Creating Your Corporate Culture – Even as a Small Business

creating-your-corporate-culture-even-as-a-small-businessI am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.

Do you have a corporate culture?

The answer is yes.  Even if it’s not a planned corporate culture, everything you do in your business supports a corporate culture.

Some people think of a corporate culture in terms of a brand.  A corporate culture goes beyond branding – though your brand is PART of your overall corporate culture.

Take Google for example.  What words do you think of when you think of Google’s corporate culture?

Playful

Fun

Friendly

Connected

Customer Focused

Everything Google does upholds their corporate culture, from their logo (which is also part of their branding), to changing their homepage on holidays, and even to their campus in Silicon Valley.  Inside Google’s offices you’ll find indoor slides, pool tables, and free food.  Their employee cafeteria has a dozen choices to fit your mood and culture and you don’t pay a dime.

Is Google upholding their corporate culture from start to finish?  You bet!

So let me ask you this question: What is your corporate culture?  What words do you want people to think and feel about your business when they interact with you?

Does your branding uphold your corporate culture?

Do your customer service practices uphold your corporate culture?

Does your office uphold your corporate culture (even if you work from home)?

This line of questioning can be hard, especially for small business owners and solopreneurs, but I promise they will be helpful in creating a corporate culture that you’re proud of.

Even more than pride, I hope you create a corporate culture that helps you strive to provide the kind of experience that your customers crave and ultimately helps customers and prospects choose YOU over the competition.

Here are five tips to creating a corporate culture you love:

Brainstorm five words that you want to describe your corporate culture.  Depending on the business it might be fun, playful, attainable, connected, comfortable (like Google).  You also might have a list that looks something like this: professional, knowledgeable, classy, high-end, international.  See the difference?  Though it IS possible to want some words from both categories to ultimately create your corporate culture.  Look at your current product/service suite, look at your branding, but ultimately DON’T make the choices based on what you currently see.  Make your choices based on what you want it to be in the future.

After you have your five words, compare your five words to your current branding. Do your logo, website and promotional materials embody the words you selected?  If not, what needs to change?  How can you uplevel your brand to be in alignment with your corporate culture?

Case Study: Doodads Promotional Products

I started my promotional products company when I was 19.  At the time, I was working at an advertising agency and my BFF was a graphic designer.  She made a logo for me out of my favorite font at the time.  I was young and my business and lifestyle embodied that logo.

As I grew a little and when I made a geographic change in my life and my business, I looked at my logo and realized that it did not uphold the words I wanted to exemplify.  I still wanted to be fun and infuse that into my business, but I wanted people to think “professional and classy” first before “fun” so that they would know that I could take care of their marketing in a professional manner.  My logo change was a necessary uplevel to embody my corporate culture.

Compare your five words to your customer service strategy and practices.  Do your interactions on the phone, online and via mail uphold your corporate culture?  If not, what needs to change?

Compare your five words to your product/service offerings.  Do your products uphold the words you selected?  Are there products/services that are missing from your suite that need to be added?  Are there products or services you should eliminate to better uphold your corporate culture?

Check out your workspace, office and online store.  Does your work environment embody your 5 words?  Even if you work in a small space in the corner of your bedroom, what can you add to your work environment that will help you maintain the corporate culture you desire? You can still work in your jammies, if that’s what helps you, but sometimes I put heels on while I’m on my radio show to remind me of my corporate culture.  The space we are in truly does affect how we interact with our business.

Share with us!  What five words best describe your corporate culture?  Or what things have you done in your business to maintain a corporate culture, even as a solopreneur or small business?

Originally Published on StartupPrincess.com on August 15, 2013

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