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5 Strategies for Building the Ultimate Company Culture

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When I hired my first team of 3 people, I issued them a challenge. I told them, “whatever we do together now is going to set the tone for the culture we have as the company grows. So, let’s be intentional about it.” Don’t wait until your Startup is growing exponentially before you get clear about your workplace culture. Your culture has a significant impact on your company’s ultimate success, so start defining it today before you end up with one by default.

Here are 5 strategies to help you.

1. Give Them Something To Care About. 

When people have a sense of purpose in their work, they are more likely to be engaged and committed to the company. A 2019 study by Cone/Porter Novelli showed that 83% of Generation Z (those born between 1997-2015) consider a company’s purpose when making job decisions. Other studies reflect a trend toward wanting meaningful work and I would venture to say that since 2020 that trend has only increased and spans generations. 

Founding members of startups can tap into this desire by painting a vivid picture of the kind of company they want to have. This means focusing not just on what you do, but why and how you do it. 

Answer the following questions. How do your products or services make a difference? What’s your purpose beyond profit? What impact do you want to have on your customers, your community, or the world? Who do you want to work with? How will your team work together? What kinds of experiences do you want to have? 

How will working for you give your team members a sense of doing something greater than themselves? Answer those questions  as specifically as possible and you’re on your way to building a culture that fuels passion and focus.

2. Promote Your Purpose.

The problem with most organizations is that they spend an enormous amount of time defining their mission, vision, and values, launch them in some elaborate way and never talk about them again. Don’t be like those companies. Keep your vision and values alive and well by repeatedly promoting them internally and externally.

Spend time at the beginning of each team meeting discussing one aspect of your vision statement or the core value of the week. Or, if meetings aren’t your thing, bring the topics up weekly on your startups social media or communication channels. Ask team members to participate in (or better yet, lead) the conversation. 

At the end of each day, week, or project swap stories that exemplify your purpose and your desired culture. Share them with your team and share them with your customers. In fact, the more you promote how your people are living out your core values, the more you’ll instill a sense of pride and a desire to create more stories worth celebrating. 

“Company culture is the backbone of any successful organization.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

3. Hire With Your Culture In Mind.

With every person you hire, your culture either gets better or worse. So, it’s essential that you deliberately recruit people who completely buy in and compliment the rest of your team. This means being as intentional about your hiring process as you are about your culture. 

To begin with, promoting your culture externally will attract the best candidates. You might send all applicants your written vision and values and ask them to consider them carefully before requesting an interview. If they come back to you excited, proceed to the next step. 

Ask values-based questions like “One of our company values is Mastery. Tell me about a time when you went the extra mile to truly master something important to you. How would you apply that experience to this job?”

Involve others on your team in the interview process. Give finalists time to spend with people on the team before you officially bring them on board. Thumbs up or down – are they a fit for your culture. 

One word of warning. A cultural fit does NOT mean that everyone is alike. In fact, diversity of thought, gender, race, generation, etc. makes for a very rich culture indeed. I once had two candidates I was carefully considering. One was upbeat, enthusiastic, and oozed positivity, just like the rest of my team. The other was also upbeat, but a little quieter and more thoughtful and deliberate. Both were equally qualified. A co-worker asked, “Candidate A is more like us, but do we really want another person exactly like us?” I hired Candidate B, and it was one of the best hires I ever made. 

4. Invest In Your Onboarding Process

The way you bring new people on your team sets the stage for how quickly they will engage in your company culture. Even if you are only bringing on one person at a time, roll  out the red carpet and give them the best onboarding experience they’ve ever had. 

Plan their first two weeks with exceptional detail. Provide them with an agenda of where they’ll go, who they’ll spend time with, and what they’ll do. Expose them to as many co-workers and experiences as possible. Create an onboarding adventure that includes hands-on experiences, in-person and virtual education, involvement in meetings and traditions, and with a little bit of paperwork if necessary. Touch on the four core elements of effective onboarding: Culture, Connection, Communication, and Compliance. 

5. Cultivate Connection. 

Show me a workplace where colleagues feel connected, and I’ll show you a strong company culture. Regardless of whether you all work in the same office or are spread out throughout the world, you can build strong coworking relationships. . 

