19 December 2023

Keeping the ‘Small Business’ Vibe as Your Company Expands

By Ronald Smith

Today, let’s talk about something that’s important to me: preserving that special small business atmosphere even as our company grows.

You know, sometimes it can be tough to maintain that personal touch when things start getting bigger. But fear not! I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve to help us keep that cozy, welcoming feeling intact.

First off, let’s talk about staying connected. It’s crucial to stay in touch with each other as our team expands. Whether it’s through regular team meetings, informal chats, or even team-building activities, taking the time to connect with one another is key. This way, we can keep the lines of communication open and maintain that close-knit vibe we love.

Next, let’s not forget about our customers. They’re the heart and soul of any business, big or small. So, let’s make sure we continue to treat them with the same care and attention we did when we were just starting out. Remember to listen to their feedback, respond to their concerns, and go that extra mile to make them feel valued. It’s these personal touches that will keep them coming back, no matter how much we grow.

Now, as our company expands, it’s natural for roles and responsibilities to shift. But let’s not lose sight of the things that make us unique. Each and every one of us brings something special to the table, and it’s important to recognize and celebrate our individual strengths. By fostering a culture of appreciation and encouragement, we can ensure that everyone feels valued and that their contribution is recognized.

Lastly, let’s not lose sight of our roots. We started as a small business for a reason, and it’s important to remember and embrace those reasons as we grow. Let’s hold on to the core values and principles that guided us from the beginning, so that even as we evolve, we never lose sight of who we are and why we do what we do.

So, my friends, let’s embark on this journey of growth while holding onto what makes us special. By staying connected, valuing our customers, appreciating each other, and staying true to our roots, we can retain that small business feel even as we reach new heights. Together, we can create a company that thrives while still being warm and inviting – a place where everyone feels like they belong.

Keeping the 'Small Business' Vibe as Your Company Expands

One of the best things about owning a small business is the perks it offers to employees. They get to have a say in decisions, be part of a tight-knit team, and even have a stake in the company. But as the business grows and becomes more successful, those who joined in the early days may start to miss that small business vibe they signed up for.

To address this, I asked the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) for their advice on how a company can maintain that small business feel even as it grows. Here are their suggestions on how to preserve that close-knit company culture:

1. Give Personalized Gifts

Let’s bring back the lost art of giving special gifts! As we grow our company, it’s easy for our employees to feel like they aren’t as valued as before. But by taking the time to choose a thoughtful and unique gift for each individual, we show them that we truly understand and appreciate who they are. It’s a way of saying, ‘I’m still thinking of you.’ And what better occasion to do this than during work anniversaries? – Jonathan Sparks, Sparks Law

2. Throw a Party

I’ve been organizing our company’s annual event, ‘Customer Service Week’, ever since we started. We’ve come a long way in the past 18 years, but we still prioritize this event because it brings so much joy to everyone. Sure, it takes more effort and money to buy prizes and organize games now that more employees participate, but we do it because we want them to understand how much we value them.

3. Show Consideration for Their Time and Skills

No need to overwhelm your employees with too many clients and assignments. It can happen when you suddenly get a bunch of new clients or when different companies merge. As an employee, I want to do my best, but getting double or triple the workload makes me feel like a small part of a big machine that isn’t reaching its full potential. It’s better to grow gradually and respect my time and abilities.

4. Let Employees Share Their Thoughts

It’s important to make sure all team members feel like their opinions matter. When you let your team know that their feedback is always welcome, it can make a big difference in the company culture. That’s what Kristin Kimberly Marquet from Marquet Media, LLC recommends.

5. Stay in Touch Regularly

When it comes to fostering open communication, it’s important to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their concerns or opinions. From the start of their employment, it’s crucial to ensure that they have the opportunity to meet with all levels of management, and then continue to have regular check-ins with different levels. This one-on-one check-in process allows everyone to feel valued, knowing that their opinions matter and that they are an important part of the team. By doing this, we can create a culture of openness and collaboration.

6. Form Small Teams

To maintain that small business feel as a company grows, one effective strategy is to divide different areas of the company into small teams. Each team can have its own unique essence, while still staying true to the core values of the company. This way, every team member can still feel connected to the larger whole and keep that sense of belonging alive.

7. Reward with Bonuses or Awards

In the new post-pandemic world, company culture is often missing but really important to address. As our company grows, we see the lack of company culture becoming more noticeable in the new remote environment. To keep things exciting, I think we should have monthly awards and bonuses for each department to recognize outstanding employees. This will keep things fresh and motivate employees to exceed expectations and look forward to work. ~ Michael Sinensky, WeShield

8. Get Rid of Unnecessary Rules

As we’ve grown, one thing our employees want to continue doing is making a difference and being heard. If we need to make a change, we shouldn’t have to go through layers and layers of unnecessary rules and regulations. Change should flow freely and changes should be implemented quickly, which helps maintain a small business atmosphere. By celebrating the positive steps and acknowledging the people responsible, we empower future initiatives as well. ~ Marjorie Adams, Fourlane

9. Be a Friendly Leader

You shouldn’t feel like you’re working for someone you can’t see or talk to. I believe that owners and managers should prioritize building relationships. Treat your employees like real people who are important, not just like robots on an assembly line. Let’s celebrate our victories together and stay accessible. It’s crucial for you to know that your work matters and that I value and appreciate what you do. ~ Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

10. Start Exciting New Projects

When you have more employees and managers in your small company, it can start to feel like a burden if you let it. I know from experience that people need to feel like they’re growing and making progress in order to stay excited and motivated. That’s why it’s important to mix things up a bit – try new projects and give your team opportunities to learn and develop. And make sure to keep up a good pace by celebrating achievements and recognizing those who go the extra mile. ~ Miles Jennings, Recruiter.com

11. Take care of your employees

Even as your company grows, you can still maintain a small business feel by putting your people first. Your customers and employees aren’t just numbers – they’re the heart of your business. When you recognize and appreciate their hard work, it creates a positive atmosphere. And that positive culture will shine through in the quality of your work. So remember, it’s important to treat people well. ~ Jared Atchison, WPForms

12. Treat Everyone Fairly and Kindly

To maintain a valuable company culture, it’s crucial for me to treat all my employees with fairness and kindness. I must ensure that no one feels favored or discriminated against based on my personal feelings. It’s unethical to treat one person better or worse than another in the workplace. By treating everyone equally, I can create a unique small business atmosphere that fosters positivity and respect for all. – Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

13. Keep in Touch with Your Team