HoneyBook’s Winning Culture: inspired by our customers, creative entrepreneurs

HoneyBook’s 5 Core Values

We just received Entrepreneur’s Top Company Culture Award for the second consecutive year.

So what’s the HoneyBook magic sauce? Like most other things in this crazy #startuplife, it’s hard to nail down. But if I had to bottom line it, I’d say our successful, hard working and loving culture was based on building a values-driven organization.

We didn’t know this when we set out to build HoneyBook four years ago. My cofounders and I simply decided to create a place that we’d like to work in. We introduced the rules and habits that we always wished we had in a workplace and ultimately, those habits turned into core values that govern everything that we do, and how we behave as an organization. Here are some of my major takeaways on what makes us a unique, thriving company.

Define what matters to you.

Establish your core values from day 1 , so that they are built into your company’s DNA. I still remember coming together, crowded in my cofounders’ apartment (our first office), compiling a list of about a hundred things that we wanted HoneyBook to reflect. There were so many ideas that we wanted to stand for (see pic below), but when we really thought about what we were already practicing in our everyday lives, the five most fundamental values became clear. Our core values have since become our north star and they guide our decisions. We also believe these values align with those of the members we serve.

HoneyBook’s original working document on core values. The list went forever. In the end, only the 5 essentials made it.

People come first.

We are constantly inspired by our members — creative entrepreneurs who work tirelessly to put people first in their own businesses. Their entire livelihoods are devoted to providing incredible customer service and memorable experiences, so there was no doubt we could aspire to anything less. Today, being in service to each other permeates every element of how we work together inside our company.

Putting the emphasis on people — customers, employees, investors, partners, job candidates— has allowed us to develop a culture where the driving force behind each interaction is a genuine concern for the well-being of others.

Invest in your employees.

In Silicon Valley, the hotbed of the world’s technological revolution, the competition for top talent is fierce. When you find the perfect candidate, it doesn’t just end with their signature on the e-dotted line, you must also invest in their development.

We take great care in planning each stage in our employees’ journeys. We begin investing in our employees before we even know that they are joining the HoneyBook family. Our interview process is designed to be a delightful experience for candidates — whether they get the job or not. When we onboard, new employees meet with each co-founder and leader to get a high-level view of the company and to understand where their skillset comes into the mix. We also believe in a culture of radical candor and practicing 360 degree feedback to foster an environment of transparency and growth everyday, not just during performance reviews. This culture of in-the-moment feedback, transparency and trust is easy when everyone at your company feels that they part of a larger family.

Focus on superpowers.

We believe in doubling down on strengths. When an individual’s strengths and interests line up with what the company needs, you have a perfect sweet spot. No matter what role, each employee should be able to connect what they are bringing to the table and how it makes a tangible impact in the company. If you happened to swing by our sunny San Francisco or Tel Aviv offices, you would find about 110 brilliant individuals laughing, collaborating, and forging new paths in their respective roles, all of whom love what they do. By keeping the “why” at the forefront of our company, we emphasize the value of each individual’s unique superpowers in achieving our mission. In fact, our third core value is “We love what we do.”

We are committed to upholding these values in each decision that we make as a company and we look for them in every hire that we bring on.

Live by your values even when it’s hard.

I would be remiss not to mention that all of these values matter most in times of hardship. When the going’s easy, it’s easy to do right. But what happens when you have make a painful decision, such as letting an employee go? I can’t think of a time when our CEO, Oz Alon, has risen to our values more so than in those moments. I’ve seen him handle these sensitive decisions with dignity and respect, offering his help and network in the new job search, and doing such seemingly small (but kind) things like walking people all the way to the train station when they needed it.

Building a company founded on core values has truly been a labor of love. But just as our members made the brave decision to start their own businesses, we believe in tackling the greatest challenges, daunting as they may be. It’s no surprise we chose fearlessness as one of our core values.