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Marketing Insights for Entrepreneurs

Company Culture Starts with You

This is a guest post by Spencer Fry, CEO of Uncover.

There are thousands of articles out there about how to create great company culture. These articles are great resources to founders, but they all recommend the same broad set of ideas — hire the right people, offer benefits, and be positive. While these articles are useful, they won’t help unless you’re working from a solid foundation.

After all, company culture doesn’t come from checking a bunch of boxes.

That’s why no discussion of company culture can begin without first looking at yourself as the founder. A great company culture comes from a mission that employees feel connected to. Guess who’s responsible for creating this mission? That’s right — you.

Create a Mission or Set of Values

If company culture isn’t a bunch of cool benefits, then what is it? It’s a positive attitude that makes employees want to come to work every day. The first step in creating it? Thinking about your values.

While you’re in the planning phase you should list the values that you want your company to have and your employees to share. Are you committed to innovation? Do you care about generosity? Are you in it for pure financial gain?

A company mission or set of core values is a good place to start. Just check out Grasshopper’s as an example.

A friend of mine is convinced that he has an odd but interesting characteristic that he wants all of his employees to have, and that’s “luck.” He won’t hire you if you consider yourself unlucky — and he’ll ask you during your interview. Sure, luck is an odd place to start, but it’s because he wants “glass half full” types of people that expect good things to happen. Luck is as much of an attitude as an attribute, right?

Hire for Your Mission

While you don’t need to go to the same extreme as my friend, you should be very selective in your hiring. You need to do your best to hire people who understand and appreciate your company mission.

Don’t just consider skill. It goes without saying that you want people who are great developers, designers, business developers, and so forth, but if these people aren’t committed to your company goals, they’re going to do more harm than good.

At a previous startup I founded, we hired an amazingly talented person whom we had to let go only a few months later. We had made the mistake of hiring for talent alone rather than both talent and cohesion with our team.

It’s Not About the Perks

Building great company culture isn’t just having a ping-pong table, free lunches, casual Friday, and after-work beers. Just having these things doesn’t create a positive environment that champions employees, making them feel good about their success.

Don’t get me wrong, perks like that will reinforce and help build culture if you position yourself to take advantage of them, but many companies don’t take the trouble to do that.

The reason companies have these perks is to retain awesome employees that can get the job done. If these employees aren’t committed to the company, than the perks won’t do much to help you succeed.

The company mission is the place to start, and founders are responsible for leading the way.

Do you believe company culture starts with you? What are ways to infuse an awesome company culture into your business?

Spencer Fry is a 29-year-old entrepreneur who considers himself “a business guy turned programmer.” Spencer is the Co-founder & CEO of Uncover. Uncover is everything you need to start and run an employee recognition program for your company. When Spencer isn’t working, he’s enjoying squash, soccer, cooking, music, and art.