Every company has to find its own culture. Sometimes you know what you want; other times you fall into it because of circumstances and experiences. Either way, it’s a big part of entrepreneurial success. You need an identity and a way to make employees feel invested in your business if you’re going to last.
When I started A Better Answer back in 1971, I had a good idea about our culture, but I had to learn from experiences along the way. There may have been ups and downs, but our culture was always a priority. It’s frankly one of the main reasons we’re still the best in the business after 45 years.
So how do you develop a culture that turns into entrepreneurial success? Here’s one woman’s take:
1. Hire People You Like
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: we only hire nice people to work… not people who have to work at being nice. Negativity is contagious and you want to promote a positive environment. If everyone gets along for the most part, it’ll be easier to focus on the overall success of the business.
I’m type A, so I’ve mostly hired people who are type A since I first started in this industry. At the same time, you don’t want a bunch of people who are saying “yes” all the time. You need someone to say “no” every now and then to reassure yourself that you’re making the right decisions.
2. Create a Family Environment
I’ve always tried to treat everyone in my business like they’re part of my family. I make a point to know everyone by his or her first name – yes, that’s hundreds of current and former employees. People feel valued when you get to know them.
We also do things like our Fall Family Festival, which I’ve hosted for nearly 40 years. We put up all these big tents, eat some barbecue and have tractor-led hay rides for the kids. We also acknowledge employees for their awards and achievements. Events like this are a great way to maintain a family environment year after year.
3. Promote from Within
I only promote from within. Once employees establish themselves with ABA – it usually takes about six months – I treat them like they’re family. Families are there for each other, which is why I give mine an opportunity to move up. If that means paying for additional training or education to make sure they’re qualified, so be it.
4. Give Employees Financial Peace of Mind
It’s hard to be invested in your job if you’re stressed out with things at home. Finances are another area where families help each other, so I do my best to give each employee peace of mind. How? I’ve always paid for all employee benefits, from medical and vision to dental and 401K. I’ve also never missed a payroll in 45 years and we’ve never had any layoffs.
5. Always Be Positive
Thinking negatively isn’t an option. I’ve always said that “I’m not happy if I’m not laughing,” so I try to promote a positive environment whenever I can. It may be a simple tip, but it’s vital for cultural success.
In the end, a good culture is a family culture. We empower our employees to be Call Handling Heroes® and treat them like we’re related. Having this mindset will lead to a positive environment and get you on the road to entrepreneurial success.