Get everyone together for an in-person meeting once or twice a year. Use that time to get really focused on specific topics like sales & marketing, customer experience, or the future of (insert your company name here). However, also build in time for “getting to know you” activities and team outings! 

Use your virtual communication channels to create connections between team members. Photo icebreakers are a quick and easy way to allow people to get to know one another. Have people post photos of their lunch, their favorite possession, or their bucket list items on your team social media page or Slack channel.

Encourage weekly calls with a coworker, and randomly pair people together for a 15-minute conversation. The more colleagues know each other as people, the better they will collaborate. 

Finally, be open to edits. As Founders, you should be clear about the kind of workplace you want to cultivate going forward. However, as you grow, ask for input from your team to continually refresh and improve your company culture. 

Donna Cutting is a workplace culture consultant and the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Worldwide, and the author of 3 books including the forthcoming Employees First! Inspire, Engage, and Focus on the HEART of Your Organization, (Red Wheel/Weiser, 2022). She’s been named one of the Top 30 Global Gurus in Customer Service (2020, 2021) and in Organizational Culture (2021). Donna and her team work with organizations to create cultures of happy, caring people who deliver red carpet customer service. Visit her website at www.redcarpetlearning.com and get video tips at www.theredcarpetway.tv

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Entrepreneurs

How Entrepreneurs Are Harnessing LLCs to Launch Successful Startups

LLCs have unique advantages for starting up and growing a successful business

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why you should set up an LLC

In my entrepreneurial journey, I’ve learned that LLCs have unique advantages for starting up and growing a successful business. But, before delving into the advantages, it’s essential to grasp the fundamentals of what an LLC is and how it operates. 

What is an LLC?

An LLC is a hybrid business entity that combines the liability protection of a corporation with the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship. This unique blend provides entrepreneurs with the best of both worlds: personal asset protection and simplified taxation.

One of the most significant advantages of an LLC is its limited liability feature. This means that as the owner, my personal assets are shielded from any liabilities or debts incurred by the business.

In the event of lawsuits or financial obligations, only the assets of the LLC are at risk, offering me peace of mind and protecting my personal wealth.

Advantages of Forming an LLC

Flexibility in Management and Structure

Another aspect of the LLC that appealed to me was its flexibility in management and structure. Unlike corporations, which have rigid hierarchies and formalities, LLCs allow for a more relaxed approach to governance. As the founder, I have the freedom to structure the company in a way that suits the needs and goals of my startup.

For instance, LLCs can choose to be managed by their members (owners) or appoint a manager to oversee operations. This flexibility enables me to maintain full control of the business or delegate management responsibilities to trusted individuals while retaining ownership.

Additionally, LLCs are not bound by strict meeting requirements or extensive record-keeping obligations, reducing administrative burdens and allowing me to focus on building and growing the business.

Pass-Through Taxation and Financial Efficiency

One of the most attractive features of an LLC, particularly for startups, is its pass-through taxation. Unlike corporations, which are subject to double taxation (taxation at both the corporate and individual levels), LLCs pass profits and losses directly to their members’ personal tax returns.

This tax efficiency not only simplifies the filing process but also allows for greater flexibility in managing cash flow and reinvesting profits back into the business. As an entrepreneur, minimizing tax liabilities and maximizing financial efficiency are critical components of long-term success, and the pass-through taxation feature of an LLC aligns perfectly with these objectives.

Enhanced Credibility and Professionalism

Establishing an LLC can also enhance the credibility and professionalism of a startup. Unlike sole proprietorships or general partnerships, which may be perceived as informal or less legitimate, an LLC provides a formal business structure that instills confidence in customers, investors, and partners.

By operating under the umbrella of an LLC, I can present my startup as a reputable and established entity, which can open doors to opportunities such as securing financing, attracting top talent, and forging strategic partnerships.

This enhanced credibility can be a significant advantage, particularly in competitive industries or when seeking to differentiate my startup in the market.

