There are many good reasons why every entrepreneur should build up a strong company culture within their organisation.
When done well, it can help every aspect of your business, from employee performance to attracting talent, all the way to generating sales. This article will look at several different ways businesses can start to build a successful, thriving culture within their organisations.
Most of these you can start to implement straight away!
Grow, cultivate and nurture
The word “culture” actually comes from the Latin word culturare, which means to tend to the earth and grow, cultivate and nurture. I really like this definition, especially the last three words, “grow”, “cultivate” and “nurture”, as these are all very relevant for the entrepreneur who wants to build a decent cultural platform in their business.
Let’s start by looking at the most important element of a company culture – its people.
People – employees come first
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” – Sir Richard Branson
This quote always struck a chord with me.
At my previous company, we built our culture by focusing on one key thing that we became famous for: encouraging our people to build up their personal brand.
Many companies out there are afraid of allowing their people to do talks, write blogs or record podcasts because they’re concerned that their growing reputations will allow recruiters to come in and poach them, but that’s not the case.
When you encourage people to talk about their work, they are proud to work for the company. They want to shout about what they do for the company, and that comes across in whatever content they put out. This is great for the employee as it enhances their personal reputation, it’s great for the community, and it’s great for your company too!
The thing is, good people are going to get approached by recruiters regardless, but when you look after your people and encourage them to grow, your company becomes very “sticky” and people don’t want to leave.
It no longer becomes all about money. Of course, money is important, and you should never underpay people, but you shouldn’t have to buy them either.
If you give your people the freedom to build their personal brand within your organisation, it gives them a much bigger reason to stay than just a monetary one.
Creating a comfortable, productive work environment
You don’t have to have a fancy office with slides, beanbags and foosball tables. Nowadays, a good work environment is about having flexibility and a work-life balance as much as anything.
There’s a new term now called “all-remote”. What this means is that you’re basically empowering your team to decide where they work. They can choose their environment, whether that be at home or in the office, and the company supports this by providing them with the tools they need to make it as comfortable as possible.
That means providing lots of online whiteboards to communicate on and good quality tools and resources to use, like up-to-date computers, good chairs or decent headsets.
A lot of companies consider these things as an unnecessary investment which I think is a big mistake. These things add so much more value in the long-run in terms of additional productivity and employee satisfaction. So, if you are looking at building a strong company culture, make sure you pay attention to the work environment.
Give your people the tools they require to grow
We have a process at tsf.tech where if you want a book to learn about a new tool or a new language, you don’t have to ask permission to get it. All you have to do is fire an email over to admin, and they will automatically order it for you.
It’s little touches like that, where you give people freedom and empower them to make their own decisions, that make a huge difference to the work environment and company culture.
Perks and benefits
Every company has its own ideas about perks and benefits, but if you let the employees decide, they can come up with some great, low-cost ideas of their own.
Fresh fruit, gym memberships and good coffee are great examples of some of the perks we have at tsf.tech that came from our people. They may not seem like much, but it’s little things like this that make people feel heard and valued, and that can make a big difference.
In fact, these little perks and benefits are often better received than some of the traditional things that a lot of the corporates do!
The best way to look at your perks and benefits is not through how much monetary value they bring, but how they improve your lifestyle and overall work-life balance. Even something as basic as Wednesday night at the pub with the team can greatly impact your company culture.
Make room for personal development
Another essential aspect of company culture is encouraging people’s development. From a tech startup perspective, that clearly includes technical development, but you need to include their own personal development too.
You’ll be surprised at what people are capable of with a little personal development. At my previous company, we provided an environment where people could slowly begin interacting directly with clients.
We saw some people with very little confidence, who had only ever been behind a screen, suddenly start to thrive and go on to become senior team leaders – all from these client interactions!
The reality is you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of pounds to offer those kinds of opportunities. They just need to be thought about carefully and rolled out in the right way.
Company culture has to come from the top down
Building a strong company culture can only happen from the top down. For it to work, everybody in your senior leadership team has to be on board with you and echo it across your organisation. It also needs to be part of your hiring process, particularly in the leadership roles.
If you hire a senior team leader who is fully focused on delivery and nothing else, you will start to lose that togetherness and team spirit that is so important to a thriving company culture.
But how do you pass on this culture from the top down? Well, to do it properly, you need a communication strategy.
Communicating in an agile way with everyone
When it comes to communicating your culture, you don’t want to go down the corporate route. You’ve got to leave it fairly agile and transparent.
Try arranging virtual town halls every quarter and get people excited about what’s happening in the business. Celebrate wins, and make a big deal about anything to do with your new culture.
But if you’re in a down period, then communicate that too, because it’s up to you as the leader to get people back up. This open communication really engenders trust amongst your employees and your entire community, so make sure you are doing it.
The single most important factor for your company’s development
So, building a strong company culture is probably the single most important factor for your company’s development. It should stem all the way from when you start out with your first few employees of the company. If done well, it can help take you into that period of high growth by not only generating sales but also setting you up to hire and retain incredible people!
I hope you have found this useful. If you have any questions or would like to hear more about building a company culture, check out episode 12 of our podcast “From the Factory Floor”, where myself, Aleksa and James go into more detail. Alternatively, feel free to email me at email@example.com.