Start with a Winning Culture


In the end, it’s the culture that matters. More and more people are coming to that realization in the business world, and it holds true in every context.

Culture trumps strategy and ability. In business, I’ll bet on a group of people who are working together and focused on moving as a team to solve their problems over the collection of all-star performers who are constantly undermining each other and fighting over different visions of the future.

Culture matters, whether you have 1, 10, or 100 employees (or more), because culture affects every person and everything that they do. It inspires creativity, and motivates individuals to act in the best interest of their teammates and the team as a whole, not just for themselves. Your culture should impact how leaders act, how employees interact with their peers, and how the company all together treats its customers.

I wasn’t surprised by the importance of culture in business, because I had seen it firsthand in the NFL. Teams win, individuals lose. An All-Pro team with a dysfunctional culture will not make it; it takes a group of people who love each other and are willing to do whatever it takes to help the team succeed. I had the good fortune to play on great teams that had a great culture, from the head coach to the last man on the roster. We played for each other, not for statistics and individual recognition. That’s how you win.

But culture is a complicated thing, and it’s not easy to implement. For one thing, it’s not enough to just say what the culture is and what the organization’s highest values are. You can’t dictate it from the top—but you can model that culture by your actions as a leader. You can’t order a culture overnight—but you can cultivate it over time by incorporating people who share your values and reinforcing the culture consistently with everyone on the team. But one bad apple can spoil the bunch, so bringing in people who don’t fit in with or believe in your culture, or allowing team members to get away with the wrong kind of behavior, can change a company’s culture in a negative way.

But just as culture is important in building a business, culture is also important for promoting entrepreneurship across the country. That’s where innovation and growth will come from. A culture that promotes, celebrates, and enhances entrepreneurship cannot come from the top down. It cannot be willed into being. It takes time, effort, and practical action. Leadership at the top matters, but it involves every single person.

We need a culture of entrepreneurship, a culture of people who tirelessly look for ways to solve problems and create value for others. We need a culture of people who want to take charge of their lives and find their mission. But that won’t come from Washington. It won’t come from your state capitol. It has to come from our own entrepreneurial spirit, and our support for other entrepreneurs, as millions of individuals working together to build and reinforce a positive culture.

I hope you’ll take an active part in that mission, and will encourage others to join in.

This article was originally published by AMAC SBS

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton

Fran Tarkenton is an entrepreneur and NFL Hall of Famer, and the founder of and Tarkenton Companies. With a passion for small business, he’s started more than 20 businesses during and after his NFL career. Fran is a small business coach for entrepreneurs and business owners, providing advice and guidance through sites such as,, and more. He has written about business issues in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. New and World Report, and USA Today, along with regular appearances on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. You can follow Fran on Twitter @Fran_Tarkenton.