While entrepreneurship can often feel like a very a lonely place, the power of bringing together a broad team of people who believe in your vision can not be overstated.
True success is built not only by taking risks and working hard, but by cultivating a network of employees, contractors, vendors, partners, distributors and consumers who truly believe in your company mission and who will work to see it grow.
The common thread that ties all of the players in this process together is your company culture. The word culture when referring to startups may conjure visions of free snacks, unlimited beer on tap & a rock climbing wall in the office, but true culture runs far deeper than employee perks.
Culture is embedded in every interaction that anyone has with your company, and that starts at the top- with you. Clearly defining your own vision for your company is the first step in cultivating a culture poised for growth.
STEP 1: GET PERSONAL
Everyone comes to entrepreneurship with a unique set of goals and expectations. Did you start your own company because you were inspired by a particular idea, or have you always had the entrepreneurial flame? Are you driven to change the world by providing consumers with a new product or service, or is it managing people and living by your own set of rules that gets you through the difficult days?
Bringing clarity to your personal mission will set the tone for your entire organization.
STEP 2: DEFINE WHAT ‘FITS’
When making decisions on who to hire, which vendor to contract with or which distributor to sell to, we often find ourselves using our intuition to determine who will be the best ‘fit’ for the company we are building.
This goes beyond employee credentials and supplier pricing, and is a more intangible reflection of our culture. Taking the time to spell out what your thought process is when making these gut decisions is key to understanding the values that will shape your company culture.
STEP 3: VALUE RELATIONSHIPS
Unlike sales metrics and balance sheets, culture cannot be easily quantified. The truest measure of cultural success within your company is the relationships you develop and nurture with employees, contractors, suppliers & customers.
Word of mouth is arguably the most powerful form of marketing in our ultra-connected world, and the message that is carried by others about your company is dependent on the strength of your relationships.
Regardless of how differentiated your product is or how competitive your pricing is, your cultural reputation can singlehandedly propel you towards tremendous success and profitability, or spell total failure for your organization.
STEP 4: ENJOY THE RIDE!
It is so easy to get caught up in the stress and pressure of running your own business. Going against the grain and creating something totally new is frightening and can be very overwhelming when things don’t go perfectly (which they never do!)
Find a way to remind yourself daily why you started this journey in the first place, and remember that you can create the environment you want to work in, just like you created the product or service that you sell.
If your company culture is toxic it will be incredibly hard to persevere through the inevitable stressful times. Taking the time to define and nurture your company culture will set the tone for continued success and ensure that you are excited to go to work every day.