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Pretty well every company has a culture. What’s yours and how important is it to the growth of your business? If we’ve learned any lessons from Google and the success they’ve found from promoting the “Google Culture”, we would know that establishing your company culture can be as important to your success as the product you’re selling.

Every single small or medium sized business I started consisted of little to no structure. We all worked together for common goals: “Grow the business” and “Make the customers happy”. Our culture (and I didn’t know what culture was at the time) was an extension of our values and our values at the time were focused on having a good time, being a little different, learning (which included everyone) and killing for the customer.

I wouldn’t say I was a rebel when it came to business but my partners and I certainly chose a “road less traveled”. The few jobs I had prior to starting my own business turned me off structure and bureaucracy. I would regularly walk out, without looking back, if a manager greeted me by staring at the clock when I was eight minutes late.

I learned from a man named Bob Newman (Shakey’s Pizza Parlor) to not expect your employees to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. He, the manager, would come out of his office to empty the over flowing garbage can while we stood around, doing nothing, waiting for a customer. It sparked something in me. I never said a word to him about it but from then on, I always emptied the trash when we had a slow period. I did it because he led by example and I respected him for it. When I was President of Money Mart, I took a page out of Bob Newman’s book. If the lobby was messy, I would quietly ask to borrow a broom and begin cleaning. The manager and staff would stare in shock, then struggle to look busy and be cleaning as well.

Your company culture is the mortar that bonds all the other pieces together. When things get tough, how you’ve built a relationship with your people might be what makes or breaks you. Culture is made up of values, style and leadership. Think about your business or where you work – what’s the culture? Would your employees go that extra mile for you? Or your customers? Are they standing around or emptying the garbage? Do they look forward to work each day or is it a drudge till 5p.m.? Establishing a culture is crucial but leading by example is the most important part.

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