four of whom that remain in business today are still Syndeo clients—a true testament to the kind of company Maness has built.
But to be truly scalable, Bill knew he had step away. He described it as working “on” the business, rather than working “in” the business.
“The classic entrepreneurial downfall is that because we’ve built something, we know so much, and we think we need to be involved,” Maness said. “The biggest transformation occurred when I decided to get out of the way.”
Getting out of the way wasn’t easy for Maness, though. He said it was his biggest learning curve. In fact, at times, he said he even wondered if he was the right person to run the company.
“I had to become the right guy for it,” Maness said. “I wasn’t that guy naturally.”
What Maness did for his company was no small feat. He had to transform into the kind of leader his company needed. And the intent behind his leadership has allowed Syndeo to grow at an exponential rate.
No leader is perfect, nor will any leader achieve perfection. But a great leader will recognize his or her weaknesses and use them to be better tomorrow.
Early on, Maness made a decision that Syndeo was going to be the biggest, best HR service provider in the state of Kansas.
He turns down business all over the country because he’s committed to serving Kansas-based customers. For Maness, the relationship value of staying local outweighs an expanded footprint, especially in the services industry.
He gets challenged, even by his own team, to serve other markets remotely. But he’s quick to point out the 7,800 businesses in Kansas that fit their client profile. Syndeo serves 100 of those businesses now, so from Maness’ point-of-view—the hunting is good in his own backyard.
“I don’t want to grow for growth’s sake,” Maness said. “Otherwise, you’re not focusing on who you are as an organization and what do you do well. It takes a lot of work to get there.”
New employees start their first day at Syndeo with Bill Maness himself. It’s a tradition that’s dear to Maness’ heart and one he believes is critical to setting the tone right on day one.
Maness covers some essential “ground rules” with new employees but mainly wants them to leave their meeting with one key feeling—a sense of family.
“If you want to work in an entrepreneurial organization, you have to have a 'why.'" And a sense of family is necessary in order to buy-in and make the dedication to do the job well every day.”
Syndeo employees look out for one another like a family would. They are given the freedom to make decisions and they want to see each other succeed.
Maness understands the importance of employees having ownership, which is why he pours trust into every employee, regardless of their tenure at Syndeo.
“I’m a give-trust person,” said Maness. “I will give it and then just hope I won’t be disappointed. I believe that everybody has really good things in life to give. We just have to figure out how to get that from everybody, together.”
He says that employees simply cannot reach their full potential without giving them your full trust. And with a company that is continuously gaining steam, it seems that Maness is certainly on to something.
Wanting to start your own company? Maness has a piece of advice.
“There’s nothing that replaces hard work and never accepting failure.”
Click here to listen to the full podcast with Syndeo’s Bill Maness.