The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines culture as “the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties, especially by education,” which is an incredibly boring statement. So, I kept reading, seeing as how there were multiple definitions, and I found this: “The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” Ah, much better. But why does culture matter when it comes to your company? Because everything, yes, everything, depends on a company’s strongly defined culture.
Once the culture is defined, it’s much easier to do simple tasks, such as hiring the proper personnel, choosing marketing messages, or deciding on the identity of your brand. So how do you build culture and where do you start? It all depends on your company’s goals and purpose, but here are a few tips to get started:
Start at the top
A strong culture begins with strong leaders. Great leadership defines the character of the business and portrays the very face of the company. The culture you’re looking for must start at the top and be ingrained into leaders who have the ability to spread that culture so that it becomes the staple of what your company is and will become.
Build from the vision, mission, and values
Culture is a by-product of the vision, mission, and values your company leaders create. These three things must be clearly developed and defined before you can begin to build the culture. In short, the vision is the future of your company, the mission is the purpose of your company, and the values are the standards and priorities you set in place. Focus on defining and clarifying these necessities, and you’ll find that the culture will begin to develop automatically.
Build a “club” mentality
We all want to be in with the “cool” crowd and feel like we’re a part of something special. People crave an environment with a vibe they can feed off of and be inspired by. By building a team with great employees, you can build a more attractive culture and therefore appeal to high quality clients.
You don’t have to be sexy to be cultured!
You might be thinking your company isn’t “glamorous” enough for culture. But take a look at companies like Zappos and Amazon. They are not “sexy” tech startups, but they constantly attract great quality in both employees and clients. It’s those get down-and-dirty industries that have to offer a great employee culture to maintain high work standards.
Developing and defining a strong company culture is the only way to successfully run a business long term. If you don’t define the culture, then your employees will. It would be like the “wild west” with no law and order. What you define is the blood that pumps through the veins of your business. As veins carry blood to the heart, you could say that the culture is the heart of the company, and therefore, it requires very delicate attention to work properly and successfully for as long as possible. Take these tips into consideration when indentifying your company’s culture — as it is the heart and soul that will carry your company into the future.
Jordan Guernsey is the CEO of Molding Box, an innovative company that provides order distribution, shipping, print services, and CD/DVD duplication. Jordan started Molding Box in his mother’s basement and has grown the company into an Inc. 500 list member.
Category: Startup Advice