A great small business culture comes down to one thing: people. You define your values and mission but ultimately it’s up to your team to live by them. It starts with having a cohesive team that is willing to trade ideas and praise. Entrepreneurs are great at connecting their people because they know that their business was built on sharing ideas. Here are a few tips on how to create a better team and stronger culture for your small business:

Innovative Minds

It is crucial to create a culture that empowers everyone in your organization to be innovative and passionate about their job. Some of the best employees a business can have are ones who feel a part of the business, Think of Google, for example, a great example of a business built on the ideas of their employees. Their employees go to work wanting to work because they feel passion for what they do because Google’s actions showed them that their ideas matter. Hold events where employees get to pitch ideas for better products for the business or ways to streamline your business process. This helps you build a culture of collective ideas where employees feel their ideas matter, therefore feel the business cares about them.

Team Calendar

One of the best ideas that I have found for creating a culture around empowering employees is having your team be part of a calendar of events that are focused on them. A calendar that employees can view ranging from team meetings to employee birthdays to challenges. Employees are able to suggest new activities in a shared document and feel a part of a team within your business. Putting events on a calendar leads to better communication and transparency. Events do not always have to be on the “company dollar” as there are many cheap, or free ideas that are get together’s that are events, activities, lunches, and more. It is all about being together to build a good team that enjoys what they do.

Scheduled Time Off

Setting up a time that employees can use to rest, nap, or take a break from their day to help them stay focused, happy, and with the great mindset. Speaking of Google again, Google has a relaxation and nap area for their employees to go and rest or take their mind off their work, this is not about getting out of work but staying in the best mood. We all know a better mood, a better job. This will help an already gritty employee be more hardworking, creative, and happy when they get back to work.

Education Materials or Books

Telling our employees to learn or having boring training meetings is not the best way to get them to learn more. Many times you can ask an employee who just left the meeting what they learned and if they told you the truth, they would say they learned their day was going to long because they went to a pointless meeting an a hour or two. Stay focused on empowering your employees to learn by signing up for an educational e-book app, providing copies of educational materials that is not just interesting for employees at work but speaks of how to use the resources in life, or provide a library of a few different books written by innovative, public speakers that are focused on subjects that matter to areas of your business or the product area you sell. It is amazing where you get when you get your employees focused on not just learning for the company but themselves. Have problems getting your employees to take part? Have a contest or a mini book club that you provide your employees with a copy of the book to read and you have a get together over lunch to talk about the book every week or so with all the employees (as a group setting, not a lecture done by you).Have a technology free, pencil and paper only meeting with your team. Sit at a table, or site on the floor and make it like a camp meeting. Talk about ideas that employees have to better work areas of the business. It is amazing what your employees notice that they do not say a word about. Many employees have several awesome ideas that they never share because they feel you will not listen, ever implement, or it is not their job to do. Make it their job by empowering them. Pick the idea that everyone agrees should begin now and try to implement. Test the waters with it then set-up for another brainstorming meeting to speak about how it went, what is working or not working, and what other ideas the team has. It is amazing how over time you get some great ideas out of employees that you thought never had the potential. Stay focused on not being a “boss” at the meetings to keep the environment even more relaxed and open.

Relax, Employees Are Not You

As small business owners, we are passionate about what we do. Sometimes we forget and lack a relaxed feeling when communicating with employees and freelancers. As a consultant, I have seen this many times. You’re stressed and worry comes out in a way that makes the person on the phone or in front of you feel they are doing everything wrong, no matter what words you are saying. As small business owners, we get used to working for ourselves, by ourselves. When we start to add freelancers or employees, we try to keep the same control even though these people are not us. Stay relaxed, remember that it is ok to give control to others. That if you empower your employees then they will do a good job, whether you are watching or not. You can’t do everything on your own, so remember not to treat employees different or negative if they don’t do everything the way you would. It is not always a bad thing to have employees do things a little different than you. Small business owners get into business to work for themselves, make money, and sell a product or service they love. You did not get into the business because you are an expert in all things small business. You only have experience with your small business, so open your mind to the ideas that others bring to the table and try to implement or try temporarily ones. You might be surprised. It is amazing how well your business and life goes by letting some control go.