startup culture

What we don’t need is for EVERYONE to be the same.

Startup culture. Is there really a definition? You might think a definition is irrelevant. You might even think you are too busy to think about it. Yet too many startups don’t make the effort to define their culture and that’s when things can often go wrong. So why is this the case?


Defining startup culture goes a long way to eliminating potential problems and it’s worth considering what it means to you right away. This matters because we can understand the exact work involved and all be pulling in the right direction. We can support the work of our startup and make contributions far more valuable. This will help the whole team have ownership and develop more satisfaction and involvement. Confusion is negative and damaging.


So what is Startup Culture exactly?

Startups are part of a wider culture for sure. They are very much part of the now and looking at the proliferation of startup office spaces in London it’s a ‘happening’ sector. But being part of that bigger picture isn’t what I mean when I think about startup culture. What I’m talking about is avoiding clashes of belief, culture and approach further down the line and preventing, the often very bitter fallouts, that can happen later on. The problem is, without help, many start-ups find it hard to define its culture and even if they do, a small team can find it difficult to reach a consensus.

So if you are confused, then consider these three things:

1. What are your identity and core values?

2. What is your mission and what’s important?

3. What is your talent strategy? How do you find it? How do you hang on to it?

4. What is your growth strategy? How will you manage relationships at every level?

Often we are unaware of our startup values until someone challenges them. 

For a startup unawareness is not helpful. You may have an idea about what constitutes success for you but have you summarised how your own personal values that will be part of your startup will impact the things you do and how you do them? If you are not quite sure, make a list of what has made you happy and what has made you mad in workspaces you have occupied in the past.  Or look at 5 ways to build a strong start-up culture.


It’s not enough to make a list; startups need to live their values.

You could list the most relevant things, positives and negatives alike. They will shed light on how your startup should proceed. You want something that everyone can sign up to and agree with.  Putting these ideas together in a document or painting it on a wall won’t make people follow. It’s something that has to be discussed regularly and be uppermost in the team’s mind whatever they are doing. We are talking culture with a capital C here and that has to be infused through the whole outfit; it’s not a veneer; start-up culture is  not just a series of perks.

The startup needs to be constantly aware of what your company stands for. Company values must be explicit and it’s up to every startup to define their own. Expectations and sense of purpose should be clear – always. That’s why the way you communicate is vital too. It’s not a case of telling people what you stand for but showing how that manifests itself in the 'everyday' as well as the vision. Promoting participation is something that makes a massive difference.


Remember, it’s people who matter to startups, SMEs and organisations.

Whatever your startup culture, whatever your customer service plan, it’s the people who matter. It has to be a two-way process and not something that’s simply imposed. That will mean in a crisis everyone will know how to react or plan. But what we don’t need is for everyone to be the same. Thinking, feeling and implementing your startup culture is the way to go.

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