How To Set Your Startup Attitude

y-combinator-young-disciplesWhether you have successfully started a company (props to you!) or you are thinking about starting a business in the near future (equal prop!), Jessica Lawrence over at Harvard Business Review has crafted some excellent advice your start-up venture. Lawrence points out that most startup cultures are essentially the same as the huge granddaddy organizations where rows of employees sit in cubicles typing their lives away. She makes a basic plea: To all the entrepreneurs and CEOs of the world, it is you that has the power to not only create innovative products, but more importantly, create innovative and positive work environments.

Here’s how:

1. Keep culture in focus.

Yes startups must focus on their product(s) or service, and yes of course they must focus on the dollars coming in – BUT, keeping a company’s culture a positive and innovative one must be at the top of the list. Many startups may have a great culture initially, but as they grow they begin to lose sight of maintaining a great culture because profits and shareholders become a priority. Keeping the people happy and having a positive work environment is the key to not only keeping employees productive, but also attracting new talent and keeping the company growing. Happy place = happy people = $$$.

2. Love what you do.

What’s the most important thing for developing a successful business or startup? Money? Capital? Experience? Talent? Yes, these things are obviously important, but what’s even more crucial is being passionate about what you do. Starting a business or company is going to require you to work tirelessly. If you don’t actually enjoy it, it’s going to be torturous. Loving what you do will be the key to developing a great idea. As Ms. Lawrence eloquently states, “You don’t have to try too hard to develop a profitable product because you love doing it.”

3. Don’t power trip. Sometimes you just have to let go a little bit.

Those who start a company may not be the best to move it forward. Often, the founders who develop the initial successful idea don’t know how to manage a company’s growth.  Can you blame them though? At least this is a great problem to have: owning a company and its growing uncontrollably. Just be willing to get some help and give up a little bit of power and responsibility.

4. Be Extreme – in moderation.

One of the biggest perceptions in the startup world is that those who can’t work a literally inhumane amount of hours just aren’t fit. Ms. Lawrence points out that this attitude is extremely unfair and just plain unhealthy. Suicides (YES, suicides) and serious depression have been an unpleasant occurrence of well-known startup founders. Is it too much to ask for a regular 40-hour work week? Force yourself to say no.

(image via Nickpoint)


by Derrick Huey