Culture is the invisible guide to people getting things done in your startup.
When everyone becomes your company’s culture, people know what is needed to be done, with little need for supervision.
Serial entrepreneur Maynard Webb (author of “Dear Founder”) said:
“. . . I realized that I needed to implement practices and a culture that ensured execution happened without my direct involvement on every piece. I needed to ensure things got done without micromanaging.”
- Culture enables execution of the plan for the business to be fast and efficient, exactly what tiny startups require to thrive.
- Culture keeps people going even during terrible times. Apple fell twice into the critical care ward where it was on life support, yet the culture kept the company alive, even when its founder got fired. And it finally recovered to become the great Apple.
- Culture sets guardrails that limit moral corruption.
- Culture communicates what’s important to everyone. It becomes visible in the behavior of the startup’s people when the fledgling enterprise encounters the joys and sorrows of progressing along the startup trail.
- Culture is the soul of the new enterprise. It is the collection of passions, dislikes, and preferences of everyone, and the reasons for each person joining the startup. Values, politics, religions, morals are included. It’s big and it’s full of potential trouble – as well as goodness.
- Culture’s beginning is in the founder’s soul. It’s what she believes, what she lives for. It’s deep and does not change – until disaster requires open-heart surgery. Try Uber.
Culture + Vision and Mission
A lot of stakeholders will want to join you on your mission, that challenging quest that is based on your vision for what amazing things your startup sets out to accomplish.
The articulation of your vision and mission is about what you and they will live for, what’s central to your values and purpose in life. That’s the starting point for the successful founders I’ve worked with.
This is how the startup veterans begin, as they proceeded to craft their vision and mission statements.
- They began documenting their vision and mission in two statements, each consisting of one, or at most a couple, of simple, short sentences.
- Then they proceeded to craft the documentation of their company culture. Sometimes referred to as “core values,” they are very personal values that compose a shortlist of what is especially valued by the founder(ers) and the early employees.
Vision Creating Tool
I’ve found a handy tool that you can use for creating a vision statement and accompanying material for your vision and mission statements. It was crafted by Salesforce founder Mark Benioff[ii] and has found wide reception in startups and high-growth companies.
- VISION (What do you want?)
- VALUES (What's important about it?)
- METHODS (How do you get it?)
- OBSTACLES (What might stand in the way?)
- MEASURES (How will you know when you have it?)
Just get started. Yes, it’s not easy and takes time. But it’s important to do and do it well.
To craft your company’s culture statement, simply get started and then keep editing with your staff until you are satisfied the drafted culture statement conveys the values you think are most important.
You’ll find the Internet loaded with tips and how to do this work. One that I like is Your Dictionary because it includes a list that is practical and works well.
BOTTOM LINE: Respect the power of startup culture. Veterans of unicorns did and won, big time. So can you.
I wish you The Best on your Adventure!