A Startup Founder’s Guide to Building a Good Company Culture

The Balance Careers defines company culture as the personality of a business or the environment in which employees work. Employees are more likely to enjoy their time in the workplace if they fit in with the company’s culture. They tend to be more productive and also have better relationships with their co-workers, too.

For startup companies, it’s vital to have a good company culture as people work very closely with each other and rely on one another to achieve goals. Take Salesforce.com for example, their founders Parker Harris and Marc Benioff believe that a company is a family and they make sure they cultivate that ethos from the start. New employees do a day of volunteering within the first week of the job, as Harris believes it’s not only good for the community, it also sets employees off to a good start with the company.

The success of building a good company culture relies heavily on its leaders. MobileMonkey CEO and WordStream Founder, Larry Kim believes the startup culture you create becomes a direct reflection of you. “One thing that absolutely blew me away as a founder was how much an organization mimics the characteristics of its founders,” he points out. “They observe your behaviors and actions and take their cues from what you do.” Kim also points out that negative behaviors have just as much impact as positive ones. Having an explosive temperament and cultivating a culture of blame are important things you need to watch out for as a leader.

It’s important to follow your core values, too, as you set the tone for your company. It could be something as simple as paying attention to what you wear to something as complex as how you set up the company’s structure. The key is to be very proactive when it comes to the values that you want your employees to see and adapt.

Defining your startup company’s culture is not hard, but it takes a significant amount of time, especially in the digital age. You start by knowing what it is you value the most—one that will resonate with your entire team and something that is actionable. Communication is also important. Your goals and visions need to be clear. Experiences should be collaborative, engaging and inclusive because employees today are interested not only in how much money they make, but how much they can gain in terms of skills and experience.

Take advantage of the technological advancements available today, as tools like e-learning can help give your employees a continuous culture of learning. Maryville University’s long form post on organizational leadership details how leaders need to be able to utilize emerging technological factors such as social media and e-learning. In today’s work culture it is not enough to be a top down manager that is disconnected from the people below them. Digitalist Mag notes that many modern leaders are already recognizing the need for their employees to learn, with managers taking the time to talk to their employees in order to know what they’re currently learning. This is turn leads to more opportunities for the employee, which benefits the company as they are more likely to stay motivated.

This is something that we have also covered. Digital company Launch founders David Preiss and Javier Santana make sure their company not only offers employees a chance to learn, but an opportunity to excel, too. Launch senior designer Heidi Williams said, “In the past 6 years they have established an environment that encourages creativity and weirdness, consistently recognize individual and team accomplishments, professionally as well as personally, preach the importance of work-life balance, and provide all the snacks. Lots and lots of snacks." Company culture starts with you, which is why it is important to create a positive workforce early on. The above companies have all managed to find the balance between a productive and happy workforce through taking extra steps to ensure their employees feel valued and taken care of.