Creating Company Culture on Zero Budget

two people in a start-up working

Creating Company Culture on Zero Budget

We all know by now that company culture really matters in creating a sustainable and profitable business; but what if you just genuinely don’t have the budget right now to spend money on building a company culture? 

Putting our current global pandemic aside, we know that for many start-ups spending money on culture just isn’t a viable option in the early days. You’ve got to remain lean, agile, and of course, keep those investors happy with the financial decisions you’re making. 

While many investors now see culture as a worthwhile investment, there are still those who believe the ‘fluffy stuff’ can wait. 

Whether you’re a start-up or micro-business, the truth is culture is much easier to create in the early days then it is when you’re a mammoth corporate – so first of all, we would say relish in your youth. 

But if you really want to ensure that the culture is strong even on zero budget, we’ve rounded up our top tips to move your business forward with purpose and happy people.

Focus on Your Why

It sounds so simple, but ensuring you have got your mission and values clear is so important in everything your company culture does. 

If you don’t have a strong mission and values, you can quickly become one of those businesses which adds on plaster perks and silly office games to make it ‘look like’ you’ve got a company culture. 

Honestly, don’t waste your money on the frivolous material objects, what really counts is living by your purpose. 

Your mission should drive every decision you make around your business and your culture. 

When you have a clear mission, your culture naturally becomes much stronger because everyone knows what they’re getting out of bed for in the morning. 

two people talking at work

Hire on Purpose

Hiring people is such a sensitive experience for a start-up or small business, especially if you’re a founder and still heavily involved in the day-to-day running of the business. 

Your business is your baby; you’ve put blood, sweat and tears into building it, and what you don’t want is someone coming in ruining your hard work or disrupting the business. 

Hiring on your purpose is critical at ensuring you have the ‘right people’ coming into your company culture. To make it clear, there’s no such thing as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ people, but there is when it comes to your business because not everyone is going to feel passionate or empowered by your mission. This is why it’s so important to hire people who are just as dedicated and motivated by your mission and values as you are. 

When hiring anyone into your business, you need to ensure they hold the same values as the company and feel strongly about working towards the mission. 

During the interview process, ask them about their personal values, and what values they live by. 

It’s also good to ask what global or economic causes they are passionate about.

To build a strong, authentic culture, you must move beyond the old-fashioned hiring strategies, and look at truly connecting with the human you’re hiring. Don’t just ask about skills, get to know who they are and if they can be part of your movement. 

If it helps, we recently shared some tips with Found & Flourish about hiring your dream team in the early days. 

Share the Knowledge

Learning and development is one area that quickly gets cut, or doesn’t even exist in the early days of culture, but it’s vital at keeping people engaged in the work they’re doing. 

Boredom isn’t a good motivator, and in a national survey of over 400 employees spanning three generations (Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials), 70% of the respondents indicated that job-related training and development opportunities influenced their decision to stay at their job. 

Many people don’t leave because of pay; they leave because of a lack of fulfilment. 

Upskilling on hard skills and soft skills doesn’t need to be a costly culture expense; instead, utilise your existing team. 

The people you have in your business, and you, the founder, have so much knowledge and experience to share that this can be tapped into for the growth and development of your team. 

Knowledge sharing internally is a free and enlightening way to uplevel people’s skills. 

We’ve previously shared nine ways you can increase learning and development in company culture. 

Work Less Hours

Working less hours – you must think we’re crazy! 

But trust us, working fewer hours is the most significant workplace benefit most people now look for in an employer. 

Rather than spending hundreds and thousands of pounds on workplace benefits that nobody is going to use – yes free cinema tickets we’re looking at you – working fewer hours provides people with what they really want, more time! 

More time to spend doing things they love and being with the people they care about the most. 

Before you go adding on gym memberships, free lunch Fridays, or looking at any other quirky HR trend doing the rounds, think about what you’re really paying for and if people are going to actually use it. 

You would be amazed at the number of businesses we’ve worked with on their culture who have workplace benefits that only 5% of their team use. 

Build Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the superpower of the future of work.

Getting your team, even if they are a small team, to work on their self-development and self-awareness, will only provide you with stronger company culture. 

When emotional intelligence is high within a company culture, there is less conflict, more creativity and enhanced problem-solving. 

People don’t come to you with problems; they come with solutions. 

People don’t moan about customers; they empathise and provide better customer service. 

Establishing an environment where people feel safe to discuss their feelings and emotions is the start of this, and it must be nurtured from everyone in the company, the leaders and the team. 

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    About The Author

    Lizzie Benton is a people and culture specialist who supports organisations in developing a unique company culture and building engaged teams. Lizzie has been recognised as a millennial changing the world of work, and has been featured in the Metro, HuffingtonPost and has spoken across the UK on employee engagement. When not consulting or running a workshop, Lizzie can be found in rural Lincolnshire enjoying afternoon tea and fresh air.