How to Build a Billion Dollar Company Culture

I just finished reading Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos – a company that grew from a simple idea to over 1 billion in revenues in ten years. What was his secret to success? Culture. Based on my experience of working with many successful entrepreneurs from many different industries I´ve realized it really comes down to the 3 things a CEO/Leader must to do:

1. Create the Culture
2. Create the Systems
3. Get out of the way

The first step and most important step is to build an amazing culture.
Here is how you do it:

1. Vision

Start by vividly describing where you want your business to be in the next 3-5 years.  Write a paragraph on the 4 pillars of Sales, Service, People, and Profits.

Here is an outline of questions to help you along:

Sales – How will you market, what sales systems will you have in place? what products will you offer? and how will they be received in the market place?

Service – What will your customer service experience be like?  How will they feel when walking in and out of the door?  How will they talk to others about your company?

People – Who will be on your team?  How will they act, and perform?  How will they feel about the company?

Profits – What will be your total revenues, gross margin, and net profits?  What will your cash position be like?  When will your financials be ready, and what will you measure?

2. Mission/Mantra

Next, and importantly so, write your statement of what you will do on a day-to-day basis to accomplish your mission.  Otherwise known as a mantra, it is a statement or slogan which is repeated on a daily basis.  Typically this is a short statement 2-4 words in length which is meant to align your team to achieve your vision.

3. Core Values

The backbone: your Company’s core values drive your culture and in turn create your brand.  Your brand is truly your customers and prospects perceptions of your business and this perception is derived from their experience when not only see your marketing, but more importantly when they interact with your team over the phone or in person.  In fact the common problem we face is information overload.  Seeing an ad is not nearly as memorable as a face to face customer service experience when you can have your clients direct attention for 5 minutes or more.   Your core values are derived from the existing culture in your organization whether you like it or not.  If your culture is one of poor customer service, then one of your core values is a reflection of that.  To truly create change in the company it’s first important to understand where you are at, what matters most to you, and then create a set of new core values that change the way you do business.  What this means is you need to be able to hire, fire, conduct performance reviews, tell stories, promote, share, act, and ultimately live by your core values.  Only by living and breathing your desired core values will you be able to create a new desired culture.  Often all it takes is awareness. Start with this simple question: What does our culture mean to you?   Allow for free flowing feedback and don’t criticize any of the results.  Then ask yourself, what kind of culture do we want to create both personally and professionally and write them out in 5-10 clear statements or intentions.  For more information on culture and core values read this post.