Your Best Ingredient for Success is your culture!

Cody Caillet
Nov 27, 2019 · 6 min read
Photo by Miguel Andrade on Unsplash

It is no secret to many successful business owners how critical culture is to the long-term success of your company. Short-term success can simply be had by riding the latest wave or trend, but more often than not, to have long-term success requires creating a specific environment that will enable you to succeed.

Everything you do as an owner or a leadership team is enforcing your culture. Every conversation you have, every decision you make, every project you complete. It’s not a matter of whether or not something is impacting your culture, it’s just a matter of if those actions are acting in a positive or negative light.

This is not something I completely understood earlier in my career. Sure, I read all the books and blogs about culture, even would have told you how much I agreed, but I never really understand how important it was until we started Gulf Coast Solutions. Now, 7 successful years later, I am able to reflect on what really makes us unique and special, and why we have so much repeat and referral business.

Sure we create great software solutions and we have found a great niche in delivering solutions based on business, not technology, and I’m sure that has played a large part in our bottom line.

But I’ve learned that the fossils of success are not something that can be visible from the surface of P&L statements. You have to dig a bit to get to the good stuff and deep down, beneath the sand, lies a layer of culture that truly is the difference.

Unfortunately, culture has become a word synonymous with fancy coffee stations, ping-pong tables, and in-house massage tables. In reality, none of this crap makes a dime's worth of difference. Those same leaders who think a kegerator will help with the employee experience are the same ones who think that an extra $1/hr will increase employee loyalty.

Photo by Piotr Miazga on Unsplash

It’s deeper than that, or it should be. For us, it is a driver, an enabler, a hidden ingredient to the pot of GCS gumbo. It’s our compass that keeps us pointed in the right direction. Its remnants can be found in our customer relationships, employee development, and even in the mundane day to day accounting activities.

The culture we create with our customers is really the driving force on why they return, and why they recommend us even to their direct competition. There are hundreds of enterprise software developers and integrators, many advertising cheaper rates, but it’s that special relationship we have, built on trust, that creates the culture to keep them loyal.

That customer culture is only possible with our true commitment to fostering the best employee environment we can. In a service-based company, you are only as good as your people and no matter what you do, those people will become the culture that your customers, vendors, and business partners see.

So, how do you create (or fix) your culture? It’s actually easier than you think.

First, focus on your employees' success and growth. If there is one thing I’ve learned in the last decade-plus of leading teams and companies, is that any effort you spend in making sure your employees thrive is worth it. This goes further than adding a ping-pong table or free beer in the fridge, it means doing things like

  • Putting this in positions to succeed. If there is one thing you take away from this article, this should be it. Putting the right people in the right seats is not only smart for your culture, but it’s also smart for your bottom line. If you have someone in a place that they are not able to succeed in, you shouldn’t be surprised when they don’t deliver.

Second, make an intentional effort to talk about your culture with your customers. This article won’t try to get into the marketing or social media posting (I’m not qualified for such advice) but just like being successful in creativity and life, you can’t just wish culture to be, you have to intentionally design it into success.

  • Be authentic. Customers now have more options than ever before and authenticity is what will separate yourself. After all, there is no better way to create a great culture with your customers than to simply be yourself.

Finally, take time to reflect often and think long term. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be hard to really evaluate your actions and the impact they are having. Even if you do have the time, I’m often reminded of a quote

“ We are very good lawyers for our own mistakes, and very good judges for the mistakes of others” — Author unknown

Quick tips I’ve learned to help me stay on the right track.

  • Read, a lot. I find reading to be the best way to get other viewpoints to challenge your own, which can both alter your thinking or help you reinforce your beliefs.

Culture is not something that can be created unless it’s authentic, with follow-through. It must be present when things are going bad just as often as when they are going good. It’s even okay that it can’t be explained easily on a mission statement because many times those are boilerplate anyways.

Our culture at GCS is hard to put into words but it’s there.

It pulls us just as we push it.

It’s the reason we are where we are today, and it will be the deciding factor on where we go from here.

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Cody Caillet

Written by

Creator. Writer. Co-Founder of Gulf Coast Solutions. https://shakethebull.substack.com

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +787K followers.

Cody Caillet

Written by

Creator. Writer. Co-Founder of Gulf Coast Solutions. https://shakethebull.substack.com

The Startup

Get smarter at building your thing. Follow to join The Startup’s +8 million monthly readers & +787K followers.

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