The journey of a founder is not a linear path by any means, and the juggling act is continuous. So what happens when all lights are green and funding is in and/or traction and revenue high and it’s time to grow and grow fast? One thing is for certain, don’t lose sight of your culture when approaching growth.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the YC Female Founder Conference. It was refreshing to hear the importance of culture raised by many of the founder and investor panelists such as, Kathryn Minshew, CEO & Founder of The Muse. It validated what I already knew and have seen with clients over the years.
High speed growth can easily become chaotic and unproductive. I often advise companies to not just throw people at a problem. This could be a recipe for disaster. Rather first start with mapping out your culture. Your company culture is your anchor point. It is what should help drive who you will hire, your overall work environment, your company organizational structure, and your pace of growth.
WHERE TO BEGIN
1) DEFINE YOUR CULTURE
Write out your mission, vision, and company values. Know what you stand for and where you want to go despite current size and state.
2) BE ABLE TO ARTICULATE YOUR CULTURE TO OTHERS
As you recruit new talent it will be critical for the founders and leadership team to be able to clearly state what your company is all about. This does not mean explaining “what you do,” yet rather describing your “DNA”. While hiring a diverse team is important, so is hiring people that believe and will respect your values and vision as they help you grow your company.
3) YOUR CULTURE MAY NOT BE FOR EVERYONE
Culture allows mutual selectiveness. The people you hire today will likely be leading your company tomorrow.
4) EMBED YOUR CULTURE INTO YOUR EVERY DAY WAY OF WORKING
Culture is not just something that is written in a handbook or a mission statement splashed on a wall. Culture is a way of living and operating as a company. For new hires it starts day one, with their welcome and on-boarding. Actually for new hires it starts with the interview process! It is their first introduction to what life might be like if they join your team.
5) LET YOUR CULTURE SHAPE YOUR GROWTH
Culture should shape your company policies to align to your values, influence partnerships you make and investments you consider down the road. Culture should not be an afterthought to what you do and how you do it, but at the forefront of every decision you make as a leader.
6) STRONG CULTURE DRIVES PURPOSE AND MEANING
At the end of the day most people want to be a part of something bigger than just a job-a strong culture can provide that meaningful foundation. Building connection to a purpose for your people is critical in driving loyalty, employee engagement, and overall day to day satisfaction. A connected and content workforce leads to better productivity and innovation, hence smarter growth.
You can have the best products, services, and technology, yet people make things happen. A strong company culture can be your greatest asset for smart growth and expansion with amazing people supporting your vision for the future.