This post is sponsored by Visa Business.  All the thoughts shared are my own.

As entrepreneurs we’ve got a lot of advantages over the “big guys” – for example, we can quickly respond and adapt our businesses to the needs of our clients and shift our marketing strategies to capitalize on trends.

But it’s often easy to overlook what we can learn from some of the big companies who are doing things right.

When I say “Apple” what comes to mind?  How about “Tom’s Shoes”?  Or “Zappos”?  Or “Amazon”?

One of the things they’re all doing right is creating company culture that defines their big goals, supports their branding and the customer experience they want to create, and motivates their employees.

CompanyCulture

What IS company culture?

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.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Company_culture

How does company culture apply to businesses like ours, when we’re the only “employee” or our “employees” are actually virtual independent contractors?  Does culture matter for us?  How does it show up in our businesses?

1) Culture is the predominant beliefs and behaviors within a group or organization. Culture is NOT the posters on the wall or the fancy words or slogans espoused by leaders. Culture is the unspoken rules that most people understand. It’s “how-we-do-things-around-here.”

2) Culture can also be understood as the sum of What Leaders Create and What Leaders Allow. Leaders almost always deserve their organization’s culture – good or bad. If they don’t like it they simply need to reflect on, “What am I creating?” (proactive actions that send a message) and “What am I allowing?” (passive/non-actions that send a message).

-Rob Mullins

How do you define your company culture?

I reached out to a few entrepreneur friends to get their thoughts on the topic:

The Brand Therapist has a culture of collaboration and respect between members of the team and with our clients.

We like to listen closely to people in order to help them move toward their business goals. We like to teach in a way that makes learning surprising and enjoyable. We believe that creativity happens in a relaxed and playful environment and find ways to inject fun whenever possible.

This culture makes it possible to get the best out of our team and our clients. The results are a relaxed, productive workplace and happy clients.

-Kathy Swiderski, The Brand Therapist

Diane Cunningham of the National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs shared her culture & guidelines statement which reads (excerpted):

The National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs (NACWE) is committed to sharing its connections, resources, and knowledge with an entrepreneurial tribe of women leaders and visionary thinkers.

The National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs was born out of a passion to connect women who are ready to create, collaborate, and contribute to changing the world. We gather people and ideas together through online content, tele-courses, individual/group coaching and retreats.

At NACWE, we think big. We have lofty but attainable goals. Together, we can change the world.  And as we creatively leverage our presence in the business world we learn to not only survive in a changing economy, but to thrive in the midst of it.

Do you need a company culture statement?

Rob Mullins asked the perfect questions in his response above: what are you creating and what are you allowing?

Does the shape your company is taking and the brand your clients see line up with your vision?

A culture statement allows you to clearly share your big focus, top priorities and ultimate vision for your entrepreneurial venture.  It’s an easy to share a statement that allows others to see the vision in your head so they know how they’re expected to show up when representing your company, how to interact with your clients, and what the real vision is behind the daily tasks and work.  It also helps YOU stay focused on what matters in your business.

Close your eyes and think about your big vision for a moment.  What is it about your business that’s making a difference in the world or for your clients?  Focusing on that, do you feel more motivated right now and fired up to get to work?

Imagine how much more engaged and interested in supporting the growth of your company your employees, independent contractors, affiliates and others could be if they saw the big picture vision you see for your business.

That’s why we as entrepreneurs need company culture statements, too!

Your turn to talk back…

Do you have a culture statement?

What would you include in yours as important for the big vision you have?  What’s your mission?  What are your core values?

Visa Business_August Infographic_081413

I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/