While it may seem like thinking about culture is a luxury in the early stages of a project, it’s something you can’t afford to put off. Establishing a productive startup culture from day one is essential because when your business starts to grow, the values you have installed will quickly spread to your new team members, and once attitudes and behaviors take root in your growing team, it becomes increasingly difficult to exert influence. them.
Since culture is essentially an implicit hierarchy of values that drives behavior, it’s important to consider what values you want to nurture and encourage in your new organization.
1. It’s okay to make mistakes, it’s not okay to repeat them
Ironically, if you work at the cutting edge of an innovative field, you may find yourself relying on the oldest empirical method in the book – trial and error.
Experimentation is in a startup’s DNA, and a startup that doesn’t encourage experimentation is doomed to fail. However, it must be clear that experimentation leads to errors and undesirable results.
Therefore, it is a very good idea to encourage experimentation and foster a high risk tolerance. However, the most successful startups are the ones that learn the fastest. So you have to be careful not to be too lax in your tolerance for mistakes and poor results.
Making mistakes is expected, but repeating the same mistakes should be strongly discouraged. In his book ‘Principles’ Ray Dalio writes that this is exactly start-up principle: is one of the main ones that helped him grow his business from a small startup to one of the largest hedge funds in the world.
2. Creativity of a Loose Culture Births
Should your employees call you by your first name or last name? How strict would you be with regard to dress etiquette, start times, etc.?
While these aspects of organizational culture may seem superficial, they are important because they determine the attitudes of your team members, and these attitudes will determine behavior.
While there are pros and cons to any decision of that sort, in general you should try to build a loose, rather than a tight, culture (as defined by Michele Gelfand).
A close-knit culture – a culture that strictly adheres to social norms is generally better for efficiency, but does not encourage creativity. If you want your team members to be creative, they need to feel that they are not constantly being judged and that they have the freedom to make their own decisions and play in their work.
3. A sense of urgency
In general, startups run against the clock. If you can’t find the product market before you run out of resources, you’ll be forced to close the store.
So you don’t have time to lose. You have to make as many attempts and experiments as possible to find feasible solutions.
The balance between play, creativity and urgency is hard to find, because they are in a sense opposite to attitudes. Yet this is not entirely true.
Creativity needs freedom, but this should not be misinterpreted – freedom does not mean a lack of pressure. On the contrary – pressure could be a creativity multiplier as it drives people to act rather than theorize.
Deadlines tied to launch dates, pitches, or key meetings, as well as KPI goals, are some of the tools you can use to build a sense of urgency.
4. Knowing that hard work pays off
Last but not least, work ethic is crucial for startups. The most valuable resource early-stage projects have is the team’s time and effort. Putting more time and effort into higher productivity. And since the start-up teams are small, the effort of one person can have a big impact on the overall success of the project.
While there are many ways to promote hard work, there are two main ones.
First, you have to lead by example. As a founder, you can’t afford to be less committed than the other people on the team.
Second, you should reward people for showing the right attitude. You can do this simply by praising them, but explicit rewards are also important. Performance bonuses and employee stock options are important tools to motivate hard work in your team.