Culture Over Cash

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For any business to become great, money must be seen only as a result, not the mission itself. If money is the primary focus of your company, you’ll enter into the rat race of competition and base your success on your balance sheet. Your mission must be something greater. It must inspire, not just your employees, but also your customers.

Companies like Apple and Virgin exemplify this ideal. Their mission drives profits, not the other way around. It’s also the reason they innovate and expand so effortlessly. They don’t focus on competition. They stick to their mission.

People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it. – Simon Sinek

Why you do what you do is what will define your culture. With that being said, here are 5 ways to build your company culture and inspire people to join with you.

1. Focus on WHY before you focus on WHAT or HOW.

Why even have a business? Why do you do what you do? Clarifying that will serve as the tool to grow your company. Money will be a natural result of an inspiring “why”. It’s also what will ensure longevity.

Paul Minors, in his book summary of Simon Sinek’s Start with Why, explains:

“Let’s imagine a company in the late 1800s that makes trains and railroads. If they define themselves by what they do, they would continue making trains and ignore the development of aircraft and die out. It they define themselves by why they do it; to transport mass amounts of people, maybe they would have lead the development of the airplane and be a major airline today.”

If you focus on WHY you do what you do before WHAT and HOW you do it, innovation happens. The driving force of your company needs to be about the reason you make products, not about the product itself.

2. Choose attitude over skills

In today’s fast-paced, profit driven economy, skill and experience are often seen as the most important factors in building a team in your business. However, lessons from successful businesses are showing that talent isn’t the most important aspect of a potential team member. Attitude is.

Hire people based on values first, then skill and experience. Skills can be taught. You want to hire people who believe what you believe and who will fit into your culture. They must have the same vision and be inspired to pursue it.

3. Create a culture of trust.

Trust enables innovation. It doesn’t focus on the rules. It focuses instead on creativity. Trust only happens when the leadership creates a safe and inviting place to work. Praise must be more prominent than criticism. Expectations must be clear and consistent. Give creative control to the people doing the work. Be open and vulnerable about mistakes. Allow people to fail and learn from their failures.

Overall, a culture of trust is built by the top leadership first and works its way down. Never expect something from your employees that you don’t expect from yourself.

This type of culture also pays dividend with your customers.

“In business, vulnerability works differently than in other realms of life. When you’re willing to share wins and losses, successes and failures, you’ll build more trust and loyalty among your core customers. In this way, being weak will make you stronger.”
 ― Dale Partridge

4. Grow community and you will grow profits.

A great product solves a problem. A great mission creates a culture. People aren’t loyal to products. They’re loyal to whatever the product represents. What kind of culture is your mission creating?

Think about Apple. Yes, Apple makes great products, but so do their competitors. In fact, most comparable products are cheaper than Apple’s. People buy Apple because of what is says about them. They want to “think different.” It’s Apple’s mission, and it’s the culture they’ve created. They just happen to make great products.

Apple is the most profitable company in the world, and it has everything to do with their mission.

5. Focus on inspiration, not motivation.

Great companies inspire people. More specifically, great leaders inspire people. Motivation will happen on its own if people are inspired. As Simon Sinek says,

“Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.”

If you are starting a business or building one already, take some time to clarify your WHY. Yes, there are many other factors involved, but for your company to make a lasting impact on the world, cash can’t be the focus. Focus on the culture you’re building instead.

Remember, money is just a result, not a mission.

Brian Sherman
Brian Sherman
Brian Sherman is an author, entrepreneur, husband and father. He is the Lead Writer and Content Manager for Voixly, a Texas-based Digital Marketing Firm. He authored the book, For Real This Time, and writes for several publications online on the topics of personal development, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

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