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How to Nurture a Firm-But-Flexible Company Culture Success requires a never-quit attitude and the capacity to recognize when it's smarter to do things differently.

By Cris Burnam Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


What will your company be when it is grown up? The answer to that all-important question resides in your culture.

A positive company culture that resonates throughout the entire organization isn't built overnight, but rest assured you can build it day by day. It will be time well spent. Your company's values and mission should be at the core of your operational functions. Strong culture is especially important in small entrepreneurial firms with big aspirations. When the company gets it right and every employee acts on it, that's when the company thrives.

Here's a look at the most important aspects of building company culture:

Flexibility and transparency.

Above all, don't dig yourself or your business into a hole that you can't get out of by establishing unrealistic cultural standards. Always be willing to change as your company grows.

It's important to be open about company finances, performance records and ideas in the works. Not all employees need access to every detail but every employee needs resources to empower their own actions. You team can't assist a course of action in a restrained information environment. For matters that relate to your customers' buying decisions, 100 percent transparency is necessary.

Related: 3 Ways to Create the Company Culture You Want

Constant consciousness.

If you don't focus on creating a certain kind of culture, it will quickly fade away. It takes focus to change a company's daily rituals, nuances and activities, but consistent awareness goes a long way. Equally important is the awareness that a change is taking place. That is vital for the eventual success of that shift. Employees are more likely to accept ideas when they know their benefits and can see them in action throughout the workday.


Well, firmness and flexibility are opposites, but they're both critical to the success of a culture overhaul or implementation. Changing direction often breeds confusion. Stick to your course of action unless clear evidence with a large sample size suggests it's not working.

Don't make culture appear whimsical. Any adjustments, course shifts or big events should be identified ahead of time and planned for. In the process of sticking to your guns, you will likely face challenges, including staff members who don't want the culture you're trying to achieve.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

Related: 10 Examples of Companies With Fantastic Cultures

Intelligent distribution of resources.

It should be a company mandate that all resources be reviewed and deployed according to each week's operational practices. Keep resources away from energy-sucking or time-draining areas; your human resources department will thank you. Channeling fuel into resource demands will strain workers less, freeing them from the disgruntlement that sometimes accompanies a shifting, expanding culture.

A balanced allocation of resources improves operational efficiency, increases company value and creates customer satisfaction. Include the redistribution of resources within your company culture plan. Through optimal allocation, your employees can better work together, which always leads to improved customer service capabilities.

A business culture is not to be left to chance. Be flexible, transparent, firm and intelligent about distributing resources to secure a successful cultural future for your company.

Related: What Leaders Can Learn From Black Churches About Keeping Team Members Engaged

Cris Burnam

President of StorageMart

Cris Burnam has been working in the self-storage industry since 1987. He has served as president of StorageMart since founding the company with his brother, Mike Burnam, in 1999. Burnam grew StorageMart from a single self-storage facility into the world’s largest privately owned self-storage company with 149 locations across the U.S. and Canada. Burnam was named a 2014 EY Entrepreneur of the Year in the Services and Real Estate category (Central Midwest region) -- one of the highest honors an American entrepreneur can receive.

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