Small business owners often run their companies and treat their employees like a family — which has cultural meaning. A successful small business 'family' has clear core principles and goals that directly impact growth. When we talk of a strong "corporate culture," that’s what we’re talking about, shared values, shared goals, and a single vision directed from the top.

If the culture fosters revenue generation that is repeatable under new ownership, the business is more valuable and will bring a higher price when it is time to sell.

According to a new Bain & Company 10-year study of more than 2,000 companies, there are five key principles that the most successful companies had in common. These principles help companies create a repeatable formula to stay focused on what really makes them profitable:
  • Principle #1—having a well-defined core to your business, and understanding how you have made it work for you
  • Principle #2—having up to 10 non-negotiable principles or beliefs about the business
  • Principle #3—having a strong bias to distributed leadership, which means having fewer layers of management and a larger percentage of decisions being taken on the front line
  • Principle #4—having a powerful, closed feedback loop system of information coming in from customers. This keeps the company attuned to the outside world
  • Principle #5—having a small number of key operating measures - known and believed at all levels—keeps the organization on track