The Buzz Around Company Culture, And What This Means For Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur magazine, in partnership with CultureIQ has evaluated the top small business of 2015 – recognizing the best in its Top Company Cultures list. The pair identified the top qualities believed to be indicative of a high-performing business culture, and surveyed employees in a range of businesses.

They identified high levels of  teamwork collaboration, innovation, agility, communication, support, wellness, environment, responsibility, performance focus, lastly mission and value alignment and finally to be indicative of a successful company culture.

When comparing startups against larger businesses Entrepreneur in fact reported that whereas many might assume that fewer employees and better collaboration drives a better work, they would be wrong. “Culture is scalable,” – any company can benefit from it, though it must be intentional and strategically executed.

Glassdoor recently awarded AirBnb the winner of the Employees’ Choice Awards, Best Places To Work, with employees recognizing the value of “humility and passion,” awareness of personal development, with the bonus of in-house meals, travel credits and other creative perks.

Having a ping pong table and dress-down Fridays can be amusing anecdotes, but a true company culture is solidified in its core vision and everyday business operations. Identifying the common goals to be achieved, and the way in which this can be done from the start can save a business huge amounts of work down the line.

This is important when recruiting, when motivating team members and growing the business past the initial startup phase. Call it what you will, the secret sauce, the DNA. The company culture a leader sets for a business has the power to breed innovation, however a failed strategy can kill employee motivation.

4 Entrepreneurs Share Their Top Pieces Of Advice In Setting A Powerful Culture.

1. Culture Is Intentionally Planned.


“We base our company culture on a number of elements:

  • Transparency: We are 100% truthful with our employees.
  • Responsibility: We hold everybody accountable. We let all employees make their own decisions. If anything goes wrong they know that it was their decision to go a certain way.
  • Feedback: We discuss openly and we let reason and logic thrive over personal egos.
  • Creativity: We think of our employees as artists and we appreciate the most creative ones.”

– Ali Benmoussa, Searchub

2. It Requires Employee Commitment.

“People must be committed to the company, leadership is the key to success while creating a great company culture, it sets the guidelines of how the culture should be and is the role model of what it should be like.”

– Sergio Torres, Blackartel

3. Respect Is Key.

“We’ve built our company culture on the idea that every person should feel respected, and like they are moving forward in their life. We have an open door policy, and strive to make people comfortable without fear that speaking their minds will lead to some political nonsense. We provide new social experiences for our employees (trapeze school, dinner cruises, DIY speaker projects), as well as funds to continue education.”

– Jordan Wills, Cloud9 Smarthome

4. Maintain Transparent Communication.
Maintain Transparent Communication.

“You can ask my team, there is nothing I value more than transparency and open communication. This really makes it quite easy to not only work well as a team, but to develop a fun and strong culture. It doesn’t hurt to take a look at what some of the most innovative and successful companies are doing as well, I’m certainly guilty of piggy-backing off of them.”

– Chris Buttenham, Tasytt

As employee turnover increases with a connected world of new vacancies – HR professionals are increasingly turning to improved structural models for strengthened company cultures. Google even has a Chief Cultural Officer – responsible for growing a culture based on employee satisfaction, open communication and flat hierarchies. Removing the barriers of the cubicle, creating clear communication paths, knowledge experts, career progression or a flat organizational structure that breaks the traditional managerial hierarchy are just a few examples of how the workplace is evolving.

Company culture is communicated in every decision you make, and can be the key to employee retention and overall success. Set the tone for your culture in the early days and you will reap the rewards later on.

Emma Rosser is a Staff Writer at Publicize, which is a startup aiming to change the way companies approach PR.  Publicize has worked with a dozen+ Y Combinator startups and leading brands such as Hallmark Cards.