Startups Should Balance Sustainable Growth & Company’s Culture


How would you define a startup? It is a small team where everyone is driven to play their part, racing against time and working towards one common mission with immense excitement and enthusiasm. 

As the business matures, every startup is faced with concerns of sustaining the initial euphoria and attracting and retaining its top talent. At that point in time, it becomes very important to strike the right balance between sustainable growth and a culture that reflects the company’s values. 

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While it sounds simple, many emerging businesses struggle to find this balance.

Company culture goes beyond glitz and glamour. It is what leaders discover, craft and foster and is the heart and pulse of any organisation.

Here’s how a startup can strike the right balance between sustainable growth and the right kind of company culture.

Building the culture story. The birth of an organisational culture stems from the vision of the founder and encompasses the purpose, ethics, values and guiding principles of doing business. However, culture should be beyond just defining values – it is about bringing them to life. For example, recruiting candidates not just for competence but those who display these values, recognising not just the business milestone but the daily stories of living these values. 

Think big, stay small. The size and scale of an organisation should not kill the entrepreneurial mindset of employees, but build responsive teams comprising individuals contributing to company’s core vision. For example, institutionalizing policies as the company becomes larger is key, yet the agility to deal with unique situations.

Structuring teams at the right levels, optimal spans of control, decision rights and accountability need to be reviewed periodically without seeping in bureaucracy or maintaining too much control centrally.

Focus on learning and development. In a challenging business environment, learning and upskilling are a constant. While large-scale companies continuously invest in structured L&D programmes, for startups this is viewed more as a cost centre. 

Another area where startups struggle is to identify interventions areas for its mid and top management. The most successful startups are those which early in their life cycle invest in its talent by making time rather than budgets and develop programmes.

It is important to remember that the success of a business does not lie in the victory of overcoming market challenges, the soaring revenues and profits. It is the people that make winning teams and organisations. This recognition and acknowledgment are key to building a sustainable business. 

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