Basic corporate culture design for startup

Corporate culture is essential in establishing businesses. These are intangible values ​​of the company’s image in the mind of the internal company team, which are expressed in the way they operate and interact daily. Furthermore, it affects the way of the startup develops and delivers their products to the market. We can say that corporate culture is one of the factors which determine the success or failure of startup.

Starting a startup, even if it is just a project, it has not established a company, but when it comes to a certain size of 5-10 people, the influence of cultural factors will grow. Startup co-founders must prepare to identify cultural factors to proactively design and adjust them to meet the target goals. So, the next question is what is the definition of corporate culture is, how to identify and measure, and how much different is there between a startup from a big corporation? Since this is a big topic, this sharing aims to focus on the basic elements that can be used immediately by the startup which faces many challenges.

The basic elements of any corporate cultures always include 03 criteria as below:

  1. Simulate the values of customers in the team, products, and processes.
  2. The pace and intensity of works, expressed in individuals and team.
  3. Language and tones exchanged by words, notes and designs.

Simulate the values of customers

The nature of startup is to solve their customer’s problems then it is necessary to be as close to the customer as possible. And the best way is to simulate and reflect the typical style of the target customer in the individual, team and product design process. A startup in lifestyle services, tourism will fundamentally be different from an IoT, or AI, or fintech startup. The founders could use the guidance questions below to list out and select 02 or 03 trails from customers to bring in the corporate cultures.

  1. What style do our customers wear every day?
  2. What is the working style of our customers?
  3. What are the hobbies, knowledge, and habits of our customers?
  4. What are the common tools and materials using by our customers?
  5. What is preferred meetup time of our customers?
  6. What are values our customers talk about?

The pace and intensity of works

We usually assume that the pace of a startup is super-fast, non-stop and the intensity is heavy-workload. However, it’s not a common trail of any tech startups. We need to understand that a new born company like a startup needs to speed up to catch up the opportunities; then it needs to have high-speed and resilient same time. The founders could consider it’s an option rather than a condition that they could re-design by their needs. Anyway, the founders need to commit to what they’ve chosen.

The pace is about time-frame to track for any works in a day, a week, or a month. And the intensity is about workload assigned to one team member. The founders could use guidance questions below to list out and select 02 or 03 trails from customers to bring in the corporate cultures:

  1. What jobs need to be done within a shift, a day?
  2. What jobs need to be reported with team or senior?
  3. What jobs need to be reviewed in public meeting or private meeting?
  4. How to give hard-feedback, or encouragement?
  5. What are the scenarios for town-hall and for what?
  6.  How to show the pace of other team-mate to others, by office design or app tools?
  7. When to bring a customer to the team meeting?
  8. How to change the pace from fast to slow and reserve to boost the interaction?

Languages and tones  

The startup not only stimulates the language of customers, but also creates their own style of communication as their iconic story. This will bring the whole team into a synergic viewing. Languages and tones could be applied on t-shirt slogan design, office desks design, or company wall design. Here are some guidance questions:

  1. Is the language formal or informal by internal communication?
  2. Is the language street-style or business deal?
  3. Is the language creative or short-and-sharp?
  4. Is the language ordering or friendly asking?
  5. Is the language from a thematic novel/ film or real life?
  6. Is it a sport language?
  7. Is it a historic language?

Don’t mismatch many languages, just choose one and apply across startup functions. Take an example of a startup to choose their sport-style language, they could create a sport-watch to measure their delivery-time of all works and calories, and they could design a finish celebration wall to announce any wins. Languages and tones need to align with other factors to create unique characters.

After all, every element can be actively chosen and practiced. The ultimate goal of corporate culture is to create cohesion, sharing and learning more so that a startup can reach its goal in conquering the market.

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