• How Do I Build A Company Culture?

    Your Mission Statement

    In small companies, culture are the values and beliefs that you as an organization hold dear and close.

    Your mission statement and future plans for the company dictate what your company believes in and what kind of a team that you want to build around you.

    For example my startup’s mission statement is to solve the world’s problems that matter and to provide solutions to them. We believe in this and we want to help make the lives of our target market much easier and better.

    I believe in this mission, and i want a team around me which also believes in this mission. I want passionate team members who will bring to the table their passion for solving problems and want to be part of this experience of building the company. I do not want people who only work for money as they will not be able to understand why and what we do.

    When your company is in the startup stage it is you who will have to be the first one to initiate the culture, but do bring on your team members on board because without their support it will become if not impossible extremely difficult for you to maintain. You have to be the example which your team will follow.

    If you try your best, but your team is not willing to accept the culture then it will not be possible for you to carry this on for the long term. It is essential that you bring your team especially your senior management on board.

    It takes a team to grow a culture.

    It takes a team to grow a culture. [1]

    Some Examples

    Steve Jobs of Apple Inc. believed in great design. He did not allow products of poor quality and design to leave the design table. If he found something to be lacking and the deadline was approaching fast, he would scrap the whole thing and redo everything. This is what I mean that you as the leader have to act on what you say. There is a reason why during his time Apple products were so well designed of top quality. He himself took part in the design and development process.

    He turned Apple into a company which believed in building well designed products, and not some boring duplicates.

    I believe that if you work on the products which align with your mission statement and values as a company your team will also embrace that.

    Be Responsible & Accountable

    You as the founder of your startup will be the one who will be managing the culture. You have to ensure that you and your team follow the culture.

    Suppose you want to endorse a culture where late sitting does not take place and that your resources come on time every day and leave on time every day.

    You yourself will have to come on time and leave on time. You have to lead by example. When your resources will see this they will get a sense of responsibility. Talk to them about this as well so that they know why you are trying to enforce this. Show them the benefits of this and soon they will understand.

    If you like reading and learning new skills, then encourage that. Purchase online courses for your team so that they study them. Dedicate a part of your team’s working hours to be spent on learning new skills.

    If you want to build a product in your company, then you may not have to be the only one who works on it. Apply the 80/20 rule in your company and let your team work on their own ideas during the 20% of their time and they work on other tasks during the 80% of the time.

    When you see an idea worth working on, build a team to work on it. Hold hackathons to find new ideas. The point is that you as the founder have to be the one who enforces these rules. You have to practice what you preach as well. Be open with your team, and bring them on board, and explain to them why you want to do this.

    I myself love to learn new skills, and to apply them, and so does my team. I have purchased courses on udemy.com for my team to study. In fact when ever they ask me to purchase a course for them i purchase that course. I believe that letting my team have what they want makes them even more motivated to work with me.

    They feel well taken care off that i care about them, and i do because i want them to do well in life. If they do well in life they will do well in my company as well.

    When you hire a resource for your company, make sure that he fits in your culture. As mentioned earlier your company culture is being passionate about solving problems.

    In large companies or organizations cultures do not matter as their aim is to hire the resource for the least amount of salary and their actions will not have much of an impact in the running of the company. Since your company in a small startup which needs input from everyone in order to survive, and grow hiring a wrong person for the job even if he has the skills may mean disaster for your company.

    Suppose you hire a hot shot programmer who writes the most beautiful code, and is really good at his work, but he is not passionate about your mission. He only comes day in and day out just to work and make some money. He does not care what problem gets fixed.

    Eventually he will spoil your environment and your other team members will start to get influenced by him.

    Even if you hire a mediocre programmer, who is willing to learn and improve and believes in solving problems, i say hire him instantly. As time passes he will improve in his skills, and he will show more passion than the other hot shot programmer.

    It is of utmost importance of who gets to be in your team. As your team will increase in size it will become even more difficult to manage your culture and to enforce it. Then you will have to hire people who will do this for you, but do make sure that your culture is not lost in the growth machine and day to day life. Culture is what gives your startup character a meaning to work for.

    Image Sources:

    [1] The plant image has been taken from Enterprise Startegies

    [2] Udemy My Courses List

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    January 5, 2015 • Entrepreneurship • Views: 6182

  • My First Lesson As An Entrepreneur

    Be like a bamboo, firm yet flexible

    Know when to stay firm on a decision and when to be flexible. That is key in maintaining relationships.: Just today I had to take a decision on a client which is bad for my short term  but good for our long term relationship with the client.

    Just yesterday I had to take a decision on a client which is bad for my short term but good for our long term relationship with the client.

