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5 Inexpensive Ways to Create a Company Culture Like Google’s

Here are five of our secrets to a fun culture that builds camaraderie.

Will Housh

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As big name companies have illustrated, it’s possible to run a successful business while still having fun. Google, for example, is the poster child of a unique company culture, with its nap pods and free food for employees.

While the company invests millions of dollars a year into offices and culture, it’s possible for smaller companies to create a unique company culture as well. At my company, HVAC.com, we do our best to create a fun office culture without spending a fortune.

Related: How to Intentionally Build Your Company Culture (Rather Than Leave It to Chance)

1. Create fun office challengesGoogle-Internship-Qudditch

Anyone who’s seen the movie The Internship knows Google uses office competitions to motivate its employees. Not only can small companies do this as well, they can also incorporate other office challenges to create a fun workplace culture.

Our office does a lot of fun challenges that get team members involved and provide a break from the workday. We have an annual chili cook-off competition, ping pong matches, foosball tournaments and kickball in the parking lot. We also participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

These ideas are mostly free and fun to do. Organisations can also offer a small reward for the winners, such as a gift card to a local restaurant. Personalise it to the office and the staff and get everyone involved.

2. Get moving

More than half of workers feel like they’re overweight, according to CareerBuilder. Google offers gyms and swimming pools, and while most companies may not have the resources to do that, they can definitely incorporate fitness into the workplace.

At HVAC.com, we recently had a push-up challenge. It was a personal challenge to gradually improve everyone’s personal best where we encouraged each other to do better.

Over the course of 30 days, we gradually worked our way up to doing 50 push ups. It was a fun, friendly way to incorporate fitness into the day and it got the whole office involved. In fact, it worked so well that we did a sit-up challenge next!

Related: How Crabby Bosses Ruin Company Culture

Fitness activities can be a fun way to break up the day and get employees moving. Think about incorporating a “Biggest Loser”-style competition, or consider utilising walking meetings to be both productive and active. It doesn’t have to cost a dime – get creative and have fun with it!

3. Celebrate special occasions in unique waysGoogle-Android-and-doughnut

Google recently gave one employee a week off for his birthday after his young daughter wrote a letter to the company requesting it. Smaller companies can do things to celebrate special occasions, too. Making employees feel appreciated goes a long ways toward creating a positive company culture.

We once celebrated an employee’s birthday by making sushi rolls for lunch. We carved pumpkins for an autumn celebration. We toasted with champagne to celebrate a key milestone.

Think about making a calendar with everyone’s birthday or having a monthly celebration. Or give everyone an afternoon off to just say thank you.

4. Make time for fun

Google has proven success doesn’t have to be all work and no play. The company has a slide, a billiards room, and other fun things employees can take advantage of when they need a break. While every office doesn’t necessarily need a slide, making time for fun is an easy and free way to create a great company culture.

HVAC.com employees once filled my office with balloons for my birthday. Our team also took a morning to have an ugly sweater day photo shoot.

It doesn’t have to cost money or take a lot of time, but it’s important to set aside a little time for fun. Employees will relax and the office will have a good atmosphere. Just remember to keep it light and harmless to avoid losing too much time and productivity.

5. (Occasionally) get out of the officeGoogle-office

Google employees take ski trips and go on summer picnics, and while these aren’t things a company can do every week, getting out of the office is good to give employees a break and help keep motivation levels up.

Our employees go on international mission trips and spend time volunteering with local charities every year. We hosted a summer cookout and invited the local fire and police department to show our appreciation. We took a marketing field trip to a sign museum.

Getting out of the office every so often can help employees feel refreshed and excited about work. It provides a small break so they can come back with increased focus and productivity.

The culture of an organisation is increasingly important. Creating this unique culture doesn’t have to cost thousands, and can affect how team members interact with each other, build stronger relationships and, ideally, increase productivity.

Related: The Powerful Influence of Negative Speech on Company Culture

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Will Housh is the founder and CEO of HVAC.com, one of the fastest growing privately held businesses in America three years in a row.

