3 Ways to Create a Valuable Culture Inside Your Business
Many factors drive your company’s value, but perhaps the most important is how your business would perform without you.
To get your company to flourish when you’re not around, you need owner-like effort from your team. Inspiring owner-like effort comes from cultivating a vibrant culture inside your business.
Here are three ways to get your employees to care as much as you do:
- Cast Your Employees as Stars in a “David vs. Goliath” Movie
In 2008 Gavin Hammar started Sendible, a platform that allows companies to manage all their social media accounts from one place.
Sendible grew steadily until 2016, when a large competitor entered the space, causing it to hit a sales plateau. Hammar gathered his employees and explained the challenge they were facing. Rather than sugar coat the problem, Hammar encouraged his team to think of themselves as underdogs in an us-against-the-world battle.
Hammar set out to position his company as smaller and started a podcast, shared photos of his employees online, answered customer questions via asynchronous video, and sent personalized LinkedIn messages to every new customer.
With an enemy to hate, Hammar’s employees followed the boss’s lead and gave extra effort to humanize themselves and the company.
Sendible started to grow again. By 2021 the company was thriving, which is when Hammar accepted a lucrative acquisition offer from ASG.
- Provide Perks Others Can’t
Another way to create a thriving culture is to offer perks your competitors can’t.
Natalie and Chris Nagele are the life and business partners behind the software as a service (SaaS) company Postmark. Unlike most hard-driving software executives, the Nageles were committed to creating a great place to work. Rather than take on outside investment and the corresponding pressures of demanding investors, the Nageles decided to self-fund their business.
Obsessed with helping her employees do more meaningful work, Natalie began researching ways to inspire her staff. She came across data from the Henley Business School suggesting implementing a four-day workweek created a healthier workplace culture.
Inspired by Natalie’s findings, the Nageles considered implementing a four-day workweek. They didn’t need the permission of their board or outside investors, because the couple owned the company outright. After a short discussion, the couple decided to try it.
Transitioning to a three-day weekend created a culture in which their employees enjoyed working, resulting in consistent growth for Postmark until 2022, when the Nageles sold the company in a life-changing exit.
- Gamify Your Business
Another way to inspire your employees to give owner-like effort is to gamify your business.
Josh Davis is the founder of the freight brokering company Speedee Transport. Brokering freight is all about gross margin—the difference between what you charge the customer and how much it costs to hire a driver to move the stuff.
Rather than simply telling his employees to focus on gross margin, Davis made a game of it. He created quoting software with a virtual gross margin scoreboard for his employees to see. The software gave each employee a very public, objective, and transparent scoreboard they could follow daily to know whether they were winning or losing that day.
Davis then tied his employees’ compensation to gross margin, which created a healthy competitive culture within the company.
After gamifying his business, the company saw tremendous growth. Within two years, Speedee Transport grew from two to forty-five employees, which caught the attention of an acquirer, who offered to acquire Speedee Transport for a truckload in 2019.
One of the secrets to building a valuable company is to get your employees to work as hard as you do. Owner-like effort comes from making your people feel like part of a shared mission and giving them a working environment that brings out the best in them.
From Culture to Sale: 5 Strategies to Build a Business Culture that Enhances the Value of Your Company
#1 Cast Your Employees as Stars in a “David vs. Goliath” Movie
When faced with challenges, it’s crucial to rally your team and make them feel like they’re part of something significant. Gavin Hammar, the founder of Sendible, accomplished this by positioning his company as an underdog in an “us-against-the-world” battle. He humanized his employees and the company by starting a podcast, sharing employee photos online, providing personalized customer interactions, and embracing a smaller, more agile image. By giving employees a common enemy and inspiring a collective effort, Sendible regained its growth trajectory and ultimately achieved a successful acquisition.
#2 Provide Perks Others Can’t
Differentiating your business by offering unique perks can contribute to a thriving culture. Natalie and Chris Nagele, the founders of Postmark, sought to create a great workplace and decided to implement a four-day workweek based on research suggesting it fostered a healthier culture. Since they owned the company outright, they had the flexibility to make this decision without external pressures. Transitioning to a three-day weekend boosted employee satisfaction and contributed to consistent growth for Postmark, leading to a rewarding exit when they eventually sold the company.
#3 Gamify Your Business
Gamification can be a powerful tool to inspire employee engagement and promote a culture of healthy competition. Josh Davis, the founder of Speedee Transport, turned the focus on gross margin into a game by creating quoting software with a virtual scoreboard. Employees could track their performance and see whether they were winning or losing each day. Davis also tied compensation to gross margin, further fueling motivation. This gamification strategy fostered a competitive culture within the company and propelled its growth, attracting the attention of an acquiring company.
#4 Foster a Culture of Continuous Learning and Development
Investing in the growth and development of your employees not only benefits them individually but also contributes to the overall value of your business. Encourage a culture of continuous learning by providing opportunities for training, workshops, and professional development programs. Support employees in acquiring new skills and knowledge relevant to their roles and career aspirations. By promoting a learning mindset and providing resources for growth, you empower your employees to perform at their best and contribute to the long-term success of your business.
#5 Encourage Collaboration and Teamwork
A collaborative and supportive work environment can significantly enhance employee engagement and productivity. Encourage teamwork by fostering open communication, breaking down silos, and promoting cross-functional collaboration. Implement collaborative tools and platforms that facilitate seamless information sharing and project management across teams. Encourage employees to work together, share ideas, and leverage each other’s strengths to tackle challenges and achieve shared goals. By promoting a culture of collaboration, you create a sense of belonging and unity within your organization, which positively impacts employee morale and the overall value of your business.
In summary, creating a valuable culture inside your business requires more than just financial incentives or perks. By casting employees as heroes, providing unique perks, fostering continuous learning and development, encouraging collaboration and teamwork, you can inspire your employees to care as much as you do. When your team is fully engaged and invested in the success of the business, it not only drives growth and innovation but also enhances the overall value of your company.
Contact Investment Business Brokers to learn more about how to set up your company’s culture for a successful transition.