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Small Business Culture.

How to develop and maintain a successful culture, and how can it help us grow a small business. What are the benefits of developing a great culture in our small businesses, and how do we establish and nurture our company culture?

On this episode, host Henry Lopez is joined by David Begin and Matt Brunk to discuss how to establish and maintain a great culture in our small business.

Matt Brunk has over 18 years of operations and human resource management experience in various businesses, including the restaurant, service, transportation, and carwash industries. He earned a Master of Science in Management degree with an emphasis on Human Resource Performance from Colorado State University. He enjoys developing and managing teams and teaching others to do the same. Matt is from Oklahoma and currently lives in Colorado Springs.

Topics and questions addressed on this episode of The How of Business about Small Business Culture:

  • “As business leaders, most of us have come to terms with the fact that our company’s culture profoundly impacts our business goals, successes, and failures. But how exactly do we define the culture within an organization?” – source: article by David Begin & Matt Brunk.
  • What is “culture”?
    • Culture is the tacit [understood or implied without being stated] social order of an organization: It shapes attitudes and behaviors in wide-ranging and durable ways. Cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group. When properly aligned with personal values, drives, and needs, culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organization’s capacity to thrive.” – source: “The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture”, Harvard Business Review
    • “Dr. Richard Scholl, a professor at the University of Rhode Island, described organizational culture best when he stated, ‘If culture is defined as a set of mechanisms creating behavioral consistency, then culture can be described as the norms and values that control how people interact in an organization.’”
  • Who establishes the norms and values of a small business?
  • What are some of the high-level differences between blue-collar or hourly-wage environments compared to professional organizations?

  • The 5 Elements of great Culture:
    • 1: Set high standards or expectations for operational excellence.
      • What are some ways we can do this?
      • What are some common mistakes small business owners make?
    • 2: Document Processes – Systems
      • How do I begin developing the systems for my business?
      • How can I validate that I have documented all the critical processes in my business?
      • I have systems, but nobody is using them! What should I do?
    • 3: Train to the Standards
      • What are the keys to effective training?
      • Why should I spend the time and effort on training when they are going to leave soon anyway?
      • “The more you rely on explicit knowledge instead of tacit knowledge, the more your company will be driven by your standards instead of employee experience or guidelines.”
    • 4: Manage to the Standards
      • Please share examples of how to do this effectively and consistently.
      • What are some of the common challenges with managing to the standards?
      • “Though holding employees accountable is not always a fun process, it is necessary to establish a great culture.”
    • 5: Observe, Identify and Adjust
      • Please share some tips on how to do this well.
      • How do we measure how the organization is performing?
      • What can we learn when an individual fails in our organization?

  • What are some examples of how we have observed a successful culture in our small businesses?
  • How do you develop and sustain a great culture with remote teams?
  • Other keys to developing a strong culture:
    • Clear vision and mission
    • Integrity
    • Transparency
    • Trust
    • Community Support
    • Team Activities
    • Take care of your employees
    • Culture requires consistent attention and nurturing.
  • Book Recommendation: “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh
    • “…a company’s culture and a company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin. The brand is just a lagging indicator of a company’s culture.”
    • “It starts with the hiring process.” “After hiring, the next step to building the culture is training.”
  • Key takeaways?
    • Culture matters – it impacts our ability to serve our customers and to operate a successful small business long-term.
    • It starts at the top.
    • There is a process you can follow to help you develop your business culture.
    • When your culture starts to take hold, you will see the signs. Indications that it’s working will include a group mentality of culture that automatically fixes situations because the team holds each other to the standards. When you see employees coaching their peers, communicating the proper processes, and not allowing others to get away with poor behavior, you will know that the excellent culture you wanted to create is indeed coming to fruition.

Episode Host: Henry Lopez is a serial entrepreneur, small business coach, and the host of this episode of The How of Business podcast show – dedicated to helping you start, run and grow your small business.


Books mentioned in this episode:
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Other Podcast Episodes:

Episode 281: Ken Bator – Culture

You can find other episodes of The How of Business podcast, the best small business podcast, on our Archives page.

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