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Winning teams don’t just happen, they happen because you build them, like a jigsaw puzzle, working out the best match of everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, so that bit by bit you end up with a team that can cover just about any eventuality or demand that gets placed on it.

As the director of a small business, that ‘fit’ of people is even more important because you often have to rely on your own instinct and judgement about who is right for the team and for the company. Killing Kittens is not a typical business because we operate in a niche industry, catering for independent women and couples seeking sexual adventure. When you operate in an industry like this, you have to work even harder to prove your values and authenticity because there are many ingrained misconceptions about the industry not being ethical or trustworthy.

What I look for most in the people I work with is that shared passion for what we stand for; we want to give people a safe, non-judgemental community that allows them to be themselves and enjoy adult interaction on their terms. The reason our membership has grown so successfully is because of that sense of belonging to something bigger, being catered for and being looked after. It is my employees who help to create that sense of community, whether it’s confirming a party venue or promoting a couples’ workshop.

Flexible working is the cornerstone of every successful business, not just in terms of working hours but how people work. I know some of my workers will be up answering emails at 10pm at night, but the trade-off is not having to be at the office desk by 8am the next day. Flexibility comes in all guises; if you can allow people some scope to fit work around their lives, you help create a culture where employees are more willing to flex their time to help reach important deadlines and launch dates. The key is allowing this flexibility to work at an individual level, rather than insisting everyone goes home at 4pm on a Friday, for example.

Killing Kittens was created to deliver something a bit different and empowering for women, so of course that empowerment extends to my (almost exclusively) female staff. As a mother myself, I recognise that women often get left to deal with the day-to-day balancing act of working and raising children. In my opinion, this often makes them incredibly efficient with their time and energy, making them a huge asset to any team. Many of the women who work for me have told me that working differently – at home, early mornings, late at night – was the only way that they could consider returning to work. The frustration for so many women is that they really want to return to their careers, but lack of flexible working options and high childcare costs are prohibitive.

By Emma Sayle, CEO, Killing Kittens

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