Culture is a big deal in business. It’s always been, but I think that for the small business, it doesn’t always receive the same intentional thought that a larger, thriving business must give it.
The funny thing is that in a small business, or particularly in a business of one, the business is all culture. Small business owners don’t simply go to work, they are work. A fun, vibrant, glowing culture can be for the small business one of its most attractive assets.
The funny thing is though, you first have to understand what it is before you can start to think about how to have it.
I wondered out loud, as you can do so easily these days, on a fairly new social network called Quora. (I’ll write something on this service soon, but today just wanted you to see this one aspect of it.) Quora is a site where you can ask questions of the community and hope to get thoughtful (more than 140 characters) answers.
The question I posed was this: What does culture look and feel like in a one person business? (Link to the question on Quora)
The answers speak so thoroughly to what culture means and how to make it present that I’ve decided to publish a few of the answers to spark more conversation around this topic.
Michael Martine, Remarkablogger
The short answer is that it looks and feels like you.
The longer answer: In this case I don’t think there’s much of a difference between culture, marketing and branding. You can have your own internal culture which would be a reflection of your personality, which quite possibly no one else will ever see. Otherwise, your interactions with others will give them a sense of your one-person culture.
It seems to me that what we’ve learned about personal branding, authenticity, and personality through activities such as blogging, social media, and of course live get-togethers can help us understand and create our own personal culture.
There’s the aspects of ourselves we’re conscious of, and there are aspects of which we’re unconscious. Both create our personal cultures. Culture isn’t always under our control.
Glenn Hansen, Communication Strategist and Content …
It’s a great question, and funny to think that the topic of “culture” might be considered only in groups and not for individuals. I’ve studied the “corporate culture” concept, in practice and in theory. And a one-person business can have culture just like – or even more so than – a large corporate body. Sometimes I work alone, and sometimes in groups with clients or project partners. The way I interact, the promise I make to clients, the values I bring to a task, the presentation I make in groups large or small all reflect the culture of which I created the business. Culture does not necessarily change with the size of a group. But I like the question.
Mark Brimm, Digital Marketing consultant, Preside…
I just posted something along these lines earlier today before I saw this, but I’ll retell here:
I started out as a solopreneur and found that the only way to grow had to start mentally with how I perceived my own capacity to grow and become the company I needed to become. For me, the answer seemed to be to do business with others as I would expect others to do business with me. As it turns out, most entrepreneur clients and company clients appreciate the candor and recognize someone that they feel some connection with when they see into a company philosophy of character. So, in answer to the question, I think it looks and feels like, potentially, what any client would be expecting from a big company, but without the overhead and long turnaround. If you can just keep those factors in place, now you’ve got a great company culture later on, as well.
Jon DiPietro, Engineer by education, computer geek …
To borrow a popular quote, “Our culture is what we do when we think the customer isn’t looking.”
I don’t plan to be a solopreneur forever, so I try to maintain processes, policies and behaviors that are scalable but reflect my ethics and values. It’s difficult but I think we are much better off by establishing some sort of “culture” that can a) help us remain consistent and b) prevent us from slacking by developing unprofessional habits
So, what does culture look and feel like in your business? What intentional role does culture play?