Company Culture and Solopreneurs
If you search online, you’ll find a variety of definitions for “company culture,” but I think the one Wikipedia has posted (using “organizational culture”) really hits the mark:
Organizational culture is the behavior of humans who are part of an organization and the meanings that the people attach to their actions. Culture includes the organization values, visions, norms, working language, systems, symbols, beliefs and habits. It is also the pattern of such collective behaviors and assumptions that are taught to new organizational members as a way of perceiving, and even thinking and feeling. Organizational culture affects the way people and groups interact with each other, with clients, and with stakeholders.
Bingo!! Everything you stand for, how you run your business, and how you interact with others as a solopreneur and small business owner are key components of your company culture. Sure, your company culture affects how you personally feel about your work, but it extends far beyond you. If you’re miserable because you’ve created a company culture that sucks, it’s understandable that you feel bad for you. But you should feel even worse for your business on the whole because those negative vibes are contagious; your clients, vendors, colleagues, and even casual acquaintances will feel the toxicity of your self-imposed working environment.
How do you nurture a positive company culture as a solopreneur?
Simply pay attention to many of the same things businesses with employees focus on:
Lead by Example.
Demonstrate patience. Control your temper. Don’t be pessimistic. Although you’re a solo-business owner, that doesn’t mean others aren’t watching you and following your lead.
Be a Team Player.
Be collaborative. Pitch in and do a little more than might be expected when others need your help. When you’re working with clients, you’re part of a team. That means you need to think and function that way.
Focus on being YOUR best, not better than everyone else.
Contribute your best in every situation, but don’t try to one up everyone else. While a competitive nature can drive you to achieve, it can also drive others away.
Offer encouragement and forgive mistakes.
Be that person who lifts others (and your own self) up and motivates them to try harder and never give up. Also, cut yourself and others some slack when they err. Mistakes almost always transform into valuable lessons learned when owned up to and when processes are fixed so they don’t happen a second time.
Don’t spread gossip or bad-mouth others
That sort of negativity NEVER produces anything worthwhile. Never. Nobody likes a gossip or hater. Nobody.
Be proud of who you are and what you’ve built as a solopreneur. Don’t be afraid to show it. Get some high-quality business cards, invest in a professional website that does you and your business justice, and join a high-caliber networking group that will make you better connected. In short, don’t hide. Communicate your capabilities.
Find the fun.
“Stuffy stick in the mud” and “professional” are not synonymous. Don’t take yourself or others too seriously. Relax a little and most often you’ll find that others around you will feel more relaxed, too. Use humor (appropriately, of course!) as an icebreaker and way to keep make business relationships more friendly. Above all, take time away when you need it.
What sort of company culture does your solopreneur business have? Any other tips for creating a culture that solopreneurs – and all the people they’re connected with – can live with?
By Dawn Mentzer
Image courtesy of foto76 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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