Creating Culture in Your Startup – A Flyover View
Creating Culture in Your Startup – A Flyover View

cul·ture [kuhl-cher]

noun

1.

: the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time

: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.

: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)

 

In the midst of figuring out finances, staffing, operations, advertising and everything else that goes with starting your own business, there is probably something you are forgetting to build: Culture.

Believe me, I get it. For those that are entrepreneurial, I know you are constantly moving, constantly problem solving, consistently having to answer questions you didn’t even know would be asked. How could you possibly have time on your calendar to think about concepts as warm and fuzzy as culture?

 

My answer to you is to make time. Culture is either created intentionally, or it will be created by default. If you want a specific kind of culture in your start-up, foster it. If you don’t set it, the habits and core values of your employees are setting the agenda. That should be reason enough to light a fire under the bottom of any leader. If the agenda is set by consensus, your organization is going nowhere. Why else is culture important?

 

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Culture and Momentum are related

Momentum is mass in motion. Once your business is set in motion, whatever you put “weight on” (mass) will gain momentum. For example, if I as a leader value being on time, and yet I am lax about employees showing up late, I am letting the employee’s set the agenda and I now have to swing the momentum that has started to swing toward a perpetually-late culture back in the right direction. It’s much easier to start momentum than to redirect it! That’s a negative example. Let’s think of a positive one. Let’s say I create a culture that values learning and development, and I hammer on it from the start. I begin to push the thing that I have put mass on, and as it gains momentum, my employees start suggesting books or articles that grew them. They share ideas and concepts and start conversations on their own, and I no longer have to pull teeth to get people to engage. Momentum can be a leader’s best friend if it’s headed in the right direction. If it’s headed elsewhere, it can be your worst nightmare. It’s your choice if you want to foster it, or let it control you. Choose the things that are important to your start – up, put mass on them, and watch them roll.

People Crave Thriving Culture

Becoming stagnant cannot be an option. People want to be a part of something that is alive! The very word culture carries with it the idea of life and growth (in biology, the action of culturing something is to create conditions that promote growth). As a leader, I must create an environment conducive to growing people. If your employees can witness growth happening in their peers as well as themselves, you have a culture that is alive. I must be able to step back from the petri-dish that is my start –up, and see rapid movement.

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What are some ways I can foster growth?

Provoking material – Provide them with the materials that have provoked you: books, articles, Ted-talks, bringing in connections you know that are experts in a particular field, etc.

Questions – One of the most empowering things I can do for a person is to help them answer their own questions. Yes, in urgent situations direct communication can be needed, but if an employee asks a question, re-direct them back to themselves as an answer to that question with pointed questions of your own. Those that ask the questions are in control of the dialogue.

Grow Yourself – If you want to foster a culture of growth, yet place no value on growth in your own life, you are working against yourself. You can’t take people where you aren’t going. As you grow, so grows your organization. Make time to invest in your development.

Create a Ladder for People – This will be different for each organization, but people need to be able to know how to grow. Create growth points that you want them to achieve along the path of their overall growth. Make it measurable. People can’t achieve a goal they don’t know exists.

Keep Them Connected to the Vision – Communicate the overall vision regularly. Give something for people to move towards. You have to have a purpose for the growing pains or people will get disheartened. Pain forces action, and a strong connection to the vision keeps that action productive. They must know where they are going and what is possible!

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Here at Pure Pursuit we have a very unique culture. Our team is full of driven, opinionated people who hate losing, and yet somehow we have  camaraderie that surpasses any other workplace culture I have ever encountered. We disagree nearly every day, and yet we remain tight and move forward. It is all about the culture that you create. Our team continually grows in the areas mentioned above, and it creates momentum for the company. Here’s what we do:

 

Provoking Material: We train daily. We watch snippets from industry leaders during lunch, we drill in sales, we share articles within the team, and we read one book a month together.

Questions: We value problem solving and self-starting here, and allow people to get to the answer themselves. If we don’t know how to do something, we search it out. If something isn’t the best it can be, we find out why by asking questions. The only way you move forward is by asking questions.

Grow Yourself: We have a mantra around here that we subscribe to: “If you’re not serious about personal development, there’s the door”. If you are not growing yourself, you are robbing your team. Our CEO Glen is a lifelong learner and models this well.

Create a Ladder for People: We all know what it takes for us to move forward in the company. We are rewarded when we do well. It’s not a pork chop dangled in front of us, but rather an invitation to continually move forward. New opportunities are offered regularly.

Keep them Connected to the Vision: We have stand-up meetings every morning so that everyone has the overall view of where the company is at day-to-day. We share wins and losses. A big part of the meeting is our Strategy section, where we look to the future and collaborate with ideas on how to make the future happen. We all see where we can go every day. Since we all know where we are heading, the daily mundane tasks are done with greater purpose. Vision gives purpose to pain. If you ask any person in the company what the vision is going forward, we will all answer the same. Try that at a big corporate machine.

 

We value entrepreneurship highly here and we love to share what we’ve learned with those that will listen.

Hopefully we can help other startups like us to thrive with the lessons we’ve acquired. These lessons help us regularly in our quest to become the undisputed Premier Sport-Luxury Dealer in Kansas City (and we believe that is who we are).

You have a great opportunity as a start up to have a clean slate for developing your own culture. It is much harder to correct a destructive culture than to create a positive one. Don’t get down the road before you start caring about culture; take the opportunity you have NOW!

About Pure Pursuit:

Pure Pursuit is Kansas City’s premier Luxury Sports Car Dealer. We Specialize in Mercedes- Benz AMG’s, BMW M’s, Audi S/RS, Porsche Turbo/S, and more. We ship Worldwide, and deliver concierge-level service that customers are raving about. See For Yourself Here!

grant

About the Author: Grant Braaten, is Digital Marketing Manager of Pure Pursuit Automotive. Grant is proud to be from the greatest city in the world, Kansas City, MO. His general distaste for being a cog in the corporate system led to him to contribute to three KC startups before founding his own Non-Profit. He has the honor of being the first employee at Pure Pursuit’s nationwide headquarters…Learn more about Grant here: http://purepursuitauto.com/project/grant-braaten-digital-marketing-manager/

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