When I launched a performance marketing agency in 2015, and later its sister digital creative agency in 2017, one of the motivators was the chance to work with people that were like-minded and enjoyed each other’s company. A strong culture is crucial to any successful business model. It is one of the most valuable currencies you can have; it allows you to retain and attract the best talent, and it ensures your agency delivers phenomenal work imbued with real personality.
You don’t have to have huge budgets for social events, or fancy company perks. I’ve seen many businesses make the mistake over the years of undervaluing the importance of spending the time to invest in company culture. And this is not limited to big corporations or those with large investment. It’s about a genuine focus on the people in your business.
For example, when Roast started we were just five people – a small, but passionate force. Starting a new business in this financial climate was always going to be risky; we were minnows in a market full of huge network agencies. One benefit of being small, though, is the ability to be nimble. You are able to have complete control over how your company is run and are able to make culture a central pillar of the business. Personally, the values we deemed to be the most important were authenticity, purpose, collaboration and restless minds. Standing alone, none of these values would be considered revolutionary, but in combination they form the strong backbone of a growing business.
By putting people at the heart of everything you increase your chances of success ten-fold. If one member of staff is unmotivated or disengaged it can have a knock-on effect leading to sub-par performance on a larger scale. This perfectionist streak means you have to create an environment that is simply a great place for people to work.
Creating this environment isn’t easy. Negative energy and complacency can be hard to eradicate once endemic within any business. They can spread quickly and cause real problems. The only solution is to start how you mean to continue – by hiring and retaining people who make the office a pleasant and positive place to be every day.
As issues in the workplace emerge and, occasionally, cast a dark light across the industry, people being treated fairly and feeling happy and comfortable, is now more important than ever.
Your culture is essentially your company’s character; it should reflect your true beliefs and it can’t just be switched on and off. Of course, we always aim to deliver exceptional results for our clients, but the happiness and well-being of our staff is what we should all put at the heart of our business.
Ollie Bishop is chief executive officer and founder at Roast