To build a great culture for your startup, be explicit

Edited excerpt from Happy Birthday HubSpot! 9 Lessons From Our First 9 Years by Dharmesh Shah:

In our early years, we didn’t talk about culture much. We hadn’t documented it all. We just built a business that we wanted to work in. But the real return on culture happened when we started getting more deliberate about it. By writing it down. By debating it. By taking it apart, polishing the pieces and putting it back together. Iterating. Again. And again. And again.

Make some small investments. For starters, have some conversations about the who. What kind of people do you want on the team? Try to avoid platitudes. Make a list of attributes and traits that other companies avoid, but tend to work for you. And vice versa. Write this list down, even if it’s just a simple email to the team. Once you start writing your culture down, a couple of surprising things will happen: 1) You’ll realize you got parts of it wrong (because people will tell you). 2) You’ll increase the chances of hiring for “culture fit” without falling into the trap of toxic homogeneity where you just hire people like yourself under the guise of “culture fit”. Short rant on that topic: No company should be able to skip over candidates for lack of “culture fit” unless it has at least a minimal clue of what that culture is.

One of my regrets about culture at HubSpot is that we didn’t wake up to the value of diversity until much later in our evolution. If you’re just getting started, take my advice: Be mindful of diversity super-early and beware the homogenity traps.

One thought on “To build a great culture for your startup, be explicit

  1. Pingback: In your startup, the goals and culture must become a mantra | A Founder's Notebook

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