The X Factor for Small Business

Mike Patterson
President
The Alias Group

Often, business owners and leaders put significant focus on the outward, customer facing aspects of their business. This attention makes practical sense given the short-term financial gains that can be achieved by adding value to the customer experience.

But there is an X factor that seems to be overlooked by many small business leaders, a factor that can create short and long-term revenue gains, a factor that can increase internal productivity and reduce costs. This X factor is Corporate Culture.

Have you ever tried to maintain the chemicals in a fish aquarium? Think of trying to maintain the proper PH in a one-gallon fish bowl versus a 10,000-gallon aquarium. A small misstep in chemicals in the one-gallon bowl can kill your goldfish, whereas the huge aquarium can withstand minor chemical variability. The same holds true for corporate culture in small vs. large businesses.

Most published articles and books about corporate culture seem to be geared toward large, Fortune 500 companies. Logically speaking, large companies have access to resources, budget, and staff to invest in and promote their corporate identity. However, the vast majority of businesses in America are not big business. The Small Business Association (SBA) reports that 99% of businesses in America are classified as small businesses (less than 1,500 employees depending on industry).

Obviously there's a huge discrepancy between what corporate culture publications would have you believe about domestic business sizes and the reality of those businesses. So does the lack of literature on small business culture indicate that culture isn’t important in small companies?

Not at all.

The culture of a small business can have a significant impact on the vitality of a company. A single toxic personality can devastate the morale of a small company. It can drive away good people and create a counter culture that takes over the office, creating hostility, resentment, negativity, cliques, or worse. In a medium or large corporation, the problematic individual cannot do nearly as much damage.

Company culture is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle of success for a business. It can drive a number of critical factors:

* Talent acquisition and retention

* Productivity

* Innovation

* Work/Life balance

There are a number of questions that should be explored to fully see the big picture of corporate culture in a small business. How important is it for small businesses to create a culture? What’s involved in creating and maintaining a good culture? What can a strong culture do for a small business? What is the financial investment to create and maintain a strong culture? What’s the ROI?

Stay tuned. Those are exactly the questions I'm aiming to answer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Patterson is the President and CEO of The Alias Group, a company devoted to helping businesses grow through inside sales and digital marketing. The company has been active for more than 25 years and works to bring customized, individual sales and marketing solutions to clients and continues to emphasize growth on both sides of their company/client relationship.

He got his start by building on the successes of his father's sales and distribution company, expanding into more aspects of industrial sales and adding an entire marketing division. As the company grew, the sales and marketing services evolved into a new brand: The Alias Group. The company underwent significant improvements as it grew. The facility, technology, corporate structure, and culture evolved; internally, The Alias Group refined to a team structure, instituted an open PTO plan, and actively applied The Alias Group's core values: Unique Focus, Genuine Connection, and Deliver More.

Mike is dedicated to the company's work and steady expansion, but when he is away from the office, he’s enjoying travel, visiting Dewey beach with his wife and three sons, or spending time on the sidelines of sporting events (whether they are those of his sons or The Ravens).

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  1. Mike is a good guy and Alias has a talented team. Corporate culture is very nuanced and sometimes not easily defined. We have found at Exam Master that providing flexibility and giving people some freedom as to where they work and when they work makes a big difference in terms of employee satisfaction and morale.

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