Long-term success isn’t possible without the right company culture and smart entrepreneurs will make sure that from the start they have a winning culture in place. Creating one involves a number of factors, almost all of which are within your control. Do it right and your office will be a place of passion and hard work. Do it wrong and your start-up could be a disjointed mess.
1. Recruit the Right People and Deal with the Wrong Ones Immediately
A consistent company culture is highly reliant on the right people. One bad apple may not necessarily spoil the bunch, but it can make it more difficult to create a sense of office identity. Even if that person doesn’t affect performance most of the time, all it takes is to have it disruptive at a critical moment to send things tumbling.
Make recruitment a priority right people from the start and put time into finding people who fit into and share your vision. Of course, not everyone will start fitting in, so a strong training and mentoring program is key to help them adjust. If someone ends up turning into a bad fit, replace them as soon as possible. Don’t be too focused on your turnover rate at this point, it’s better to get the right people in place quickly than to wait for the other shoe to drop.
2. Consistently Remind Your People of the Start-ups Mission and Vision
People are generally forgetful, and not because they mean to forget. There’s just so much to handle on a daily basis, even for people who aren’t entrepreneurs. Family, friends, hobbies, personal projects – all of these and more take up valuable brain space. If they’re not reminded of something often enough, it’ll fall out.
Much like a spinning plate, you have to maintain knowledge of your start-up’s mission vision. You need to remind them of it constantly. Posters on the walls and quarterly pitches aren’t enough. Talk to them daily. Whenever you make a decision and it’s applicable, remind them of how it fits into the company culture. It may annoy some team members, but it’ll also embed it into their heads. Even when you’re not there your statements and story will be.
3. Connect Your Company Standards to Best Practices
Ideas in a vacuum are hard to grasp, especially ones that are meant to improve performance. As an entrepreneur, it’s your responsibility to make sure your standards are connected to best industry practices. Your personal standards are one thing and it’s fine to base the company’s on yours, but connecting them to best practices tells employees that what they’re doing is not just for your satisfaction, but because it’s what the best works with.
Any comparisons should be against high-level competition and what the customers consider excellent. Don’t base your actions against your weakest enemies. People can be measured according to your enemies, and so can start-ups.
4. Embrace Innovation in Your Product and Process
Product innovation remains the foremost way for entrepreneurs to succeed. A start-up that can anticipate the customer’s future needs and develop towards them will find more success than one that’s purely reactionary. But it doesn’t end there.
You must also embrace innovation in how you do things. Instead of waiting for customer complaints – though they are a fine source of information – think about how you can make things better at every step of the sales process. How can you get them from choosing your product to actually purchasing it faster? What features do you think they’ll appreciate? What do your customers complain about and can you put it into one category so you know what to improve as a whole?
5. Create Endless Opportunities for Employees to Learn
As an entrepreneur, constant self-improvement is in your best interest. Doctors are required to attend conferences and talks on new medical developments, as it allows them to stay on top of new treatments and patient options. You should do the same. The more you know, the more options you have.
But you’re not the only one who should keep learning. To create a culture of high performance and excellence, you must create opportunities for employees to learn. Have them try out new roles that you’re considering promoting them to. Create a mentoring program to teach them new skills under a trusted and watchful eye. Give them the chance to use all the amazing technologies to become smarter.
Creating a powerful company culture doesn’t happen overnight. Much like anything else in entrepreneurship, it’s a marathon and not a sprint. As an entrepreneur running your start-up, it’s within your power to decide what kind of culture your office will have. Make sure it’s the one you want.