Some growth strategies are obvious and have immediate and tangible results. Others, like creating a culture, have more indirect results, but are still extremely important as you strive to make your organization more dynamic, more productive and more profitable.
Creating a culture for your company is about cultivating passion in both your team and customer base. Your culture clarifies your identity, your values and your beliefs, in addition to more basic things like the products or services you offer and how you price them.
Not sure what we mean by “culture”? Think “Enron,” and you generate a slew of images and adjectives of a company culture. To the other extreme, mention “Disney,” “Starbucks” or “ Patagonia,” and the thought process goes in opposite directions.
When you create a company culture, you’ll find yourself and your employees all dancing around the same bonfire. It unifies your mission and adds meaning (and fun) to your daily activities.
When this culture permeates all you do, you’ll find your customers picking up on it and responding to it. The kind of loyalty it can bring about can lead to significant repeat business and positive word-of-mouth – both invaluable.
To accurately convey who you are and what your business is all about, we provide some helpful tasks for you to complete.
HERE ARE FOUR CULTURE-CREATION STEPS:
- Define and Display Your End Goals
- Have All Team Members Take Ownership
- Find and Apply “Best Practices”
- Create a Social Agenda
Define and Display Your End Goals
When your team buys into a set of goals, it takes your business to a whole new level. We’ll leave the nature of the goals to you. But here we’ll reinforce the importance of setting specific goals for specific timeframes. We recommend setting monthly, quarterly and annual goals for near- and mid-term purposes, and “end-goals” for the longer term.
It’s important to establish goals not only for the company as a whole, but for each individual working at the company. That way, each person understands not only what they’re personally responsible for accomplishing, but also how their goals relate and contribute to the overall goals of the company.
To keep goals top of mind, don’t be shy about plastering them on the wall or making them into screen savers for office computers. Also, have regular check-ins consistent with the near-, mid-, and long-term goal timeframes you establish. This might be a bit intense for your team members at first, but these tête-à-têtes will quickly become welcomed meetings where each person gets coordinated with, and feels more confident and directed in, their work effort.
Have All Team Members Take Ownership
To be sure your goal-setting effort packs maximum punch - and that your team embraces the goals with vigor - establish a sense of “ownership.” Tap your team members’ inner entrepreneur. Your people should know that there’s a “win” for them, not just for you, the owner, upon achieving individual or team goals. The rewards can range from simple team celebrations to financial windfalls.
Your objective should be to squelch any punch-in, punch-out mentality and replace it with the zeal and tenacity of a bright-eyed business owner.
Listen to the aspirations of team members and craft their roles and incentives so they’re positioned to flourish.
Bottom line, your employees feel like pivotal contributors and that they can influence the process of reaching the company goals. If you keep that spirit, you’ll have a thriving business. If you lose it, cynicism, laziness and mediocrity are destined to creep into your business.
Find and Apply Best Practices
We know, as entrepreneurs ourselves, that the nature of the entrepreneurial beast is to always want to do things innovatively. But the fact is, sometimes being innovative is not the best strategy. Instead, we’ve learned that one of the smartest moves you can make is to simply be a copycat.
Ask yourself what entrepreneurs or companies you revere – ones on which you’d be proud to model aspects of your business. If it’s a challenge to find companies in your own niche, look beyond to the marketplace in general. Who’s doing things admirably, effectively, in ways that inspire you? Learning what “the best of the best” do to get results can help you get your business kicked into high gear, too.
When you find companies that exhibit excellence, figure out what it is exactly that sets them apart. And ask yourself if you can apply that same practice or strategy to your own business.
It might be their hiring practices, their compensation packages, their customer demographics, their product mix, their service offering, their pricing -- on and on. You’ll know which areas of your business require the most attention and upgrading after completing Step 1 of the 10 Steps to Grow Your Business .
Besides your competitors and other companies, another good source for great ideas is probably right under your nose: a trusted advisor or mentor. We’ve found that mentors are huge contributors when it comes to avoiding land-mines and helping you shortcut directly to best practices.
Create a Social Agenda
The more meaning you add to your business, the more passion you infuse, the more your company will thrive.
Your “social agenda” can include initiatives like donating a portion of proceeds to a particular cause, encouraging employees to volunteer for local charities, even promoting the fact that your product selection follows strict guidelines to protect other people or the environment.
Here’s a good example: Vital Choice is an online company that provides Alaskan salmon. The company stresses to customers that it sells salmon only caught in a certain way, and that it works only with fisheries that are not over-fishing the waters.
This approach encourages employee passion and commitment, and lets customers know their patronage benefits Vital Choice’s environmental cause – in this case, the salmon fisheries. Beyond the health benefit, it gives customers yet another impetus for doing business with Vital Choice.
Donating a portion of your proceeds to a local charity also creates awareness. Tell your customers about community problems that should be addressed. You’ll find that your employees start getting involved, too. They’ll enjoy working in a place that isn’t just focused on making a buck. They’ll enjoy a sense of fulfillment, and that will reveal itself in greater attention to detail, commitment to success and workplace productivity.