A small company is a lot like a group of friends: It’s all about people.
This is something that every startup founder will agree with. Even if you are starting the company alone, it doesn’t mean that you will work alone. As your company grows, you will need to hire more people to keep up with the pace.
But it’s not just about hiring people; it’s also about creating a culture for them to thrive in. Culture is something that every entrepreneur should think about from day one of their startup.
Culture determines how your team works together and how they interact with each other. And even though culture is difficult to define, it is easy to recognize when you see it: employees are happy and enjoy working together; they are loyal and trust each other; they work efficiently without feeling any pressure or fear of failure.
It is no wonder that so many entrepreneurs list building a strong culture as one of their top priorities!
So what can an entrepreneur do to create such an environment? What does the process look like?
Here are some tips for creating and sustaining a positive startup culture
1. Be transparent as much as possible
If you want your employees to be committed to your mission, they need to know what the mission is in the first place.
One way of making sure that everyone on your team knows what you are doing and why, is by being transparent with all the information regarding the progress of your startup and any changes happening within it.
Keep everyone up-to-date on company news via internal communications channels (e-mail, messaging apps etc.) or by hosting office meetings from time to time where employees can discuss recent events with their colleagues or ask questions directly from the founders.
In fact, having an open dialogue between employees and management will help build trust within your team.
But remember: transparency shouldn’t only be something used when things go wrong — make sure you use this communication channel as often as possible so that everyone feels included in the decision-making process.
This way, even if there are some disagreements among team members (which might happen), everyone will still feel like they have a say in how things develop — this ensures better productivity in the long run.
2. Don’t be afraid to experiment
If you want your team to feel creative and innovative, you need to be open to trying new things.
As a startup founder, you are in charge of making the big decisions, but don’t be afraid to let your employees make small ones as well. If there is a new idea that someone has come up with, don’t just reject it outright; instead, give it a try and see how it works out.
If the idea fails, learn from it and don’t let it discourage you from trying new things in the future. On the other hand, if the idea works out well, make sure to give credit where credit is due! This will encourage everyone on your team to think outside of the box!
3. Communicate often
Communication is an essential part of any healthy relationship. Even though your team members work together every day, this doesn’t mean that they know everything about each other — so make sure that you spend some time getting to know them better.
Ask questions about their lives outside of work; learn what motivates them and what they are passionate about. The more people feel comfortable around each other, the more efficient they will be at work — because they won’t have any awkward moments or misunderstandings when working together.
You can even try out some fun activities together like cooking classes or book clubs. These small things will go a long way in creating strong bonds between employees who might otherwise never interact with each other on a personal level.
4. Don’t get discouraged by failures (yours or theirs)
Even though mistakes are unavoidable in business (and life), try not to take them personally when they happen.
If an employee makes a mistake (for example: by delivering late), don’t punish him/her for it — instead focus on helping him/her fix the problem by discussing possible solutions and alternative ways of solving it next time around.
After all, everyone makes mistakes sometimes — even you! It’s just how we learn from our mistakes that matters most; after all: how can we expect our employees to improve if we are always on their case? Not only does this hurt morale among your team members but also makes them feel less motivated because they know that their efforts won’t necessarily pay off.
Remember: people perform better when they feel appreciated for their efforts and know that management trusts them enough not to micro-manage them every step of the way.
5. Make sure your employees feel appreciated
No matter how big your company gets, make sure that you don’t lose sight of the fact that you started it with a small team. Even if your company has hundreds of employees by now, you still need to remember to give credit where credit is due.
If someone has done a great job, don’t be afraid to let them know. Even a simple compliment goes a long way in boosting someone’s self-esteem and motivation — which will reflect on their work performance.
And if someone needs some guidance or help with something, be sure to step in and lend a hand whenever necessary. In the end, we are all human and we all have our own strengths and weaknesses; that’s why it is important to learn from each other and help each other grow.
Building a strong culture for your startup takes time — but if you take the time to do it right from the start, it will definitely pay off in the long run. Just remember: your team members are just as important as customers or investors; they are what keeps your business going so treat them well.
About the Author
I am the Founder of Cudy Technologies (www.cudy.co), a full-stack EdTech startup helping teachers and students teach and learn better. I am also a mentor and angel investor in other Startups of my other interests (Proptech, Fintech, HRtech, Ride-hailing, C2C marketplaces and SaaS). You can also find me on Cudy for early-stage Startup Founder mentorship and advice.
You can connect with me on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/alexanderlhk) and let me know that you are a reader of my Medium posts in your invitation message.