You can build an amazingly successful startup if you found it on a special company culture.
I've found culture builders to be winners. It is obvious looking at Google and Facebook. Other examples in the past dot the landscape.
Today I read about a good example that focuses on a startup culture. Zappos co-founder Tony Hsieh told a Silicon Valley reporter about his focus on the company culture, what it did for the business and customers, and the related fights with the investors on the board of directors. The book is now published and already a best seller.
As you read about what Hsieh did, here are some questions to ask yourself about your startup and your self:
- Who came first in Hsieh's life?
- Who came first in importance in Zappos?
- What does love have to do with it? (No, I will not hum the tune for you)
- What was first in the list of what the Zappos board of directors wanted from the company?
- What did the board want the CEO to do?
- How did Hsieh manage his board of directors?
- What did customers think of their purchases from Zappos?
- What did Zappos provide to employees that was out of the mainstream?
- What is the return on investment for investing in company culture?
- What would you do if your investors significantly disagreed with your behavior?
- How would you feel if at the time they cashed in their chips, your investors received five times their investment (rather than the coveted ten times or more)?
Those are questions serial entrepreneurs know how to answer.
Do you know how to manage your board of directors? It is key to your success (and survival as founder CEO). I find first time entrepreneurs ill prepared to manage investors on their board.
Get prepared and you'll boost your chances of success.
BOTTOM LINE: Culture building is a central part of what great entrepreneurs do that makes them great. They also know how to manage their board of directors. When you learn to do both of those well, you'll be on your way to building a great competitive advantage, one that is unfair. You can do it.