This blog post is being brought to you by Visa Small Business.
You’ve probably heard entrepreneurs talk about the importance of creating a company culture, and a work environment that fosters personal growth, productivity, and joy for employees.
A great example of this is Zappos.com, a company that started out selling shoes online and eventually sold to Amazon. Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com talks about why creating an incredible company culture is the highest priority for him, even over revenue:
But what if you’re a sole proprietor and your team is made up of contractors and people you work with virtually? A company culture is still important, and it’s still something you can create and foster.
Here are 8 ways you can create a company culture with your virtual team:
1. Define your values
I communicate my values in the job descriptions I post when hiring new contractors. A lot of the time, people respond with a generic template response that they probably send to everyone when responding to job postings. I never respond back to those people, and I only interview people who make it clear to me that they “get” our values and strongly believe in what we’re doing.
2. Trust your gut when hiring
I can usually feel whether someone’s a good cultural fit in the first 5 seconds I talk to them on Skype. There has to be that instant chemistry if I’m going to work with someone on a project that’s really important to me.
3. Hang out online together
I know a lot of people who manage each member of their virtual team individually, and the team never really talks to each other. Breaking down the walls and having team meetings via Google Hangouts have helped us develop a culture at She Takes on the World.
Even if one of my contractors aren’t working directly with another contractor, it presents a networking opportunity when we do a Google Hangout and it makes people care more about their piece of the bigger picture. Which brings me to my next point…
4.Communicate your big picture vision
Everyone you work with should know the bigger picture, and what you are working towards. It will get them excited about the future of the company, and make them feel more a part of it whether they are working with you short term or long term. I’ve had contractors work with me on one small piece of the big picture, then go out and be a cheerleader for our brand. They understand what we’re trying to build, and they see why it’s valuable so they spread the love.
5. Meet in person when possible
Sometimes this is really difficult, depending on where your virtual team is located. One of my key virtual team members and I met up in person to plan the rebranding of She Takes on the World since it was a massive undertaking.
Sometimes it’s easier to share ideas and to come up with a strategy when we’re working in the same room. We also made time to hang out together without working, and go on a wine tour. I think you’ve got a pretty great company culture when you enjoy hanging out with the people you work with outside of work.
6. Be transparent
People appreciate transparency. I often share details of my investment deal, how much money we’re earning, and what I’m worried about with my virtual team. On a couple occasions they have thanked me for being so honest and open about money, and any challenges I feel we’re facing.
7. Add incentives
My team is working towards a huge goal with me right now, and when we reach it, I’m taking my virtual team on a trip. You don’t have to take people on a trip as an incentive, but adding in bonuses for great work and even sending personal thank you notes can go a long way.
8. Don’t micromanage
Let your team members take ownership over a piece of your business. Once I delegate a task, I never micromanage. Being entrepreneurial is part of our culture, and micromanaging has no place in our company. This goes back to trusting your gut when you hire people in the first place, and making sure the people you’re bringing on board share your values and are excited to make things happen for your business.
Creating a company culture, even among a virtual team, isn’t just about camaraderie and enjoying the team that you’re working with. A strong, positive business culture can also lead to a strong, cash flow positive business, one where motivated team members are driving massive results for your company. Take a look at this infographic from Visa Business:
Now I want to hear from you: How do you create company culture, and make your contractors and virtual team feel like they are part of a much bigger vision?
Disclaimer: 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/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.