Starting a company is hard: it requires dedication and a very clear perspective on the personal factors that play a role in starting that business. In this post Juliana Davies discusses a not-so-secret aspect of MBA education: the idea of defining a culture in any business that you create. Juliana is a writer for MBAOnline.com, a website that is a professional magazine for all things business, entrepreneurship, and MBA-related.
No Longer a Secret of MBA Programs: Defining and Developing Great Start Up Culture
As the business world continues to globalize, it has also become increasingly sophisticated. For today’s startups, success can no longer be measured simply through bottom line profits or employee salaries. Recent studies show that employees, clients, and consumers all strongly scrutinize a company’s ethics before choosing to do business with them. A company’s culture consists of its values and practices, and an effective culture is one that is shared by workers at every level, from upper management down to office workers to cleaning and janitorial crew. If effectively employed, a company’s culture can inspire employees and clients to engage in their daily business on a personal level, enhancing commitment and passion for the work.
Building a strong company culture does not need to be overly taxing, but it does require effort and investment, especially by those in positions of leadership. In his recent book Grow: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit, Jim Stengel details a 10-year study of 50 of the world’s most admired businesses, including Samsung, Zappos, Red Bull, and Apple. Stengel concludes that businesses that focus their business toward making a positive impact on people’s lives frequently had a growth rate triple that of their competitors. In the book, Stengel stresses the importance of companies clearly communicating their values. Many leaders and managers hold “town hall meetings” for their staff to voice concerns and thoughts in an open forum. Opening dialogue between managers and employees can not only be very effective in acknowledging the individuality of every member of a company, but it also allows for greater innovation from a wide spectrum of perspectives and ideas.
Companies that find long term success are consistently the same companies that encourage continuing education by their employees. Management and veteran employees who act as mentors to newer hires can inspire a collegiate atmosphere among employees that encourages camaraderie and teamwork, while creating an environment where all employees feel secure in voicing opinions and offering suggestions and ideas. “Every interaction every day is a training event, and you can capitalize on it or not, Martin Zwilling, CEO and founder of Startup Professionals. “Training is coaching, rather than criticizing, to improve the outcome next time.” In a truly open and positive company culture, even dissenting opinion is embraced as an opportunity for individuals to learn and broaden their own perspectives.
Every business goes through difficult times, be they economic issues, publicity concerns or inner-office politics, but a strong culture can inspire employees to push through hardships for the good of the company and its mission. By encouraging involved and genuine leadership as well as an open dialogue among employees on every level, startup businesses can build the type of company culture that inspires pride in their employees. Building a strong reputation as a socially conscious company with reputable goals has been shown to draw and engage top talent, keeping costly employee turnover at a minimum. By focusing on effective company culture, a fledgling startup company can assure that it’s employees are contented and its principles in focus, while building the foundation for growth and security for the long term.