How to grow your business sustainably: Company culture

4 December 2015

Sustainability has become an appealing term readily used by business analysts and consultants when making the case for the implementation of certain strategies. Sustainability is often perceived as being related to external factors above all else, but it is actually a combination of internal and external factors, with the internal ones weighing heavily in the mix.

The company culture is another term that gets a lot of mileage without it being particularly useful in the absence of a particular key to understanding its meaning and importance.

The company culture is something you as a founder instill in the company from the very beginning; it is as important as your service and product offering and as crucial as the relationship with your clients. Failing to understand its importance means failing at doing business as a whole.

We generally start a company because we feel we can do things better or do better things, but none of that can be achieved without a solid team behind you. To create a successful company culture you will hire people that you like and enjoy working with, and they themselves will create bonds between them, which will help you grow your business sustainably. Employee engagement will enrich the culture you founded when you first set out on your journey and the key to making sure it keeps thriving is paying attention to three main challenges.

1. How to promote?

Promote internally and based on correct assessments. If your company has been doing so well, chances are you have valuable people in your company that have contributed to your success. You are still the visionary that made your dream become a reality, but if you are in a position to transition from a small-sized company to a medium-sized one, then you didn't get there alone. Make proper assessments of their achievements, not of their ability to sell their achievements. We all know how eager we are to delegate in order to achieve rapid growth. Determine which one of your employees is most likely to think like you and act like you so that they can foster the same culture that you have created. In order to reach this stage, mentorship is crucial. Whether you started your company with young hires or with more experienced people, taking the time to educate them to your understanding of the business not only builds trust and engagement, but also insures a valuable base for future promotions within the company.

2. How to hire?

Avoid disruptive hiring. Hire wisely by assessing the fit with the team above all other attributes. We all know or heard of new employees entering a company with high ambitions, eager to impress the boss and deliver results, whether in terms of cutting costs or making the activity more efficient. That happens especially with new employees coming directly to management positions, those that have not been promoted internally, which should always be the number one rule. Be wise and look at the hidden costs of implementing measures that will bring such results. Are they of manageable proportions? Are wages or bonuses being cut? Is the employee workload growing to a point where the enthusiasm for the project decreases to worrying levels? If the answer to the last two questions is yes, then you have yourself a case of disruptive hiring which will inevitably be detrimental to the culture that has helped you get to where you are and serious reassessment is in order.

3. How to fire?

Listen to feedback; that of your employees, your clients, even your service providers. Firing is never a desirable outcome of an employment relationship, but alas it is necessary at times. Saying to your employees that you will fire them with no hesitation at the moment of hiring is embarrassing, humiliating, and certainly not conducive to a healthy culture. Don't do that. However, a system that rewards success and takes measures against failure at any level has to be in place. Acknowledging the culture of dedication and trust that you have created means protecting it also. An employee that disrupts your company’s culture is a threat to the very foundation of your business. Whether they are failing at their business responsibilities or at liaising with others in a professional manner, chances are they are ill-equipped to be a part of the company and they need to be let go.

Relying on others to achieve the results that you yourself would deliver is never easy. It is however what will sustain your business growth. The good foundation of a sound company culture is what will help you grow sustainably in the long run so take the time to build it before you focus on gaining market share.


By Ioana Belu