Start-ups often pride themselves on the unique culture created when they began. With the founder at the helm, staff feel connected and a bond is formed. How do you hold onto this start-up culture when your business starts to grow and your focus is taken elsewhere in developing the business?
Identify your start-up culture and what makes it special?
What are your core values? What was your ethos when you started the business? Once you understand this it’s easy to keep this at the forefront of all decision making and future planning.
Hire the right people, don’t be drawn purely on skills and experience
Look for shared values in your hires and those who will reflect your company ethos and represent the brand you have built. If you’re experiencing rapid growth it can be tempting to make a rushed hiring decision in order to fill the gap and get some much-needed resource on board. However, it’s always advisable to take your time to make sure you find the right fit, and you’re more likely to retain this person too. Find out how to recruit the right people.
Walk the walk, talk the talk
This means being open and accessible to staff; leading by example. Start-up culture is based on the founder being a key part of the business, working at ground-level with staff. In order to maintain this, it’s essential for founders to be visible and accessible to all employees. This doesn’t mean that they should continue to manage every member of staff, but being present, involved and working closely with the team will help to keep the culture alive.
It’s important to continually gain feedback and collectively listen to staff – particularly those who were onboard from the start. Taking their views into account whilst growing the business will help you maintain the start-up culture created. Use staff surveys or hold weekly meetings to gauge staff morale and gain feedback where you need to. We’ve got a free webinar on how and why you should run staff surveys if you want to know more, with our partner WeThrive.
Great questions to understand are:
- What is our business good at?
- Where do we need to improve?
- What makes us unique?
- What are the best and worst things about working here?
Be transparent about the direction of the business
Share your vision with the team so that everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. It helps if the team are on board with the long-term goals of the company and can work collectively to achieve them. Host Regular (monthly / quarterly) company meetings or ‘town halls’ to share updates on business, operations, achievements, opportunities and financials. Read our guide on how to reorganise your start-up.
Be mindful of scalability when defining your values, USPs, benefits and perks
In start-ups where a team of six have monthly dinner parties at the founder’s home, will be not be able to sustain that when the headcount grows to 16, 26 or more. Therefore, be careful to cultivate a culture that can sustain rapid growth, otherwise you could be in danger of creating a cultural divide between the ‘originals’ and ‘newbies.’
Let others take control
It can be tempting to micro-manage when it’s your business and your baby. However, delegation is essential as the company grows. Not only will it free you up to focus on strategy, but empowers your staff and sets you in good stead for becoming a larger organisation with numerous management streams.
Recognise those who follow the company start-up culture
- Weekly staff meetings which end the week with a beer and start the week with new expectations and positivity.
- Be as transparent as possible. Use forums to recognise people who have gone above and beyond and use them as examples to promote positive behaviour and company values.
For help or advice with your HR get in touch for 15 mins of free advice or you might want to read HR for start-ups – what you need to know. If you’re an agency owner or founder, find out how we can help with your HR.