Small businesses come in all shapes and sizes, from mom-and-pop shops to tech-focused startups, and everything in between. While they vary in industry, mission and goals, one thing many small businesses share is an outstanding company culture. There’s something about the small business culture that often gets lost as companies grow.
Sure, your company will change as you grow, but you don’t have to lose your unique culture along the way! So, how do you preserve your culture as you scale? With some thoughtful planning, you can make it happen.
(Re)Define Your Values
As your company grows, it’s easy to get caught up in the business side of things. All of the sudden you’re developing new products, meeting with potential investors, fundraising, adding new departments and other important business moves. It’s crucial keep your company values in mind. Take some time to define your company values. If you’ve done this in the past, revisit your values to make sure they still apply, and that you’re still living up to them as a company.
As a business owner, you don’t have to do this alone! Depending on the size and culture of your company, you might find it best to pull the team leads together, or even the whole company, to do this as a group exercise. No matter your style, be sure to clearly share your values with the company.
Clear communication is absolutely essential to your business, especially during periods of fast movement and growth. It’s important to communicate with your team. Company goals, team events, values and mission—make sure the team stays on the same page. In addition to communicating outwardly with your team, it’s important to have an outlet to receive information from your team. Depending on your size and growth rate, it may no longer be feasible for employees stop by your desk with an idea.
There are a ton of ways you can open the lines of communication. You can create an email list specifically for your company culture, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. Invite your team to share ideas, requests and feedback to this channel. Have a few people manage this inbox that can help answer questions and use the feedback. For example, you can add your operations manager, HR coordinator or anyone else in your company that directly manages people or culture.
Another great option is the anonymous survey. You can easily create and send a survey to check in with the team on a cadence that works best for your company, such as monthly or quarterly. You can build a simple Google Form or use a survey software. If you’re using software to manage your business operations, check to see if you can send a survey through their platform!
Embrace Your Culture
Your company has a culture that’s unique to your team. Embrace it! Perhaps you’re a small company that eats lunch together once (or a few times) a week. Maybe you have a Friday ritual to end the work week with team, such as happy hour or office games. As your business grows, you might not be able to keep all of the traditions alive. Prioritize keeping traditions that are most important to you and your team. This will ensure your employees continue to have fun at work and will help you attract new talent and customers!
At the end of the day, you need to do what’s best for your business to grow, meet your goals and reach success. Stay true to your company’s values and check in every few months to make sure your growth and values continue to align. Have an open line of communication with your employees, and take feedback seriously to ensure you continue to grow as a team!