    This is what as businessmen we have to do. What happened was that there was miscommunication between my business partner and the client. Apparently my client thought that we would be building the android app as well in the same cost that my business partner had quoted to him which my partner thought was just for the website.

    Another complication in this was that my client was a former colleague with whom I have had a good relationship in the past and did not want to spoil it.

    I found out only day before yesterday that we were to build an android app. My partner’s  mistake was that he misinterpreted. The client’s mistake was that he forgot to mention the app in the emails which went back and forth between the partner and client. My mistake was to not be part of the communication between my client and my partner from the beginning.

    I had two options in front of me:

    1. Demand that the client pays
    2. Bend and be flexible and facilitate the client

    I wanted to take the first option and demand money. I wanted to be paid. I deserve to be paid for the work that i am going to do. What would have happened either the client would have agreed and paid up, but that would deteriorate our relation ship with him, and there is a chance that he might not give his next project to us, or he would have taken the project else where.

    In both the scenarios we would have been at the loosing end. The client would have gotten his work done from someone else, but we would not have any work.

    The relationship was deteriorating between us and the client and I knew the problem lay at both the ends and this needed to be resolved. So I decided to take the bullet. I told the client that we will do the android work for free. I know I needed the money but I needed the project and future projects from the client as well, which i believe is better for us in the long term.

    I am a beginner at this and I am learning along the way of what I should do and what I should not do.

    Lesson learnt: Always be at all the meetings and be in the loop. I trust my partner but after this I have to know what is happening, and most important of all bend, be flexible like a bamboo.

    I would like to hear from your experiences. How would have you handled this situation? Did i do well? Only time will tell if my decision was right.

    Source of the featured image is Shutter Stock

    May 22, 2014 • Entrepreneurship • Views: 4808

  • How Not To Treat Your Employees

    This post was originally posted on Medium.

    I worked in the industry as someone’s employee for 2 years before moving on to found my own startup.

    During those two years i have learned alot and have experienced pretty much everything, from being one of the best employee of the company to being at the lowest point of my career.

    I was a different kind of an employee. If you ask my former employers they will say that i was energetic, passionate about my work, and volunteered to do tasks that were not in my job description.

    But like most over worked employees i experienced a major break down, and made a major mistake after which i could not stay in the company.

    The performance of the employees is affected a great deal by internal and external pressures. The employer has a responsibility in keeping the morale of his employee to be at an all time high, and when it has become low, it is the employer’s responsibility to find out what the problem is since the employee spends most of his waking time at he office.

    Following are some points which i believe should be followed by the employer in order to keep his employees happy:

    Personal time of every employee is very important

    People expect to work a certain number of hours per week, and the remaining time is supposed to be their personal time where they can do anything they want.

    When the company starts to encroach into that personal time, then problems start to crop up. Employees need time to rest, relax, and do what they love.

    Do not make the employees work over time for no reason

    Lack of sleep and rest have a major effect on the performance and efficiency of a person. In jobs which require creative thinking, one has to be fresh and alert in order to be able to perform.

    A post on Fast Company discusses how working late at night affects our brains.

    Give praises publicly, but criticize privately

    Giving praises to employees increases their morale. It makes them feel that the company cares for them, that their efforts are being recognized. Praises should be given publicly. This will further give the other employees motivation to do good work.

    However, criticism should instead be given in a closed room where the other employees can not hear. Why ? This affects the way the other respect that employee. I have seen cases where the project manager openly blames an employee for a project which had failed. This is some thing which should not be done at any cost.

    Do not discuss the performance of one employee in front of the other

    There have been times where the project manager has discussed with me the performance of some other employee. If i would have been part of the management, it would have been fine, but i was a developer there and not in the management. If he talked about some other developer there with me, then he would definitely talk about me with other developers.

    Ask why 5 times to find the cause of the problem

    In the well written book, “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries, the author tells us to ask why 5 times when a problem has occurred. This will allow us to find out the cause of the problem fairly quickly.

    Hire project managers (if needed) who have people skills and know how to manage people

    The job of the project manager is to manage employees, and to assign tasks. The project manager also has to know how to behave in public. He should know what to say, and what not to say. He should not blame the employees for something which should have been done by him, or the company.

    Always have the key employees in loop before making commitments

    Usually in development related projects companies give time lines for when the project will be completed. Many times the senior management makes commitments without keeping key employees in the loop. The result of this causes mismanagement, and causes employees to work over time.

    The above mentioned list is not exhaustive. There are many other points which an employer needs to consider. Since i have started my own startup, i will surely try to keep these and other points in mind in order to keep my employees happy.

    May 15, 2014 • Entrepreneurship • Views: 4901