What does company culture mean to your small business?

by on August 28, 2013

This post is sponsored by Visa Business.

The phrase “company culture”. What does that make you think of?

Raise your hand if you thought of a large corporation or business.

Really, each and every single biz has a culture, even if they have not formalized it. Any business will have values, systems, approaches – a general way of doing things and a personality.

It’s part of your brand.

My partner runs a small business and he has what I would call an informal culture, but it’s a culture nonetheless.

For his employees he:

      • Buys them lunch every now and then and takes them out for beers.
      • Gives them all kinds of flexibility. If they need, or want, to take a day off, generally speaking he lets them.
      • Has them over to chill and socialize in our backyard.
      • But, when they are working, expects them to work hard and efficiently.

The company culture is relaxed and welcoming, but focused and driven. There is fun to be had, but work to do as well.

What kind of a culture does your small business have? Maybe you…

      • Give your employees the flexibility to care for their families, attend university or work from home.
      • Treat your employees with incredible kindness, because that’s just the type of person you are. That’s culture (haven’t we all seen some poor employee get chewed out by their boss? That’s culture too, on the negative side).
      • Only hire the most awesome, like-minded people.
      • Have a really comfortable work environment.
      • Offer your employees perks or incentives.
      • Hold special events for your employees.
      • Pay for educational opportunities such as attending a workshop or covering some tuition fees for courses.

Company culture is important. And you can use it to your advantage.

Happy employees = happy small business

This is a given. You want your employees to be happy. They are not just worker bees. They are people.

A positive company culture results in a working environment that makes people want to stay.

Your employees will work better and give good service. They might even talk about how much they love working for you. And your customers will take notice. Positive word of mouth is very potent.

So give your company culture some thought. How do you feel about it? Could you make improvements?  Perhaps you feel inspired to make it even better. I’ve given you some ideas above, but you’ll probably come up with many others. Be creative. Sure, some of them might not stick. But some of them your employees just might LOVE. And it could encourage them to stick around. Or help you bring great new employees on board.

A new font of communications content

This is the bonus of company culture that many small businesses don’t think about. You can talk about your culture, regardless of whether it’s formalized or not and use it as a way to differentiate yourself in your marketing.

Sharing how you run things, or giving the inside scoop, is personal. So many businesses shy away from the personal, but this kind of transparency is what really gets people interested and helps you stand out and be memorable.

      • Use it on social media. Let people know what you are doing for your employees and what’s happening at your business. If it’s a special event or something like a lunch get-together, take pics. Everybody loves pictures on social media, especially Facebook.
      • Use it on your website. Depending on your business, it might be totally appropriate to share it on your about page. Mission statements (or why you’re doing what you’re doing) are a popular way to communicate company culture. You could ask staff to add a sentence in their bios about why they like to work for you. If you list job openings on your site, you can add some content around what it’s like to be an employee for your business.
      • Add some company culture stuff to your email newsletters. Introduce your employees or share the fun stuff going on around your business.
      • On your blog.  You can post blogs with employee bios or interviews, chronicles of events or happenings, or just outright do a post on how you treat employees or what your work environment is like. Link it to your values.  Make it interesting and heart felt.

Even a solopreneur has a culture

Yup, it’s a bit more subtle for those of you that work on your own like me, but it still plays a role. How you treat yourself and how you run your business is your culture. It all comes down to sharing your personal side a bit more.

To use myself as an example, I allow for…

      • Plenty of holidays and days off.
      • Time to focus on personal development via courses and workshops.
      • Support of different charities.
      • Time each day devoted to well-being, exercise, meditation – that sort of thing.

So the short of it is, company culture benefits your small business. There are plenty of stats that point to how a positive company culture contributes to the success of a biz. Check some of them out in this infographic…

Visa Business_August Infographic_081413

If you had just a few words to describe your small business’ company culture, what would you say? Let us know in the comments.

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.

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