When you work for yourself and have a company of one, something you probably don’t put a lot of thought into is company culture. Why would you think about culture when the only one it effects is yourself?
The reality is, your company culture is one of the most important things you can establish early on in your business life. This is what determines not only the quality of your life, but the perception that people have of you and your business.
A Company That Gets It
A few days ago I found myself in Fort Collins, Colorado touring the New Belgium brewery. I’ve been familiar with the company for awhile, but it wasn’t until I took this tour that I truly understood how successful they’ve been.
New Belgium was started by an electrical engineer and a social worker. True story.
In the late 80’s Jeff Lebesch had a passion for two things: homebrewing and biking. He combined the two in one epic bike trip across Belgium where he learned everything he could about Belgian beer and came back to form what would eventually be one of the largest craft breweries in the country.
However the thing that stood out to me most about the company was how they do everything contrary to the way most organizations have been doing business.
They’re a big business that has built their culture around lifestyle and fun. What has this resulted in? A company with next to no turnover, employees that feel empowered, and a community of happy people that are passionate about what they do.
We don’t see this very often these days.
If you’ve been around the company for a few years they take you on an all expenses paid trip back to Belgium to experience the original bike tour as Jeff did in the 80’s – while on the clock. Pretty cool incentive.
What Does This Mean For You?
When I think about this story there are two main things that I pull from it.
1) Establishing a Company Culture is Essential
For what the founders of New Belgium lacked in business experience they made up for in common sense. Let’s create a place where people want to work. How do we do this? We just incorporate all of the stuff we like to do outside of work.
It’s just a big lifestyle business – of sorts.
So why is this important to you as a solopreneur?
Your business and life are as closely intertwined as it gets. Your personal company culture is essentially your lifestyle. If you work 80 hours a week on stuff you aren’t that excited about and aren’t making time for the stuff you do love, that’s not something many people aspire towards. It reflects poorly upon both your life and business.
If you establish your life around things you love and are passionate about, people notice. Those are the type of people that others want to do business with and be around.
2) Following Your Passion Can Take You a Long Way
As I’ve mentioned ad nauseam within Location Rebel, you don’t have to be passionate about your work – you just have to be passionate about something.
That said, you can turn your passion into work. Just look at New Belgium.
I’ve taken my passion for photography and built multiple businesses around it with HDR Software and Make Your Photos Not Suck. Much smaller scale, but same principles.
There’s opportunity everywhere. It’s just up to you if you choose to embrace and pursue it.
Think Bigger Than You Are
Much of New Belgium’s success has come because they’ve been able to think like a small business, and keep much of that culture.
There’s also a lot to be said for the small entrepreneur to think like a big business. While your business is in it’s infancy, think about things like company culture and your mission. Establish what this is early on, because as you grow, it will start to take on a life of it’s own if you haven’t thought it through.
What are some of the tennets to your personal company culture? What are the essentials?
Photo credit Quanha
Sean OgleSean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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