Culture is increasingly accepted as something that can have a huge influence on the success of a business. It has a direct influence on staff morale and therefore quality of output and on cost of recruitment amongst many other things.

culture in a micro businessBut how do you build culture in a micro business where there are fewer people within the organisation?

We turned to micro business owners to find out.

Paul Nesbitt – Linenbundle.com

We’ve only been trading for a few months and there are only a couple of us in the business. But culture is really important to us and we’re determined that, as we grow, our values remain instilled at the core of our business.

We sell luxury bedding which might not, on the surface, sound like a product that needs brand values or culture. “It’s just bedding, right?”

But absolutely not. We’ve laser targeted a product that is luxurious for a market that we understand inside out. And we’ve built our brand to deliver on luxury at a great price. That’s something we, as founders, are passionate about.

We’ve given it personality, found a problem to solve and actually genuinely love our own product. And as we grow, we want the newcomers to the business to love our product and believe they are working in a business that delivers luxury at the best price.

We want our culture to be one of delivering the best quality at the best value.

Paul’s key tip for building company culture in a micro business: Start with the product and make sure everyone in the business in those early days believes it’s the best it can be. Loving the product is where it all begins.

Liz Rosling – SMELoans.co.uk

Culture starts with the first people in the business and it breeds. So actually, you could argue that the micro business sized companies are the ones where this stuff is most important. I think you have to start with a set of values. Not just fancy words and adjectives. But a real set of things that you want to be recognised as. And actually, I think these things are often consistent with the personal values of founders.

So, in short, from day one make sure you understand what your values are. And make sure you hire people who inherently behave in a way consistent with them to ensure that sticks as you grow.

Liz’s key tip for building company culture in a micro business: Hire people who behave in a way that’s consistent with your value and the culture you want to instil.

Stacey MacNaught – MacNaughtdigital.co.uk

The startup phase is the best time to think about culture – when everyone works very closely and has the opportunity to decide the direction collaboratively.

Culture will vary based on the type of people within a business, what that business offers and, of course, the personalities of the founders.

There are 3 people in my small marketing consultancy, so I still consider myself very much an independent consultant and the people working for the consultancy have flexibility in terms of hours worked and whether they work them from the office or remotely. In some ways, I thought that might make it harder to build culture in the early days, as we might only spend 3 days a week in the same place.

But actually, it has been great. I want the culture amongst the team to be that we do the very best for the client always and push for better and better results. I want everyone I work with to be able to look back at the end of every day and believe they gave it their all. I’ve got people I trust in the business with a similar mentality to my own. So that helps. But by also allowing them the freedoms to work remotely or flexibly, I have found it enhances that trust and actually, they’re more determined.

Only if you have a culture of always giving it your all can you actually allow people those freedoms.

Stacey’s key tip for building company culture in a micro business: Give flexibility and only work with people you can trust not to abuse it. Treating people like the adults they are breeds a respectful working environment.

Culture in business

There are academic studies you can take into culture and you can read research papers on the environment in which people best flourish. And you might be forgiven for thinking culture is only a concern with much bigger companies. But certainly, from the people we spoke to within micro businesses in the UK, it’s certainly right up there on the agenda from day one.