Like most small businesses, you’re looking to grow. Growth will involve change. But what about preserving the enthusiastic, positive, “we’re all in this together” attitude that is so much a part of your small business? I expect you and your team don’t want to see that disappear. Unfortunately, one of the downsides of getting larger is the risk of losing the culture that got you where you are today. To preserve the small business culture that you value, you need to make it a priority and take certain steps.
You may be aware of a major shift we undertook a year or so ago at Plantronics to ensure that we continue to preserve the collaborative culture that got the company off the ground over 50 years ago. We overhauled our physical environment into what we call Smarter Working, replacing typical farms of cubes with an open space where all us of co-locate. Smarter Working makes it easier to communicate and share ideas on the fly. We also have the option of working at home or coming into the office, since flexibility and working the way that works best for each of us is another tenet of our culture.
Smarter Working is our most recent effort to insure that as Plantronics continues to grow, we don’t lose our inherent can-do culture. In addition to changing your physical workspace, here are some other ways to help preserve your small business culture over the years.
Establish what you stand for: Every company has a set of core beliefs or values that affect the way you interact with each other and with customers and determine how you grow. Make sure everyone understands what you stand for. Write down your core values somewhere – in your employee handbook as a start. Also revisit them as a team periodically. As the head of the company, make sure your actions reflect and reinforce your core values.
Appoint someone to oversee the culture: Designate someone to make sure new employees are on board with the culture and that the company seeks ways internally and externally to reinforce your values.
Hire the right people: The people you hire need to be as committed to your culture as they are to their work. You can’t afford to have the wrong people on board who have a different vision. If you hire someone and find they aren’t committed, let them go. To get the right people, you might even consider hiring people who are located in another state or city and let them work remotely.
Foster your culture outside work hours: Plan activities outside work that bring your team together and help foster your culture. It could be a fun event or some activity to give back to the community, if that is part of your culture.
Don’t leave your small business culture to evolve on its own. Define and cultivate it so it becomes an integral part of your business that motivates your team, inspires loyalty and maybe even becomes part of your brand.
Recommended reading: Building a Great Place to Work