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Looking to Build Your Start-Up’s Culture: Here are Some Do’s and Don’ts

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If you work in a start-up, you’ve probably heard the term “culture.” But what does it mean? It’s not just something that happens in your office or around the water cooler.

A company’s culture is how employees and management interact with each other and how those interactions influence decisions and actions.

A healthy culture is one that helps companies succeed over time by creating an environment that attracts top talent, builds trust between teams, fosters collaboration and innovation—and makes everyone feel excited about comina to work every day.

Start-up culture: What is it? Why does it matter?

Start-up culture is the shared values, beliefs, and thoughts that are used within a company to shape how people approach their work.

It’s not just about what you do—it’s how you do it. Culture is important because it affects everything from your brand perception to hiring decisions to employee retention rates.

Do: Follow the 4 Key Factors

As a founder, you have to think about what kind of culture you want your company to have. Do you want it to feel like a family where everyone gets along? Or do you want it to be more competitive and cutthroat, with employees all competing for the same prize?

Ideally, the feel of an ideal start-up culture follows 4 key factors:

  1. Passion: this is what makes the long hours and hard work feel not only worth it but also go unnoticed. Work doesn’t feel like work.
  2. Personality: this makes your start-up unique
  3. Agility: knowledge and information flow in a way that ups production effortlessly: how work is completed, how you organize the office, and how you brainstorm.
  4. Authenticity: Respecting the individualism in the office and embracing the identities of all your employees. The organization is more fluid when it comes to processes and decision-making.

Do: Ask employees to live the values every day and use benefits to support this

Ask employees to live the values every day. Having employees embody the company’s mission and vision is essential for building a strong culture. Your employees initially may help you establish the core values of the company.

When interviewing prospective employees, we ask them if they agree with our core values so that everyone knows what they can expect from each other when working together on projects or campaigns.

Do: Make sure that benefits align with your core values

The benefits you offer should show that you value your employees and that you understand that your business will have a profound impact on their lives.

Think about engagement solutions and work-life balance programs that support and uplift your employees.

Life in a start-up can be stressful with the push for productivity and long hours. While creating your culture offer help for those who may struggle with the lifestyle and the potential for addictions and other mental health challenges. While you’re building your culture consider offering support from a rehab center in your employee handbook via Ascendant.

Don’t: Don’t promote unqualified people into leadership roles simply because they are good at their jobs.

When you’re managing a team, it’s important to have the right person in charge of each role. This means promoting people who are good at their jobs and also have the values and skills to be a leader.

Your leaders need to operate inside your rules and core values. A lack of trust in the leaders breeds toxicity.

Do: Remember that culture is a strategic advantage vs. a tactical tool for hiring and retaining talent.

When it comes to culture, there are different ways to approach it. One could treat it as an afterthought, something that requires no more than putting up posters in the office and having weekly “team building” activities.

Another way would be to think of culture as a stand-alone part of the marketing strategy, where you’re using your company’s values, goals, and personality traits as branding elements that can be used across every piece of content you produce (from blog posts to social media posts).

Employees that find your culture disingenuous will eventually disengage and leave the company.

Do: Know your values and mission from the beginning, and make sure you stick to them and reevaluate regularly.

If you’re looking to build a company culture from the ground up, the first thing you need to do is decide what your values are.

You’ll find that many companies have a similar mission statement for their business: This is who we are; this is what we want to achieve; these are our goals. But having this type of over-arching mission statement doesn’t tell people what they can expect from your company on a daily basis.

Each person that joins your company will bring a new personality and identity, different life experiences, and new ways of thinking. These new variables need to be addressed regularly.

Companies who care about their cultures find they keep better hires longer, have happier customers, and give investors more returns over time!

Culture is a strategic advantage. You hear this in business all the time: culture can be a huge differentiator in your success, but it’s not just about hiring and retaining talent. It’s also about your customers and investors—the people who use or buy from you.

Think about turning to values-based recruitment that prioritizes a new hires specific values, goals, and beliefs. It’s not only about their education, experience, and skills but their ability to think strategically, innovate, and advance your company.

By showing your employees that you genuinely care about them you send ripples through your entire company that is felt by your customers as well.


At the end of the day, there are no hard-and-fast rules for building a successful company culture.

But we know one thing for sure: if you’re looking to attract great talent or build customer loyalty, then investing in culture is worth every cent.

And hopefully, by following these guidelines, we’ve given you some good ideas on how to make that happen!

Kossi Adzo is the editor and author of He is software engineer. Innovation, Businesses and companies are his passion. He filled several patents in IT & Communication technologies. He manages the technical operations at

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