The Planner

Small Business Culture

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September 23, 2020
Core Group US
Small Business

You’ve certainly heard of business culture before. You’re savvy enough to know that corporate cultures like you’d find at Apple or Trader Joes play a significant role in those companies’ success.

But how big does an organization have to be before they need to start seriously thinking about corporate culture? Or, let’s ask the opposite question, at what point is your organization so small that culture shouldn’t be a concern?

It’s an easy answer, and one you probably saw coming – culture should be important to organizations of any size. 

Culture doesn’t necessarily mean having an open office full of bean bags where everyone brings their dog to work, although if that sounds good to you, give it a try! Culture is the vision, values, and behaviors of a company. Every business has a culture – it’s unavoidable. But many businesses don’t form their culture intentionally. Rather, their culture is formed by people doing what they do during the course of a day. What sort of culture do you have and how did it get there?

If you’re running a small business, you’re already swamped with work because you’re wearing too many hats. Suggesting you need to care about one more thing might seem a bit extreme, or possibly even cruel. But believe me when I say that taking steps to create the right culture is going to make your life easier – and it can send dollars to the bottom line. Here’s just a few of the many reasons why:

Hiring – the marketplace is ultra-competitive, and you need the best (we’ll touch on this more later). As a small business, you need to set yourself apart, and a great culture is a way to do that. 

Accountability – Remember all those hats you wear? When you have a strong culture, you’ll create a level of accountability because everyone knows what to expect out of everyone else. This is also an ideal environment for delegating, and now your hat-wearing will down to a more manageable level.

But how do you get there?

I’ve got a few ideas, but let’s be clear – this can be a really complex topic without simple answers. I’m going to breeze through a few key points, but if you’d like to dive into the topic of workplace culture, Start With Why by Simon Sinek is a good read.

But for a quick fly-by, let’s try these:

You can’t have it until you define it – Step #1 is always going to be defining the culture you want to have. You’ll need to define what your company does, what you believe, and what your vision of the future looks like. Michael Monteiro, CEO of Buildium asserts that you need to do this yesterday. It’s important for your company, your customers, and it’s important for your staff.

Now that you know what you need, start hiring for it – When you have a staffing need it’s usually accompanied with a time crunch. There is stuff to do and you need somebody to start doing it, and it’s easy to grab the first warm body that seems like a sufficient fit. Resist this urge. Take your time, and make sure that you’ve got someone who really aligns with your values and outlook, and don’t be afraid to hire someone who’s got a great attitude but might need a bit of training. You can train someone to run Quickbooks, but have you ever tried to train someone to care?

Once you have values, you need to reinforce them – You can’t say that you value customer service above all else and then conveniently never discuss customer service again. If you have a stated value, find a way to recognize those individuals or instances where that value really comes through. 

Maybe this means that you have recurring training programs where you can really explore these values with your staff. Some organizations have regular awards that are peer-nominated and given to people who really embody a certain value. However you do it, your culture needs to embody your values, and a public display that reinforces those values is a great way to start.

What sort of culture have you built where you work? Could it use some tweaks, or is it really moving you forward?

We’d love to sit down with you and talk culture or processes or whatever it might take to move your business to the next level!

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