The Importance of Culture When Starting Up

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Author and CEO of The Container Store
2 min read
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Q: Most of the startup are only focused on one thing: survival. How important is culture to a startup? 
-Kenny Lee Chia Chern

A: I love what famed management consultant Peter Drucker has said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” 

Culture actually drives the value of the business.  Culture and the bottom line are not, and should not, be at odds.  Having a stronger culture is not a sacrifice to profits.  In fact, it’s quite the contrary: The companies that are best thought to have strong, conscious cultures and represent the tenets of "Conscious Capitalism" -- a model focused on advancing humanity, while using established business principles -- are shown to outperform the S&P 500 Index 14 to 1 over 15 years.

Related: For Zady, It's Quality Over Quantity

Relationships between your stakeholders – how they feel about each other – is a huge part of how a company’s culture manifests itself…of how the company “feels.”  And when you’ve developed strong, mutually beneficial relationships with vendors, customers and employees from the start, all of these stakeholders we'll conspire to assist you.  They want to see you win.  They trust you and you trust them.  They’re even more vested in your success and want to be a part of it.  These actions lead to a stronger bottom line. 

Related: The 7 New Business Facts Of Life For Entrepreneurs

And laying the groundwork for a strong, unified, communication-driven, supportive and fun culture at the start is much easier to do than, say, turning the barge around in a river once the company has grown and expanded.  Not that over the years a company’s culture can’t and won’t evolve…it will and it should.  But if it has grounding from the start, if it binds people together, you’re setting the company up for greater success in the future.

Operating this way not only enriches your life and the lives of the people you do business with, but if all you want to do is make as much money as humanly possible then I would submit to you, that this is the way to do it.

Related: A Look Into Entrepreneurial Approaches to Social Change

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