By Emily Suess

The company culture at your small business is important, and it’s about so much more than whether or not you offer free snacks in the break room or buy your employees a free lunch every now and then.

The culture within your business is created through a combination of things. It’s comprised of your values, mission, daily operations, habits, ethics, and beliefs. One of the benefits small business owners have over CEOs of major corporations is that it’s much easier to direct company culture and shape it for the better when your business is still small. Here’s how to do it.

1. Write Down Your Mission

Writing a mission statement is a way for you to document your company’s values and long-term vision. Don’t be afraid to dream big; your mission statement is the perfect place to remind yourself and your team that you’re all working toward a common goal. Your mission sets the tone for everything else you do.

2. Hire the Best People

Without a doubt, your people are your best (or worst) example of your business’s culture. When you hire new employees, don’t forget that attitude is as important as skill, if not more so. Many skills can be acquired through training and mentorship. Always be willing to train the right person.

3. Communicate Honestly with Your Employees

Whether times are good or bad, keep your employees in the loop. Consistent, straightforward communication shows you trust your staff to carry out your mission under all circumstances.

4. Express Company Culture in Your Physical Surroundings

If you work with a positive, upbeat team, drab surroundings and lack of natural light will drag them down. Do what you can to make your workspaces work — make them ergonomic, keep colors cheerful, and let in as much natural light as possible.

5. Grow with Your Company

You know you’re in trouble if anyone in your company says, “But this is the way we’ve always done it.” Be prepared to try new things, and be prepared for some of the things you try to fail. It’s the only way you’ll grow.

6. Make Cultural Goals

Sales goals are good. So are cultural goals. Assign tasks to your employees that make them responsible for maintaining and improving a positive culture. Every employee should be invested in seeing a positive company culture thrive at work.

7. Do Something Fun

We said earlier that free snacks and free lunch are only a part of your culture—but they are a part! Whether you have a quarterly pizza party or celebrate accomplishments together over a round of miniature golf, take some time to have fun as a team.

8. Be Your Own Culture Advocate

As a small business owner, you’re responsible for shaping company culture from the very beginning. Keep it a priority and take ownership of any problems that might creep up from time to time.

With focus and dedication, you can ensure that the culture in your small business remains positive and productive. Make it a priority from day one.