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How to Build a Positive Culture in Your Startup Business

For startups, there is a thin line between success and failure. The odds are against you to start and you need to do everything right just to get by. Some think it’ll be easy to make money blogging, while others imagine their new product will sell itself. One major reason a lot of startups don’t make it is because they don’t have the right company culture. Establishing a strong, positive company culture from the get-go will influence every other aspect of your business and make success more likely. If you want to do this, here’s what you need to know:

Define Your “Why”

The first thing you’ll want to think about is why you’re doing this in the first place. What is the “why” behind your startup? If your answer is to make money, then this isn’t the strongest value to base your business on. Instead, think about who you’re helping. Does your startup offer an app that helps local restaurants? Are you creating a product that helps stay-at-home parents? Who exactly is it you’re helping and how?


Having a strong “why” will help you bring your values into focus. While every business wants to be a success and make money, you need to have a stronger foundational value there to help build a positive culture within your startup. It’s this value that will help keep you going when money is tight in the first days or when success is harder to come by then you imagined.


Write Out the Values

Once you’ve figured out why you’re doing all this, it’s time to put it into writing. Take some time to create documents or signs clearly outlining the goals and motivations for your startup that you can distribute to the team. Everyone who works at the startup should know exactly what it is they are working to achieve and why they are doing it. This document should be easily accessible and you should find a way to ensure your employees actually read it.


For instance, you could include it during the hiring process and ask them to sign stating that they read it. Or you could print up a big poster and hang it in the conference room where the team will see it each day. Another option is to include it somewhere within your team productivity tool, so that users see it each time they use the tool. It doesn’t matter what you create, as long as you have something to which your team can turn to clearly understand why they are there.

Hire Based on Values Fit

Of course, it’s hard to instill a positive culture at your startup if the people working there don’t have the same values as you. This is why you need to ask about values during the hiring process. How does a candidate feel about teamwork? Are they interested in helping people or do they just need a job? Are they willing to go the extra mile to ensure a task is done perfectly, or are they just looking to finish things as quickly as possible?


To have a positive culture at your startup, you need to have a team that’s on the same page. You need everyone working towards the same goals and with the same attitude. This isn’t something you can force onto someone, so you’re better off getting the right people from the start.

Team Building Exercises

A great way to promote a positive environment is through team building exercises. Chances are the people you’re hiring won’t know each other too well when you first start out. To have the type of positive atmosphere you’re looking for at a startup, you need to get the people working there more comfortable with one another. They don’t need to become best friends, but a friendly work environment can go a long way towards keeping people happy.


To do this, introduce some team building exercises every once in awhile. Take your team to an Escape the Room event and have them solve puzzles together. Organize a night where everyone goes out for drinks after work. Hold a company breakfast and have your employees bring their family with them. Or even just use apps like Slack to make it easier for your team to communicate. Little events and ideas like this will make your startup a more enjoyable place to work and in turn create a positive environment, all at little cost to you.

Delegate More Responsibility

It’s an unfortunate fact that many startups don’t make it. The result of this fact is that many startups develop a feeling of an “us against the world” mentality. When the world seems to be conspiring against you, the founder of the startup will dig in and find a way to make things work. If you want to develop a positive culture around your startup and improve employee engagement, you need to share this feeling with other members of team.


By delegating more responsibility to team members, you are giving them a larger stake in the outcome of the startup. Just like membership sites, you want your startup to feel like an exclusive club – one where your employees are lucky to be at the start of something big. It’s easy to not care about whether a startup makes it if your only job is to come in and type on a keyboard all day. But if you’re responsible for major decisions, you have invested interest in seeing the startup thrive. By getting more people on board, you’ll end up with a team that is dedicated to achieving success, rather than just waiting for a paycheck.


Lead by Example

Finally, the best way to develop a positive culture around your startup is to lead by example. Imagine two different founders of a startup. The first comes into work each day and seems overwhelmed by the stress. They spend all day in their office, they don’t care about what the rest of the team is doing, and they don’t give off a sense that they care about more than money.


The other founder is engaged with all his employees on a daily basis. He provides feedback, delegates important tasks, organizes team building exercises, and makes it clear why everyone is there to begin with. Which founder do you think will have a better company culture? Company culture starts from the top, so if you want to develop a positive one, think about your own actions and how you can better present yourself.


Developing a positive company culture takes time, but it’s well worth it. The key is to define your startup’s values, then ensure everyone who works there is on the same page. Once you’ve done this, it’s just a matter of forming a close-knit group that cares about the success of your startup. If you can manage this, you’ll end up with a team that is deeply dedicated to their work and brings in a positive attitude each day.

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