Think of entrepreneurial success as a recipe: half cup of vision, half cup of profit resources, and a gallon of customer relationship building. But there’s one thing missing to these ingredients. For true long-term entrepreneurial success, you have to first turn to your workplace’s culture.
It’s easy to forget the importance of building an engaging and collaborative work environment. With bottom lines to think about, business owners often don’t link the connections between a vibrant culture and their business’ viability. But the two things go hand in hand. If you are reading Under 30 CEO, I already know you have the acumen and desire to improve your business, and a great workplace should be part of that vision.
I’ve listed out some things I’ve found to be helpful for building a great culture over my years and years of business experience.
Hire the Right People
I’ve seen many impressive resumes. But when the choice comes down to a great resume and a great personality, I would pick the candidate with a standout personality. If I can envision that candidate meshing well with the team, if I can see a potential for growth, and if I can see that the candidate is motivated by the same things I am—it’s a good fit.
You’ll always have disagreements with your team, of course. But at the end of the day, you have to believe in and trust the people your hire.
Diversity is a huge, huge foundation for workplace culture. Continuing our nice cooking analogy here: if you needed to enhance the flavor of a stew, you wouldn’t keep on adding water, right? You’d pour in aromatic spices and chop up fresh vegetables for even more taste. The same goes for your workplace—sameness won’t get you far, but celebrating the differences of your team and their interests will.
Communicate Goals, and Adjust
I stress the importance of an open door policy. And I absolutely value the importance of team meetings for feedback. In either situation, the floor is always open for any suggestions, comments, and criticisms that can be used to improve my business. Communication like this not only boosts morale, but allows us to make necessary adjustments to processes and procedures that actually work for the entire group.
Set the Mood
I think a lot of business owners underestimate the importance of creating an inspiring place to work.
Your business’s culture is deeply tied into your office’s physical surroundings—so take a look around you. Is your office space a dull, white room with cubicles and fluorescent lighting? Or is it an open-concept building with floor-to-ceiling windows, common areas for employees to interact in, and brainstorming rooms where team-members can hash out ideas on whiteboards?
Businesses don’t have to be as large as Google or Facebook to have a cool places to work. There are a lot of easy things you can do to really spruce up your office, like:
- Dedicate one area in the office where your team can grab coffee and bring snacks to share
- Encourage your team to bring in personal items, like photos and mementos
- Brand your space—from custom signage to coffee mugs with your logo on them
- Let in the light—not only does it boost morale, but natural light has many health benefits
I work in a fairly creative industry, but innovation is nothing without an imaginative team and right workplace atmosphere to be a conduit for that imagination. Don’t misunderstand: creative and engaging should not, and do not, symbolize a lack of productivity. It’s quite the opposite.
Ab Emam is the Founder and manages the day-to-day business operations at WDG, The Web Development Group, Washington, D.C.’s premier full-service creative web agency.
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