The values you start with when you are just two people working out of an apartment are difficult to maintain as you scale to 120+ full-time employees.
But by clearly stating your company’s purpose and values frequently—and with passion—and by genuinely using these values as a lens by which all decisions are made, you will ensure that your clients stay committed to you, you will consistently land challenging and engaging accounts that are aligned with your values, and you will be able to attract and retain the best possible talent.
Here’s how you can foster a culture of "doing good" and collaboration among clients, staff, and partners.
Some of our largest and most successful accounts started with a small project that had no impact on our bottom line. We qualified these accounts because we saw deep alignment with their mission. Potential clients should be evaluated based on their fit with your portfolio, your values, and what the long-term value proposition looks like. Don’t be afraid to be selective and patient if an account does not grow the bottom line in the first quarter or first year.
We purposely chose to work with clients that are mission-driven organizations that work to effect change on a global scale. We’ve found the best way to meet their creative and technical challenges is to be as committed and invested in the mission as they are. Invest time in understanding who they are, what makes them tick, and where their needs lie.
When we genuinely adopt our clients’ missions as our own we are able to motivate employees in a way that allows us to craft solutions that have real, measurable impact that delight our clients and their audience. This is the most effective way for us to bring significant value to our clients, take their mission further, and attract and retain the most dedicated, passionate, and talented staff.
Ensuring your clients feel that you are a true, long-term partner in their business is a key early differentiator and remains a pillar of business success.
In practical terms this means being highly responsive, providing white-glove service, and always asking yourself "what more can we bring to this relationship and how can we provide more value?" Focus on close collaboration and clear, honest communication with clients in order to secure mutual trust and you will have a client for life.
You can also build a lasting relationship with your team by investing in your employees. You can do this in several ways:
- Support them with creative and meaningful opportunities that allow them to have an impact.
- Offer competitive compensation, modern infrastructure and tools, and an atmosphere that fosters career progress and change.
- Be genuinely vested in your employees’ growth—commit to their training, learning, and career growth by opening up vertical and lateral opportunities throughout the company.
- Provide opportunities and programs that encourage employees to volunteer and offer corporate benefits for their efforts. For example, our employees are provided with paid time to volunteer at local community cleanups, educational meetups, charity walks, and other similar events.
Organizations have an obligation to invest not only in themselves, but also in their larger community. With that aim, when developing vendor relationships, make sure to look at local companies first. Devote time and resources to local charities and organizations. Investing time and resources in impactful community projects will go a long way in helping your employees feel more connected to the community and your company.
As your company grows, scaling the culture to meet the growing expectations of staff becomes a challenge, but it should remain a primary focus of leadership. If you get this right, your company will attract the best accounts and most creative, passionate, and loyal job seekers.
—Mark Gregor is CEO of Velir, a digital experience agency specializing in helping non-profits, associations and foundations to increase their effectiveness through personalized web design.
[Image: Flickr user Jeff Kubina]