Protection of Intellectual Property and Brand Assets

For startups built around innovative ideas or unique intellectual property, protecting these assets is paramount. An LLC offers an additional layer of protection for intellectual property and brand assets, safeguarding them from infringement or unauthorized use.

By registering trademarks, copyrights, or patents under the name of the LLC, I can establish legal ownership and enforce my rights more effectively in the event of disputes or infringement claims. This protection not only preserves the value of my intellectual property but also enhances the overall stability and longevity of the startup.

Steps to Form an LLC

Let us now look at the general steps to form an LLC for your business:

Step 1: Choose a Name for Your LLC

Selecting a unique and distinguishable name is the first step in forming an LLC. Ensure that the name you choose complies with the rules set by your state’s LLC division. Typically, the name must end with “Limited Liability Company,” “LLC,” or an abbreviation of these terms.

Additionally, the name should not infringe on the trademarks of existing businesses.

Step 2: Designate a Registered Agent

A registered agent is an individual or entity appointed to receive legal documents, such as lawsuits or subpoenas, on behalf of the LLC. The registered agent must have a physical address within the state where the LLC is formed.

For instance, if you are forming an LLC in Texas, ensure that your registered agent has a physical address in Texas.

This role is crucial for ensuring that the LLC remains compliant with legal requirements and maintains good standing.

Step 3: File Articles of Organization

The Articles of Organization, also known as a Certificate of Formation or Certificate of Organization in some states, is a document that formally establishes the LLC. You’ll need to submit this document to the appropriate state agency, usually the Secretary of State or Division of Corporations.

The articles typically include basic information such as the LLC’s name, address, registered agent details, and the purpose of the business.

Step 4: Create an Operating Agreement

While not always a legal requirement, drafting an operating agreement is highly recommended for LLCs. This document outlines the ownership structure, management roles, voting rights, profit-sharing arrangements, and other important aspects of the LLC’s operations.

Even if you’re the sole owner of the LLC, having an operating agreement in place can help clarify expectations and prevent disputes in the future.

Step 5: Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

An Employer Identification Number (EIN), also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number, is a unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to identify your LLC for tax purposes.

Even if your LLC doesn’t have employees, obtaining an EIN is necessary for opening a business bank account, filing taxes, and conducting other financial transactions.

Step 6: Obtain Necessary Permits and Licenses

Depending on the nature of your business and its location, you may need to obtain various permits, licenses, or certifications to operate legally. These requirements can vary widely from one industry and jurisdiction to another. Common examples include business licenses, zoning permits, health permits, and professional licenses.

In my entrepreneurial journey, the decision to establish my startups as LLCs has been instrumental in mitigating risks, optimizing financial performance, and positioning my ventures for long-term success.

By harnessing the advantages of the LLC structure, I’ve been able to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship with confidence and resilience, laying the groundwork for a bright and prosperous future.

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Entrepreneurs

Build a Strong IT Team with These Smart Hiring Tips

Without dedicated IT staff, your company may not be able to function as efficiently or effectively

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Hiring tips for tech industry

The role of IT staff in your company is not only essential but also ever-evolving. As your business grows, so does the need for qualified IT staff and more robust recruiting solutions.

After all, from maintaining and troubleshooting the computer systems that keep your business running smoothly, IT staff also help employees stay connected and productive by providing technical support at all times. (more…)

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Entrepreneurs

5 Important Legal Tips Every Entrepreneur Should Know

With a firm commitment to legal knowledge, you pave the way to grow your business sustainably

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legal tips for entrepreneurs

Embarking on the entrepreneurial path is a courageous venture that calls for a diverse skill set to achieve enduring success.

While creativity, drive, and strategic vision are paramount, integrating legal insight into your entrepreneurial toolkit can be a game-changer.

This comprehensive guide delves deeper into the five critical steps that can empower you to navigate the intricate legal landscape and propel your venture toward prosperity. (more…)

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Entrepreneurs

6 Hacks to Boost Your Productivity as a Business Owner

To improve how much you get done each day, it’s smart to establish routines and use careful planning

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productivity for business owners

Entrepreneurs are always looking for ways to get more done with the time and resources they have. Business owners can use clever productivity tricks to break these limits and make the most of their projects. (more…)

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