Increase Profitability

What To Look Out For When Seeking A Mentor Or Coach

There is value in choosing a mentor or coach to help you build your business, says Dr John Demartini. Here he offers some sound advice on how to go about doing this so that you benefit from the experience.

Dr John Demartini

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When I was in practice I noticed many doctors attempting to build a business would seek out mentorship from management consultants, from people who have already been down that path. And there’s wisdom from learning from foresight and not learning from trial and error. But there’s a pitfall – I noticed that not everybody is able to do or sustain the actions that these consultants would suggest. Where some would follow and immediately go and succeed, there were others who would sometimes feel self defeated because they couldn’t sustain the actions that the consultants would suggest and recommend.

So a small percentage would excel and do extremely well. But there were those who would spend their money on the coaching and they’d never get anything in return.  So the question is – what made the few excel with the help of a coach, consultant or mentor? And why is it that the majority of them didn’t do as well? And it boils down to how congruent the actions of the coach or consultant are with the values of the person that’s striving to build a business.

I have listened to numerous professional consultants all offering slightly different information about how to build a business. I have taken and learned from all of them. Some of them would suggest things I just couldn’t do – it just wasn’t me – and other things that I could do. And when I couldn’t do something, the coaches and consultants believed I just was not disciplined, not driven. They would imply that I didn’t have the drive… Their material works, but I wasn’t following it.

And those of you who have had the same experience will understand what I’m saying. And you need to know that the reason you don’t do what these coaches suggest is because it’s not aligning to your values. So you are labeled lazy, undisciplined, not driven. You are given these labels instead of realising that you’re self defeating because what they suggest is not congruent with your values. And so you go to different consultants until you finally find the one who matches, whose values are aligned with yours.

So it’s important to not envy and imitate somebody with a drastically different set of values. If you’re seeking a coach or mentor, make sure the coach/mentor has a value system that is closely enough aligned to yours or you will be setting yourself up to fail. Just because somebody is successful doesn’t mean if they are your coach or mentor that they will have the values that will lead you to that same form of success. You need to either shift your values to be able to succeed in their system or you need to find the mentor that aligns more with your values. Otherwise you’ll be beating yourself up thinking there’s something wrong with you when there’s nothing wrong with you. When you find the right mentor, you will take off.

So you either have to change your values to match the objectives of the coach, or change the coach to match the truth of your own values.

So the bottom line is, if you’re going to get mentorship, coaching or consulting from somebody, don’t just select the person because they’re successful. Select them because they’re successful and they have some alignment with your mission and your values. Make sure you select your mentorship and a consultant that is truly valuable to you; don’t live in a fantasy about who you are.

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Increase Profitability

The Link Between Scaling, Relationship Building And Technology

It is the first solution of its kind in South Africa, this platform supports entrepreneurs to effectively establish legal foundations in their businesses for optimum growth and overall business success.

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw

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The challenges and opportunities of this new world and that the world is more connected than ever. The constraints of distance is no longer applicable and as a result business has little constraining borders. Networking is therefore still a component in key relationship building.

It brings me to my real point – in a world so busy and connected, what we cannot make more of is time and time, unlike any other commodity is invaluable when it comes to forging important relationships and sustaining them. So, if technology can break barriers when it comes to legal cost and time spent on it… why not? Especially when so many have experienced the consequences of not documenting the most important relationships in their business.

The SchoemanLaw SME Self- Service DeskTM is the ideal tool for any member-based organisation wanting to capacitate and empower members. It is an affordable and reliable online solution for start-ups and SMEs, where Users can customise and download their own contracts online and in minutes. It is the first solution of its kind in South Africa, this platform supports entrepreneurs to effectively establish legal foundations in their businesses for optimum growth and overall business success.

The following documents are examples of those available on the platform (currently hosting over 35 documents / agreement types):

  • Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreement (“NDA”)
  • Independent Contractor Agreement
  • JV Agreement
  • MOI and Shareholder’s Agreement
  • T&C’s
  • Supplier Agreement
  • Letter Demanding Payment
  • Various HR Documents and Company Resolutions
  • BBBEE Affidavits (EME and generic QSE)

and many more!

