How To Define a Startup Culture People Will Enjoy and That Scales With Growth

Jordan Turner
April 5, 2021
 min read
How To Define a Startup Culture People Will Enjoy and That Scales With GrowthHow To Define a Startup Culture People Will Enjoy and That Scales With Growth
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We can all agree that company culture is important. So much so that Netflix created a viral 125-slide presentation on it in 2009. But a lot has changed since 2009, and many environmental factors (like the worldwide pandemic), have affected how businesses prioritize their company culture. In 2020, many teams adopted a remote work model in the face of the pandemic. Naturally, as a result there was a shift in company culture, and initiating and maintaining it became a new challenge.

Indeed defines company culture as, “The set of behavioral and procedural norms that can be observed within a company — which includes its policies, procedures, ethics, values, employee behaviors and attitudes, goals and code of conduct.” Essentially, it’s the personality of a business. Company culture encompasses everything from trust and morale to flexibility and diversity. It is a big component in attracting new talent, and the retention of existing employees. In fact, studies have shown that employees who mesh well with their colleagues, managers, and company culture are more likely to stay with the organization and show greater job performance. 

Culture affects many aspects of the business, the most important being the people. The better the company culture, the greater the office morale is, which in turn makes employees more excited and motivated to succeed. If you don’t know how to define company culture in your startup or SMB, we’re here to help.

Keep these 7 things in mind to help you establish a company culture that will scale with your business. 

Define the company 

Every policy overhaul requires you to start at the core of the company. Ask yourself these three questions: 1) why do you do what you do? 2) what are your values? 3) what is your end goal?

Taking a look internally at what makes your company tick can help you establish a company culture that suits all of your overarching goals. Your company culture should reflect your business plan, policies, and values— so start there. 

What is your current company culture?

After you’ve established who you are as a company, and where you want to go, it’s worth evaluating your current culture. What do you do to put your people first? Do you encourage a healthy work-life balance? Do you support internal growth for your employees? Asking the hard questions will help you figure out what you’re doing well, and where you can improve. 

Delegate to a “people person”

Most Chief Executive Officers at a startup don’t know the first thing about company culture, and that’s okay. Instead of forcing it and failing, it might be worth delegating or hiring a point person to takeover. This could be a small team of peers who congregate to discuss company culture and how to put the employees of the company first, or an office manager who handles all things HR and compliance. Assigning a point person to manage office operations and procedures is a fool-proof way to ensure your startup culture is getting the attention it deserves. 

Get your employees involved

In company culture, people should be your number one priority— and their voice matters. Before you put any new policies in place, get your employees involved. Ask them how they would define the current culture, what they love about it and what they think is missing. Executives and upper-management can then adjust accordingly based on the feedback from the organization. By simply including your employees in the discussion, you’re making them feel more valued and involved in the business. 

Hire for success

Who you bring onboard can impact your startup culture efforts— for better or for worse. It’s okay to be choosy when making hiring decisions and adding to your headcount, because you want to hire for success. Before you send out an offer, make sure the candidate aligns with the company’s values and overarching personality. Afterall, your startup culture is all for naught if the team doesn’t match it.

You can use’s free recruitment presentation template to lock down top talent in a competitive market. You can customize the presentation to reflect your company values, culture, perks, and benefits. 

Reinforce your values

Nothing dictates your company culture like the values you stand for. It’s important to make sure your employees are familiar with the core values of the business and any initiatives in place to help apply them to their daily roles. In each quarterly all-hands meeting, we suggest incorporating a slide or two that reinforces the values of the company as a refresher to each team. Use this free all-hands meeting template, and add a quick slide highlighting the company values, then send the deck out to the team following the meeting so they can reference it in the future.  

Reevaluate often

There is always room for growth. Each quarter, you should reevaluate your company culture and how it’s growing with the business. Look at things like whether or not you are attracting the right talent, your retention rate, any growing pains, and the scalability of your policies. It’s also smart to gauge the office morale. Is the team feeling burnt out working from home? How can you pivot to improve your employees’ productivity and attitude towards the job? Your culture should grow with you, and as such you may need to make tweaks along the way. You can keep track of your most up-to-date policies by adding them to a universal employee handbook.

Jordan Turner

Jordan Turner

Jordan is a Bay Area writer, social media manager, and content strategist.