What is a Startup Culture...It's not what you think! - EmployeeConnect HRIS
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Startup Culture

What is a Startup Culture…It’s not what you think!

The Startup culture has earned a poor reputation for itself in that it’s all fun and no work. It earned this kind of reputation mostly because startups are usually led by a younger generation focussing on the thrill of the hustle and operating out of overpriced gaming rooms with a desk and beanbag or two. These fictional startups have all but crashed  since the runaway was utilised in setting up a cool workspace, instead of displaying actual work.

There are examples of companies who have modelled the office work space aesthetically on the lines of some of the amazing ideal work spaces present in the Silicon Valley such as that of Google and Facebook. However, a real start-up is much more than showcasing a sleek office with fun perks, rather, it thrives on the principle of working and playing hard simultaneously.

In the real sense of the term, a startup culture is a work place environment that promotes problem solving, flat hierarchy, and encourages open communication in a fun filled manner where work and fun thrive together.

What is a Startup Culture?

As discussed above, a typical start-up displays a certain aesthetic work space. But the question is where did this so called typical “startup look” emerge from? One of the well known furniture companies carried out a lot of research on upcoming start-up companies to understand how does an actual startup culture look like in reality and why does it have a certain aesthetic essence which is different from regular companies. The results derived from research states that the innovative and energetic vibe that is displayed by startups these days is primarily centered on four themes that connect a company’s ethos with its working environment. Let’s take a look at what are these four themes.

Personality – Research has highlighted the fact that many entrepreneurs of startups wish to showcase and represent their underlying personality in their work space. Instead of following the traditional norm of corporate feel with its rows of cubicles, these entrepreneurs wanted their work space to be lively and they prefer applications and furniture which expresses and matches their personality. Examples include a creative concept company displaying a timeline showcasing its milestones, pictures of employees with their pet names or hobbies displayed across the common areas within the company. The objective of including these elements is to develop a spirit of connecting with teammates, thereby building trust and camaraderie and a healthy working environment.

Passion – The first and foremost theme is the founder’s passion which ranges from the idea, the culture, and the business model. Such founders literally live and breathe business and that passion comes to life in the office environment. Irrespective of the fact whether the focus is on people, profit or the planet, these entrepreneurs have a unique sense of passion.

Agility – These modern day entrepreneurs are agile by nature, owing to the fact that their businesses are agile as well. Therefore they need workspaces that can facilitate these rapid transitions between activities. A modern agile workspace includes a setting where in people may stand while they are well as well as having large lounging spaces for people.

Authenticity – Startup entrepreneurs are in favour of building a culture of authenticity. They want to create an environment to which their employees look forward to coming back to everyday and stay productive and engaged while they are at work. Example: Start-ups encourage creating homelike workspaces which make the employees feel at home and they can be just themselves even at the work place. It includes having rooms with lounge chairs and kitchen tables.

Other than the above mentioned four themes, business leaders encourage that start-ups need to have the following attributes as well:

  • As a startup an “anything is possible” mentality is a must have attitude. Start-up culture warrants hard work and prolonged working hours. However, at the same time, it is also important to formulate your own rules. Since you work with a wide range of individuals, you need to find ways to work smartly, instead of slogging for long hours and overcome the outdated corporate work culture.
  • You must develop the ability to react, adjust, and shift promptly. An ideal start-up company projects collaboration across the organization and a team oriented approach. Big companies have the tendency and the culture to work as silo units with one unit trying to outdo the other, instead of uniting together as a team to work towards a common goal.
  • Encourage an environment wherein employees and leader have a sense of ownership, so that they are aware that their contributions indeed make a difference to the business.

How to Maintain a Startup  Mindset

It is not just enough to build a startup culture in a company, but it is equally important that no matter what stage your business is presently in, you continue to stick to the startup culture at all times. This will help you maintain the freshness and provide you with an innovative edge which always helps you stay ahead of your competitors.

  • Generate an entrepreneurial attitude within the team. A team of innovation-oriented individuals helps your organization to maintain the start-up culture, as they understand the importance of competing for results and talent.
  • Always select your leaders carefully. While hiring new leadership talent from outside, always ensure that they do not try to impose the culture of the big companies in your start-up.
  • While you continue to grow as a business, do not give up the practices that you followed as a smaller company, such as happy hours, games, and other team bonding activities. Maintain the trend to scale upwards as a company, but you can still continue to have fun at the workplace and maintain your core values as well.
  • Have a flexible attitude. One of the biggest hindrances to start-up culture is getting stuck in your ways and refusing to make any changes. Always remain open to valuable advice coming from anyone, especially the new hires. This is because they can give you a fresh perspective and may come up with great suggestions on how to improve the processes.

Startups have always been under the scanner of business critics, who are unwilling to break free from the traditional business structure. However, despite such challenges, start-up founders should always strive to do what is best for their business.

Alexi Gavrielatos

Business Development at EmployeeConnect