Embarking on a startup is such an exciting experience simply because of the vast possibilities. Your ideas and goals will take on a variety of shapes and forms, and watching everything unfold is half the fun.
Still, while the excitement lies in the experience, it is still up to you to set the stage. When it comes to crafting your startup’s culture, being thoughtful, introspective and assertive will serve you, your customers, and your team well. Here’s how to take those first few steps.
Understand Your Vision
You cannot get what you want without first knowing what you want. While it may be hard to put your thoughts and feelings into words, you still have to try. For example, define what attitudes you want in employees i.e. thoughtful, informative, enthusiastic.
Define the experiences you want customers to have i.e. educating, fulfilling, comforting. Once you plot out your feelings in black and white you can start to build pathways to reaching those desired results.
Do Not Compromise Your Values
As the leader of a startup, there is no question that you will be living, eating, and breathing your work. Because of the inevitable black hole that people tend to fall into in order to get things off of the ground, be sure to keep your values as your guiding light.
Before you open for business, have a conversation with yourself that reaffirms your moral and ethical ideals. Business strategies, working relationships, and conflict resolutions are all going to require you to think on your feet. Be sure to draft a working plan on how you would like to deal with things (while defining your nonnegotiables) first so that in the heat of any moment, you will know in your heart what you want to do.
Match People and Personalities
Once you draft the ideal environment be sure to fill it with people who will excel in your unique climate. As time goes on, the people that work for you will end up being in closer contact with your customers than you yourself, so you need to ensure that they will carry out the desired plans and actions you’ve set in place.
While you do not have to match each other’s personalities, you certainly can’t clash and above all, every person on your team (including you) needs to carry out the attitude you’re going for in every decision, interaction and move made.
Praise and Celebrate
Crafting your culture will not mean much if you do not continue to instill it in real time. One positive way to do this is to reward people with incentives for carrying out the ideals of the business while making a successful X (sale, connection, discovery).
If you want people to adopt your culture as their working lifestyle, incorporate some feel good emotions by finding your own way to celebrate successes. Celebrations all too often get overlooked in businesses, but those moments of pause and praise can give people a chance to really root in. Define what is worth celebrating in your special world (birthdays, holidays, milestone accomplishments) and make the effort to connect as a team through those festivities.
Keep in mind that your culture is the air in your startup’s lungs. Values and beliefs need to be reiterated day in and day out by means of communication and living by example.
About the author: Kelly Gregorio writes about topics that affect small businesses and entrepreneurs while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a merchant cash advance provider. You can read her daily business blog here.