How To Lay the Foundation for a Thriving Company Culture
“Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.” — Tony Hsieh, former CEO, Zappos
When it’s just you, alone at your keyboard with the seed of a business, company culture is not a concern. But as soon as a startup gets past the you-alone-at-your-keyboard phase, it’s time to take action to ensure your vision permeates the business as it grows.
From the start, consider immersing your employees in your core values; incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion; identifying with a social mission; and openly sharing company goals with your team.
Here’s how YEC’ers lay the foundation for great company cultures.
Immerse employees in core values
“Businesses with strong company culture ... immerse their employees in another world that is built on the business’s core values. This world includes physical elements (office layout, wall art, food/beverages available, etc.) and nonphysical elements, such as management style and internal communication.” — YEC member Jared Weitz, CEO, United Capital Source
If you’re working on company culture, you probably have thought about your core values — the principles that determine how your company operates, how it feels to work there, and how it feels to do business with you.
If you haven’t formally recorded the core values of your business, now is the time. If you have, get ready to go deeper. Think about how to make those values permeate the experience your employees have while working for you.
Consider diversity, equity, and inclusion from the start
“Before you scale your community, put into place values, guidelines, and operations you want to bring to the world. Make DEI a core value from the start.” — YEC member David Spinks, CEO, CMX Media
The longer you wait to consider diversity, equity, and inclusion, the harder it will be to create a culture that welcomes and benefits from diverse perspectives. Get on it now.
No one person can create an inclusive environment. One person, no matter how open-minded, has only one perspective. Get educated; look into DEI resources created by individuals with different backgrounds and abilities. Put the advice that resonates with you into practice — and try some of the things that you’re not sure about; they might make a big difference for someone else.
“Cultivate a social mission to make your employees fall in love with what you're doing. Then they'll be more likely to stick around.” — YEC member Lane Campbell, co-founder, PAEAN
What’s your vision for the world? Does your company play a role in creating a better world? Many entrepreneurs engage their companies in social responsibility.
Some entrepreneurs have a built-in social vision, like YEC member Jessica Moseley, CEO of TCS Interpreting, which provides world-class language access to the Deaf community. But even if the mission isn’t obvious, it’s possible to embrace a larger social issue and align your company with it. Patagonia, a well-known outdoor wear designer, advocates for environmental preservation with their 1% for the Planet initiative. Start with your company’s product or service, and decide how it lends itself to making a positive impact.
If you’ve built your company around core values, taken diversity and inclusion into account from the start, and aligned your business with a social mission, you have a perfect foundation for a thriving company culture. If you need to work on any of these areas, there’s no better time than now.
Download “The Young Entrepreneur’s Ultimate Checklist: Building a Company Culture That Supports Your Vision” and start implementing 19 great ideas that have worked for YEC’ers.