How to Keep a Small Business Feel as You Grow

Pinnacle might not look like a typical small business from the outside, but that’s who we are at our core.

We got our start in 2000 as an urban community bank, which really just means we offer the service and attention of a small community bank with the resources and sophistication of a larger regional. That can be a tricky tightrope to walk, but the key has been creating a truly unique culture for associates. We treat our associates so well that they can’t help but be excited about coming to work and extending that enthusiasm to our clients.

At the same time, we can’t stagnate. We continue to challenge ourselves to improve and give more to the people we serve. In our business – and it’s probably true in yours, too – that means growth.

So now we face an even more narrow tightrope: How can we continue to meet and exceed our associates’ and clients’ expectations as we grow larger and expand into new markets?

As always, it’s the people. More specifically, it’s the people and the unchangeable core of the company that keeps us grounded even as we take on new challenges.

What is your unchangeable core? Are your people committed to it?

For us, it’s our:

  • Mission and vision
  • Values
  • Basis for competition
  • Hiring practices
  • “Win together, lose together” philosophy
  • Associate engagement

And as for whether our people are committed to it, you better believe it.

If you’ve read the “Keys to a Great Workplace” articles in our Learning Center, by now you understand how we create a top notch work environment.

Everything we do is built around service to both our associates and clients. We as leaders are deliberate about modeling these practices every day and instilling them in our teams. The way we treat each other leads to exceptional service for clients and a family feel even in a larger company. That doesn’t change just because we get bigger.

As we’ve added more markets and attracted many more clients, we have kept the personal touch and high level of service they expect from us. How do we do it? Even though we now have associates spread across the state of Tennessee, we still manage to make it feel like a family with fun outings, celebrations and recognitions. With some central planning help from headquarters, the local teams are able to set up and manage their own events and programs in their markets.

Clearly it’s working for us. As we’ve grown from 34 associates in Nashville to more than 1,200 statewide, we keep winning more and more awards for client service and workplace culture.

Think about your unchangeable core. If you’re not sure what it is, find it. It’s there, you just have to identify it and put it down on paper.

What are your values? What do you and your employees love about your company? What makes it successful, unique and valuable in the eyes of your clients?

That’s your unchangeable core. Every part of your business should be built around it, and it should be ingrained in every employee. It doesn’t live in a document or rhetoric or a regimented program. It lives in the heart of each and every team member. 

Change and growth are good. They are important and necessary, but it doesn’t mean you change who you are. If you and your team live out your values, it doesn’t matter if your revenue is counted in thousands or billions. You will continue to exceed the expectations of your clients and employees. You will maintain that special feeling of a small business. And you will be successful.

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