Starting and maintaining a small business is a huge accomplishment. As a small business owner, you’re able to help your customers, create job opportunities, live your dreams and build a legacy. You’re told to focus on profits, growth & expansion, lead generation, and marketing. There are several articles and resources that help startups and small businesses in those areas, but you don’t hear much about the importance of a building good company culture even when the business is small.
Small business owners have many roles to play and while some may seem more important than others, it’s very easy to completely disregard culture building. If longevity is your goal, you cannot afford to ignore building and maintaining an engaging company culture. In this post, we’ll review 7 mistakes that most small business owners and startups make when it comes to company culture and how it impacts the business.
You Don’t Think Culture Building Applies to You
Focusing on company culture isn’t only important for companies with hundreds of employees, it’s important for any size company with employees. Culture is essentially the lifeline of a company because it majorly impacts employee engagement and satisfaction, employee retention, performance, growth, competitive advantage, and customer satisfaction. The common denominator of each area mentioned is people. The moment your employees are made a priority and served effectively, your culture is in a healthy state.
Company culture isn’t important for companies with hundreds of employees only, it’s important for any size company with employees.
You’re Hiring the Wrong People
Many small businesses end up hiring people based on the need for extra help and neglect identifying whether they’re a good fit for the company. Doing this results in mediocre performance and high turnover because you’re hiring people who have no connection to what matters most to the company or its growth. Many people work for companies just to get a paycheck and there is nothing wrong with this. However, if your purpose for hiring employees is to utilize and develop their skillset for long-term company goals, you must be very intentional about hiring people who want those things as well.
You Don’t Invest in Training
If you want quality to be shown in the work done by employees and the service customers receive, training must be a top priority. When employees are not effectively trained to do their jobs, they are left to assume how to do it. It also becomes very difficult to establish performance standards and communicate expectations if there’s no training to educate employees. Keep in mind that investments should be made for job training as well as soft-skills training. Your employees should be very clear on what’s expected of them to perform their roles, how to behave while doing so, and they should be given the tools and resources to uphold those expectations.
You Don’t Have a Clear Company Purpose
Why did you start your business? Who are you helping and what problems are you solving? How do you plan to solve those problems? You must be very clear on the company’s purpose. Without clarity, employees won’t know what they’re working towards or why, and it lowers their desire to buy into company goals.
Define your ideal company culture with this Culture Building Essentials Checklist!
You Don’t Operate by the Core Values of the Company
What principles & behaviors must be used to perform in your company and to make decisions? This question leads you to the core company values. If the answer to this question is unclear, your company culture will be also. Company culture is a direct representation of what and who matters most to the company. For instance, if making sure that patients are served with empathy and compassion while receiving medical supplies matters most to the company, all decisions and actions should reflect this. Establishing and following core values allows everyone in your company to know and understand how and why things are done.
You’re Reactive and Not Proactive
Start thinking of how you want the company to operate and the type of people who best fit the company immediately. Don’t wait until problems occur before realizing that implementing strategies, processes, and systems beforehand would’ve prevented most problems. As small business owners, it’s very easy for us to attempt to do everything ourselves. Always be intentional about making decisions that align with where you want the company to be, not where the company is currently.
For example, you may only have one employee now, but you plan to hire 4 more in the next year. Giving various and random tasks to your current employee whenever a need arises seem like it’s working now, but that won’t be sufficient as you expand your team. Creating and documenting processes and job roles should be a top priority long before you post those job openings on career sites. You may not be leading a team of 5 right now, but you should be proactive enough to operate and make decisions now as if they were already on the team. Otherwise, you’ll spend the majority of your time reacting and troubleshooting problems that could have been avoided.
You Don’t Make Leadership Development a Priority
Effective leadership skills are crucial in any business. As previously mentioned, hiring the right people and investing in training majorly impacts how well companies perform. This is also true for leadership. Without leaders who care about tending to the needs of employees and customers more than their own, company culture will become toxic very quickly. Leadership coaching, training, and mentorship are great ways for leaders to develop their skills.
Not sure how to start shaping a healthy culture for your small business or startup? Grab this checklist!