By Stan Garber, president of Scout RFP.
Starting a new business is a formative moment for any entrepreneur; it's the culmination of weeks, months and years of blood, sweat and tears (sometimes literally). While there's no exact science to doing it successfully, we learned some best practices over the years founding and building up businesses, and a lot of that hinges on creating a strong company culture.
Here are a few of our top tips to create a culture that will not only propel your business forward, but provide a strong foundation for your company and its employees to build upon.
Set concrete values.
It's important to know what core values you want to drive your business -- and ideas on how you'd like to implement them within your company -- even before taking on your first hires. Sit down and brainstorm the ideals you want to be most important to all your personnel.
Likewise, think of practical ways you want to actually put these principles into practice. Bear in mind, however, that you will need to adjust and possibly restructure these values as your startup grows. It'll be a fun process discovering your values, and along the way you'll learn lessons about what you truly want your company and your employees to focus on.
Remember that every employee/customer is a person.
Speaking of core values, one of ours is "Don't be a jerk." Yep, it can be that simple. At the end of the day, everyone needs to treat each other with respect and kindness as they would want to be treated. You could even consider adding this concept to your list of values.
This isn't a new concept, but it's truer now than it has even been before in the business world. Embracing change goes beyond just technology; it could be providing resources for your employees to learn new processes and techniques or exploring new industry practices and structures.
These are the things that will keep your venture at the top of your industry, and equally important, let your staff know that you take their education and growth seriously.
Be transparent in every way possible.
Nothing can disrupt a company culture more than underlying feelings of shadiness. Leaders in an organization should be upfront and honest with staff as much as possible and as often as possible.
People know when something is up, and trying to be sneaky will only cause rumors and mistrust to grow within the workplace. A good way to ensure your whole team feels in the know? Set monthly (or weekly) check-ins with the whole team.
Put relationships at the center of your business.
It shouldn't be a surprise, but the heart of an amazing company culture is always the personal relationships that are built within the office. Get to know each of your team members individually, past their title and job description. Have conversations with folks during their breaks, take people out for coffee, or work alongside them in their workspace.
Also, it's important to foster a tight-knit culture across the entire company. Offering to cater lunches in the office from time to time, sponsoring a monthly or quarterly company outing, or even setting up office-wide volunteer days are just a few ways to accomplish that bonding.
These guidelines should help get you started in building an active and melodious culture in any new business venture. Just make sure to put energy and devotion into creating that company culture from day one, when it matters most.
Stan Garber is the president of Scout RFP and sets the marketing and growth strategy.