Prices range from R195 and R895 per document if downloaded on a pay- as- you- need- basis or R249 / R495 per month on a subscription basis, this is over 75% less than usual rates if traditionally drafted by an Attorney. What is more, Users have the support of a Law Firm not only having created, but who maintains the platform and supports each User. We even offer customisable solutions. So, there support and a solution for any business regardless of size and industry are on offer.

The platform is easy to use, no prior legal training is required, and Users are supported through help texts, free podcasts, videos and training events. In the case of a legal incident occurring, you can consult with an attorney with the click of a button.

The platform is also ever evolving and completely customer- driven.  Documents are added as and when customers request them. All the documents are also frequently updated to ensure that they align to the latest best practice. There is no need to leave your legal needs unattended ever again!  The SchoemanLaw SME Self- Service DeskTM  therefore ensures that SMEs are no longer invisible and capacitates them to free up time needed to build relationships, grow and scale their businesses.

Empower your business today, go to: https://www.schoemanlaw.co.za/online-legal-services/

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5 Winning Ways To Strengthen Your Bottom Line This Year

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of your profitability.

Revel Africa

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The beginning of the year is upon us, and the question everyone is asking is, “How are we going to make this year more profitable than 2018?” Break away sessions to strategies are always good, however, the most effective organisations know that the best ideas didn’t come from high-level planning, rather, they come from the field.

1. Your winning market

The saying goes, ‘The riches are in the niches.’ This year, stop spreading your sales focus thinly across several markets. Review your data on the which niche or subgroup of buyers make up your best customers. Then laser focus your best sales efforts and talent on these prospects this year. If you don’t have data on your buyers, then make a commitment to invest in your CRM software this year, so that next year your focus can be accurate.

Related: How Excellent Customer Service Affects Your Business’ Bottom Line

2. Your winning product or service

Don’t let chance dictate which sale you focus on, rather identify which of your products or services has the highest margins. Your data will tell you which products or services you should focus your sales efforts on this year, and which you should phase out, or simply terminate immediately.

3. Win more customers

You have a big budget for your lead generation, but invest more this year on optimising your lead conversion rate. No matter what industry you are in, or if you convert leads digitally or face to face, your ability to turn leads into sales is a potent leverage point to increase profits. For example, if you increase your conversion from 20% to 25%, that 5% increase in conversion will lead to a 20% or more increase in profitability (assuming your costs stay steady.)

Consider a sales coach to refresh your sales team’s conversion strategy, or review your digital data, landing pages, and automation strategy with a reputable digital marketing agency.

4. Whittle down waste

One immediate way to see your bottom line improve this year is to keep a tight rein on your sales team giving out discounts and freebies, and on your production team’s unregulated wastage. You’ll be surprised when you add it all up how much profit you’ve lost this way. Set boundaries over what is and isn’t okay for your sales team to do during the sales cycle.

Rather create bonuses or value adds that they can add in that have high perceived value but low cost of goods sold. For example, you might offer two free training classes to a new customer when they buy a year’s subscription to your software service.

A training class has a high value, but likely costs very little to add more seats to the room. As far as your production team goes, if you haven’t already, you should invest in business software that tracks productivity in your team, as well as in your machinery and equipment, to improve efficiency and reduce wastage. This alone is worth the investment costs of the software.

Related: Strong Company Culture Fattens The Bottom Line

5. Say ‘No’ to scope creep

Scope creep is when your customer alters the scope of your product or service after the initial agreement of work has been signed off, but with no alteration to the initial quote.  It is excessively common and can be very detrimental to a bottom line in service businesses.

This year, be clear about what is and isn’t on offer in the quote, and if there are any adjustments down the road, inform the client upfront of these additional costs. Wait for approval before starting the work. Be clear about prices for common extras that clients may want and let them know you’d be happy to provide these additional items for them at these pre-agreed prices. This could also be an opportunity for gentle upselling.

With this in mind, may 2019 see your bottom line grow from strength to strength.

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