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5 Ways to Establish Your Company’s Culture

One of the most common challenges facing small businesses is building a company culture. Everything from hierarchy to how you design your business cards affects how your company is perceived both internally and externally. This doesn't always seem like a huge concern at the beginning of a company's life. When there are only a few people working together, their personalities are usually strong enough that culture happens organically. As your business grows, it can get muddier. Eventually, an effort has to be made to establish clear standards of interaction within the business. Here are five ways you can build a culture that promotes growth and sets the right standard:

1. Determine Your Company's Values
Before you can build a culture, you need to know what that culture will be working toward. Work with other trusted members of your company to come up with values and goals for the future.They will be the foundation from which you move forward and should set the tone. If your company values sustainability, use that as a jumping off point. You can use that by having recycling available in offices, or having company wide waste reduction goals. Whatever your values are, make sure they're reflected in the culture.

2. Figure Out Structure
If your company doesn't already have a clear structure that defines the various roles within the business, set them now. Forbes recommends you use this structure to highlight the parts of the business you find most important. Have the teams that are doing the work you care most about report directly to you. If that doesn't make sense, have them report as high up as you can. This not only lets those employees know you value the work they're doing, but it also gives you insight into vital aspects of your business.

3. Climb a Wall
Or ride a roller coaster, or play a game: Corporate events are a fun way to encourage your employees to connect with one another and build company loyalty. It doesn't have to be extravagant, either – even in-office events like company wide challenges or holiday parties build a sense of culture. You can set aside a relatively small event budget and still offer employees opportunities to cut loose. 

4. Talk to People
As you're rolling out new efforts to establish a company culture, encourage employees to let you know what they think. Although you have the best sense of the company as a whole, insight from the people who work for you is invaluable. There is always something to learn from seeing something through another person's point of view. In addition to gaining perspective, open communication is, in and of itself, an important aspect of a positive company culture. You always want your employees to feel like they can reach out to you or their managers. Setting a precedent of encouraging input will make employees know they are heard.

5. Reward Good Examples
When you see someone exemplifying your company culture, make sure people take notice. In meetings, acknowledge people who follow the standards you're trying to set. Simple acts can draw people's attention, and when they see what actions other people are being recognized for, they'll want to take those actions, too. 

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