by: Tormod Holmedahl Stikbakke
Head of Business Development

What is culture?

Culture is a big term with different meanings to different people and in different circumstances. It can be defined as the shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterizes an institution or organization. In a business, the culture is what guides how the workplace is going to be.  

What is startup-culture?

Many people see freedom, ping-pong-tables, happy hours and having to act like “one big happy family” when they think about startup-culture. But that is not what defines startups culture. Four in five job seekers consider a company’s vision and mission before accepting a job. Mission and vision, the fundamentals of what a company is trying to achieve, is one of the most important aspects of a startup. Mission and vision is something both startups and established companies have. However, in startups with few people there are a big opportunity to set the culture for years to come. It is much harder to set a new course when it comes to culture within an established company. 

Why is culture important for a startup?

Culture is important, also for a startup. Former LinkedIn-CEO Jeff Weiner stepped in as CEO when the company had 400 employees. With 400 employees, LinkedIn was already a pretty big company, but what he did relates to startups as well. He spent the majority of his time in the beginning going over the company’s vision and mission. What he recognized as important was that most of his work would be focused on setting the company’s culture moving forward. This focus on culture, as well as leading by example, is important for startups with only a few employees as well, because the leader is who sets the standard for everyone else.

How do we set a team culture?

Write down your company’s vision. What is the most important thing your company is trying to succeed on, and what is your ideal work environment? When you have established what you want the culture to be, it’s a never-ending work to uphold that culture. Especially when a company is growing and hiring new people, having a clear culture is important to align the new hires with that of the existing people in the company.

How to establish a culture of professionalism when you don’t have the money yet to pay your employees a competitive salary?

Think about what it looks like if your company is successful. When can people expect to be paid and what milestones do we need to reach in order to achieve the goal of salaries to more people? You can both want to attract idealistic people who like your vision and have a goal of paying them. Everybody needs to get a salary from somewhere, so the best situation is if you have motivated, and capable people working for you and get paid for doing so. That way they can spend more time on your company.