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How to introduce a start-up culture into your business

How to introduce a start-up culture into your business

If one word typifies a new business venture it’s ‘excitement’, though at times it may feel like ‘fear’ is the dominant emotion.

However, as a business matures, and the fear factor subsides, that sense of excitement can also fade.

So, how can your business regain some of the thrill that drives the innovation and growth often associated with start-up enterprises?

And if you are in the start-up phase, what do you need to do to stay fresh?

Here are some tips.

Define your culture

While many start-ups share some common attributes, each one needs to identify what its unique culture is.

This is a high-level task, incorporating the reasons why you get out of bed each day and carry the risk of owning a business.

It will define the values of the organisation, its identity, growth strategy and relationships.

Of course, if it’s just written down and stuck in a drawer, this statement of cultural intent will just be that – a statement.

Once you know what your culture is, it is essential to communicate it to the entire business, and not just once but continuously, through your actions and those of other senior managers.

What you’re looking for is evidence that the culture you have envisioned is visible in the relationships between your employees, how they interact with customers, and in the impact your culture has on recruitment.

Improve culture

Having a culture is one thing, but it takes work to keep improving it.

Christopher Platts of ThriveMap has come up with a long list of ideas to improve company cultures.

They won’t suit all organisations, but they all embody that start-up vibe that can get your business humming.

Here’s a sample:

  • Have a culture workshop and create a company culture manifesto. Involve all your employees, as their input and buy-in will have a big bearing on the extent to which intentions become reality.
  • Hire more women, particularly in senior positions. Studies in several countries show that this improves team confidence, experimentation and efficiency.
  • Use a talking stick in meetings. Only the person holding the stick can speak. This allows everyone to be heard and encourages contributions from shy members of the team whose insights and ideas might not otherwise see the light of day.
  • Walk and talk. Hold some of your one-on-one meetings in the great outdoors. In a relaxed and neutral environment, people are more likely to open up.
  • Create ‘houses’ just like at school (complete with crests and badges and inter-house competitions). For businesses with more than 50 people this helps to promote collaboration across teams.
  • Offer weekly massages and promote meditation. They’re both great stress relievers. So is having pets in the office.
  • Tie your work to a purpose. Why does your business exist? What sense of purpose do your employees have each day? People want to make a positive difference to others and perform better when they are motivated by more than just the pay packet.

The bigger picture

Fostering a start-up culture can stimulate a business and make it more nimble.

There’s more to it than putting in a foosball table and stocking the fridge with craft beers – it’s more about empowering your entire team to find solutions to problems.

It’s this that will boost their morale, encourage experimentation and open up new opportunities to grow.

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