Keeping your startup the cool place to work can be a challenge.
You have an entrepreneurial spirit. You had an idea and you created a business around it. You’re succeeding in ways you only dreamed were possible. So you started hiring others to help take your idea and make it even more successful. And now you have a company filled with people who also have great ideas. But they also have demands.
How do you keep your startup feeling like the fresh, cool thing you envisioned but respond to the needs of your team members? Here is a list I compiled from working with both large corporate organizations and small startups. The feedback from leaders in both types of companies is surprisingly similar. Know why? Because people’s basic needs are the same no matter what environment they work in. Check out the list below.
Table of Contents
1. Focus On What You’re Really Good At
Your core values are infused into your business and set the base for your culture. If you start wearing too many hats in the company, what defines the culture starts to get watered down. So if you’re the best R&D chick in the building and that’s what you’re most passionate about, then hire others to do the finance, marketing, and sales work. You drive the team with your enthusiasm for what it is you’re best at doing.
2. Use Freelancers and Contractors
Why? The feedback I received from my clients is that the use of the freelancer infuses an entrepreneurial spirit into the group. They have fresh ideas from working with many other companies. They are up on the latest technology because they have to keep their own business fresh and competitive. And the cost is variable instead of fixed, so you can pay for their skills only as needed.
3. Keep The Success Of The Team At The Forefront Of The Business
When I interviewed the founder of a structural engineering firm, he said that it is hard to admit you can’t do everything but the fact of the matter is – you can’t! So he makes a special effort to celebrate the accomplishments of the team as often as possible. Giving everyone a chance to see what’s happening in the business; who’s winning; what types of projects others are working on; etc. provides greater visibility of everyone’s success.
4. Leverage Your Team
Not to sound like a broken record here, but taking advantage of the team you’ve assembled is the best way to achieve success and make your business feel like collaboration, not a stuffy board room. You took the time to hire employees, why not give them a chance to shine? I heard Bill Walsh speak recently, and he referred to this as creating “champions of the cause.” Engagement comes from employees understanding what’s in it for them; what are the company goals and how do they contribute to the success; and how are they rewarded or recognized for their achievements.
5. Social Impact Is The Currency Of The Future
Keep in mind that there are generational balances on keeping your start-up fresh and cool at the same time attracting the level of qualified candidates you need to do the things above (oh, and generate revenue, make payroll, and a few other things on your task list.) One thing is pretty clear, across generations, that social awareness and commitment to being a good citizen is important to people in multiple generations. So if you want to keep your business fresh and appeal to current and future employees, consider programs that encourage volunteering in your community, flexible time for family needs, and similar topics.
As you consider these ideas don’t forget one of the most important things about keeping your business fresh and relevant to your employees and your industry. It’s you. The vision that got you into the business is the vision that has to come through in your business to keep everyone thinking this is why we are here; this is why we stay, and this is how we will succeed.