24 Feb 3 Ways to Create a Culture of Ownership Inside Your Business
There are a lot of factors that determine a company’s value. Arguably, the most important is the answer to the question “how would my business perform without me?”.
You need your employees to make an owner-like effort every day for your company to thrive when you’re not around. The best way to do this is to create a vibrant culture of ownership inside your business.
Three ways to get your employees to care as much as you do:
1. Cast Your Employees as the Stars of a “David vs. Goliath” Movie
In 2008 Gavin Hammar started Sendible, a platform that allows companies to manage all their social media accounts from one place. Sendible grew steadily until 2016, when a large competitor entered the space, resulting in a sales plateau. Hammar gathered his employees and explained the challenge they were facing.
Instead of sugarcoating the issue, Hammar encouraged his team to think of themselves as underdogs in an “us-against-the-world” battle. Hammar then went to work positioning his company as a smaller, more personal option. He started a podcast, shared photos of his employees online, and answered customer questions via asynchronous video, and sent personalized LinkedIn messages to every new customer.
With an enemy to battle every day, Hammar’s employees followed his example and gave extra effort to humanize themselves and the company. As a result, Sendible started to grow again. By 2021 the company was flourishing, which is when Hammar accepted a lucrative acquisition offer from ASG.
2. Provide Perks Others Can’t or Won’t
Another way to create a thriving culture is to offer perks your competitors can’t or won’t. Natalie and Chris Nagele are the power team behind the software as a service (SaaS) company Postmark. Unlike most hard-driving software executives, the Nageles were committed to creating a great place to work.
Rather than take on outside investment and the corresponding pressures of demanding investors, the couple decided to self-fund their business. Obsessed with helping her employees do more meaningful work, Natalie began researching ways to inspire her staff. She came across data from the Henley Business School suggesting that implementing a four-day workweek created a healthier workplace culture.
Inspired by Natalie’s findings, the Nageles considered implementing a four-day workweek. They didn’t need the permission of their board or outside investors, because the couple owned the company outright. After a short discussion, the couple decided to try it.
Transitioning to a three-day weekend created a culture in which their employees enjoyed working, resulting in consistent growth for Postmark until 2022, when the Nageles sold the company in a life-changing exit.
3. Gamify Your Business
You can also inspire your employees to give owner-like effort by gamifying your business. Josh Davis founded the freight brokering company Speedee Transport. Brokering freight is all about gross margin – the difference between what you charge the customer and how much it costs to hire a driver to move the stuff.
Rather than simply telling his employees to focus on gross margin, Davis made a game of it. He created quoting software with a virtual gross margin scoreboard for his employees.
The software gave each employee a very public, objective, and transparent scoreboard they could follow to determine whether they won or lost that day. Davis then tied his employees’ compensation to gross margin, which created a healthy competitive culture within the company.
After gamifying his business, the company saw tremendous growth. Within two years, Speedee Transport grew from two to forty-five employees. This rapid expansion caught the attention of an acquirer, who offered to purchase Speedee Transport for a truckload in 2019.
One of the secrets to building a valuable company is to get your employees to work as hard as you do. Owner-like effort comes from making your people feel like part of a shared mission and giving them a working environment that brings out the best in them.