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Is your business half empty or half full? It's really up to you!

The daily routine for a business owner or manager can become overwhelming. Putting-out fires, balancing finances, or resolving complaints can get the best of anyone. Nevertheless, owners and managers must remain optimistic and keep the business going in a positive direction regardless of what takes place on a specific day.

glasses of water

The responsibility for attitude, energy and enthusiasm within a business sits at the top. A self-supporting, positive environment is a result of the right culture strategy. Culture Strategy? Yup, Culture Strategy!

Culture within a business is a funny thing; it will form one way or another...with or without you. Whether the 'RIGHT' culture is created depends a lot on your focus and attention. Trust me. Culture doesn't change overnight, so it's much better to approach it in a proactive way with long-term goals than in an urgent reactive manner to drive immediate change.

Not sure where to start? Here's a couple of tangible focal points to consider. You might be surprised by the suggestions!


Business owners and managers should ask themselves the following question. "Is our business run effectively or efficiently?” There's a difference between the two. Being effective is accomplishing something such as an intended objective or goal. In other words, “We got the job done.” Being efficient, on the other hand, is performing the same task in the best possible manner, keeping wasted time and effort to a minimum which equates to bottom line profit. Effective gets the jobs done, but being efficient increases productivity. You'd be surprised how your valued employees abhor inefficiency also. It's draining to spend 3-hours on a task that could be done in 1-hour. Efficiency helps create an impactful company culture.

For a business to be really successful, efficiency is a key ingredient. So, if you’re a business owner, practice and promote being efficient rather than simply being effective. It's a win-win for the business.


Keeping a business focused is no easy endeavor. Efficient, lasting results can't be achieved by taking action on one objective today only to ignore the same item for another objective tomorrow.

Day-to-day follow-through is a must in any business. We all know that real emergencies happen, but it's also easy to get sidetracked when a new issue or opportunity present itself. Do your employees often joke, "What's today's #1 priority?", or "That's #1 priority number ten."

Failure to properly plan, act, and follow-through can lead to problems with customers, employees, suppliers, vendors, lenders, and investors. A lack of consistency can cause problems in practically any area of a business as nothing really gets done...or done on time. When follow-through and consistency are treated with importance, productivity ultimately increases and employees feel good about their work and contribution.

Customer focus...all the time

Small customer issues can easily escalate into big problems in any business. While little things might seem trivial to a business owner, those same issues can be quite important to customers, employees, and others involved with a business. Owners and managers can become so focused on an internal aspect of their business that they lose sight of the big picture. When tunnel vision develops, that tunnel can lead to a head-on collision with a train (customer loss.)

Try to mentally change places with the customer or employee and ask yourself a few simple questions:

What would I like about my business if I were a customer/employee?

What would I dislike about my business if I were a customer/employee?

What would make me go to the competition if I were a customer/employee?

If I was going to start this business over tomorrow, what would I do differently?

Business owners need to make sure they see what customers and employees see and feel.


Every business should operate within the confines of processes and/or procedures. If each activity is handled the same way every time, then optimum performance and efficiency can be achieved. The processes and procedures should be written, followed, reviewed, and revised. Every employee, regardless of whom is performing a particular task, should perform it the same way every time. This standardization leads to operational efficiency and is excellent for training new employees and cross-training current employees. Also, employees feel empowered when the know how to get things done and customers appreciate the dependability of the product/services provided.


Owners must set examples for employees to follow. Period.

A leader's strong work ethics, high moral standards, and focused discipline demonstrate expected company behavior. Owners can't act one way but demand employees act another way. “Do as I say, not as I do” is not a motto that motivates employees. Attitude and culture improve collectively from the top down when strong, ethical leadership is demonstrated.

Final Word

As business strategy advisor across many different industries, we've experienced a fair share of company cultures. Some worked well and others did not. We frequently talk with our clients about the competitive advantages of company culture. Competitive differentiation doesn't always rely on a market study or a spreadsheet....sometimes it begins with that 'secret sauce' that'll never be available as an excel macro. Every business is different. Likewise, every culture can be driven in either a positive or negative direction. It’s up to owners and managers to set the direction by proactively influencing their business culture. A positive direction achieves greater results; therefore, a business energized today will see positive results tomorrow.

OnTarget Strategy is a business strategy, operations, and marketing consultancy based in Boulder, CO. The OnTarget Strategy team works with small and medium-sized organizations looking to improve operational outcomes and results. You can contact them at or their website.

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