Is Your Startup Culture a Driver of Success?

When looking at what makes or breaks a startup, there are specifics for each environment. Many researchers and successful CEOs have isolated one variable that is responsible for the future of any startup. That variable is culture.

That’s right. Startup culture isn’t just beanbags and coffee. A workplace culture connects multiple factors, and these connections determine the kind of culture a startup has.

In a Nutshell, Why Is Startup Culture Important?

It’s difficult for a young company to define their culture, or even acknowledge one, much less work on it. While this might not have debilitating effects on a short-term basis, ignoring the importance of a motivating culture at the workplace can prove detrimental in the long run.

Dave Shah, the CEO of Wve Labs, credits the fostering of creativity in an organization to successful company culture. If approached correctly, a startup’s culture can mean the difference between longevity and fleeting success.

Startup culture is mostly an internal affair. This means that it can be fixed to incorporate healthy and encouraging workplace habits. Here are some cultural factors that make a startup successful.

1. Encouragement

Encouraging your employees when they are trying to push themselves is an excellent motivator, and it helps build a sense of camaraderie. Offer encouragement and motivation both individually and collectively. It can take the shape of grants, bonuses, or simply even verbal praise.

Understanding and support are the building blocks for any long-term relationship, and they demand communication between respective parties. They also reflect the ethics of a workplace, which indicates how clients and employees are handled within an organization. This is a common facet of workplace culture within a startup, and it’s something that corporations can learn from startups.

Patagonia, Adobe, and Samsung – some of the world’s most successful companies – depend on a carefully instituted culture that fosters creative thinking and action through encouragement.

2. The Big Picture

After getting a big break, most startups forget what motivated them in the first place. It’s essential to regularly remind the entire team of where the startup is headed and what it aims to achieve in the long term. Team leaders can do this through verbal reminders at meetings and visual reminders in offices and communal areas. Everyone loves a good motivational speech, right?

Before taking a big leap, it’s best to establish the overarching goal from the start in order to take control of workplace norms and values. If your vision and your employees’ vision are not aligned, you’re going to run into some serious problems along the line. Stay on the same page.

That’s why it’s important to reiterate your mission and vision at all employee levels. They are all working towards the same end goal, and so, individuals who spend hours on projects need reminders too.

Keeping the proverbial eye on the prize is what every successful startup has in common. While there are some instances of companies succeeding by keeping their goals small and attainable without thinking too far ahead, it’s much more likely that long-term planning and vision will aid in your success.

3. Professionalism & Protection

Views on professionalism in the workplace might vary from startup to startup. Either way, a healthy environment will demand a well-defined degree of professionalism, ensuring that all employees feel comfortable enough to work freely.

That’s why employees need to fully understand boundaries and ground rules that should not be crossed. Add a clause in the contract that reflects this. While it’s nice to think that your colleagues are just as respectful as you are, it’s not always the case. For startup leaders as well as employees, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Getting an office environment right can be tough, but it’s not impossible. One way to do this is to look at some of the world’s most successful companies and their workplace ethics and rules. Lastly, there’s nothing wrong with having a cordial and friendly attitude with your employees. It helps foster a more open-minded and creative environment.

4. Retain & Acquire Talent

For a startup that’s just beginning to “find its legs,” retaining previous hires can be the difference between a good idea that launches a successful campaign or a bad one that puts a dent in financial resources. Since the climate of a startup isn’t always easy to predict, going out and listening to a fresh approach really helps.

Remember that startups need innovation. Having people to rely on for new perspectives on old problems can bring about some of the best solutions. It can be expensive to provide the necessary training for new employees as well as old ones, so leaders want to make it a worthwhile investment. Nurturing a growth mindset at work is even more crucial for boosting creativity, morale, and earnings.

5. Flexibility

The best startup cultures are those that incorporate habits that can be easily replicated across the globe. This versatility comes into play when a startup begins to expand, but it also does wonders while a company is working on its foundation.

For example, Zenefits (a startup that provides health insurance online) and Netflix took two very different approaches to flexibility. Where Netflix instituted a more dynamic attitude in the workplace, promoting healthy relationships with its employees, Zenefits was careless and bold in ways that debilitate a growing startup. Netflix, according to Professor Jay Rao, was much more focused on cultivating a flexible and accommodating atmosphere, which brought it long-term success.

To summarize, startup cultures need to be adaptable enough to thrive even when the climate changes. It’s best to focus on flexibility early on to set a company up for success.

6. Transparency

Keeping employees up to date on all essential matters related to your company’s future is a healthy practice. This keeps everyone goal-oriented and fosters a culture of trust. In fact, it’s one of the reasons millennials prefer to work in startups over corporations.

This practice will instill better communication, especially if it comes from the very top. It will encourage employees to share and trust, creating a space where everyone can speak comfortably. Moreover, it will instill in each employee a sense of responsibility and emphasize working toward a common goal instead of focusing on workplace hierarchy.

If a startup culture is dedicated to being honest with its employees, it will have a trickle-down effect. This is true for all healthy practices that come from the top within any organization.

7. Branding

As your startup begins to spread its roots, having a memorable brand image is vital for further success. Interestingly enough, it is the culture of a startup that largely determines its external image.

For example, an easygoing and welcoming attitude with clients will inspire reciprocal feelings, and hence, a relationship is created. These relationships are pivotal for branding, so a startup should be thinking about how to strengthen its culture in order for it to outshine its competitors.

If an organization is able to create a culture that effectively supports its goals, it will be successful in attracting attention.

8. Understanding Other Cultures

In today’s world, where social media is king, we’re all witness to a diverse mix of cultures and practices. Social media users are the consumers of a startup’s services and products, so for it to succeed, it’s necessary to study and understand these cultures.

This awareness, if harnessed and utilized correctly, will give startups an advantage over their competitors because cultures are powerful influencers. If an organization can align its culture with that of its clients, it can set itself up for growth.

9. Passion

This makes up the substance of any creative work. All good ideas start with some sort of motivation, so the best ideas will come from a person passionate enough to present them. Startups need to acknowledge the concept of passion in the workplace and inspire their employees to seek it.

In other words, no company can afford to just focus on providing the bare minimum to its employees. Instead, they have to focus on developing practices that motivate employees in more ways than one. Your people need to be shown that their work is valued and that they are an integral part of the company.

These feelings of validation will make for more hardworking, productive, and creative teams, thus improving a startup’s chances of success.