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Why company culture is essential to startup success

Why company culture is essential to startup success
Howard Woolf

By Howard Woolf

05 Mar 2020

Company culture is often characterised as a “feeling” within your business; a shared outlook across your teams, regardless of their department or role; a set of common values that your employees demonstrate at work.

A positive company culture will reflect the values of your brand and result in a positive, productive working atmosphere that gets the best out of your people and helps to propel the business forward.

Why is company culture so important for startups?

A great culture in a startup or SME can help you to standout in your industry, attract the best talent and accelerate the success of your business. Larger companies can afford higher rates of staff turnover and other effects of a negative corporate culture but SMEs cannot, so it is vital to start on the right track.

It takes time and effort to build and maintain a good company culture, particularly in startups, where the business is continuously changing and evolving – but long term, it is worth it.

How will a positive corporate culture benefit your business?

1. Increase productivity

A positive culture will ensure that employees feel happy, engaged and valued as individuals, all of which contribute to a higher rate of job satisfaction. In turn, your employees feel more motivated and become invested in the company and its future, which pushes employees to be more productive, thereby driving growth.

2. It helps to attract and retain talent

Cultivating a vibrant startup culture is essential to attracting and, crucially, retaining the best talent in your industry.

Anyone that joins a startup is taking a risk on a company whose success is as yet undetermined. A positive and stable culture has proven to be a highly attractive quality for job seekers, particularly for Millennials and Gen Zs.

Furthermore, demonstrating that you will take on board your team’s feedback is a crucial factor for retaining your top performing employees. If you give your team the ability to make a real impact in your business, they can envision their own careers growing alongside the business, which helps to build loyalty.

3. It gives you investor appeal

When it comes to seeking investment, having a strong company culture can be a great differentiator for your startup. Investors are looking for a return, and a company that demonstrates that their employees have a strong bond and shared vision will increase their confidence in the team and the business itself, making it an altogether more attractive opportunity.

What can you do to start building your company culture?

It can be difficult to decide where to start building your own culture. We’ve taken a look back at the conscious choices that Gerald Edelman has made to help strengthen our own company culture to give you some inspiration.

1. Identify your company values and consistently communicate them to your team

Although this is quite an obvious step, it is vital to consider this in the early stages of your company’s development. Then, you can instil the same set of values in your employees and your team will be working towards a shared goal.

At GE, our main goal is to have a positive impact with every client and internal team interaction. Although that sounds like a simple feat, it takes a conscious daily effort and focus so that eventually, it becomes who we are and the way we operate.

2. Genuinely listen to your team

By continually taking on feedback from employees and acting upon it, your team will inevitably feel that they are making an impact on the company and that their opinions are held in high regard. Whether it pertains to wellbeing, recruitment practices or benefits, this shows your team that your company is invested in them on a personal and professional level.

Additionally, identify your rising stars and open a dialogue with them; these talented individuals are the future leaders of your company and will help to bring in new ideas, creating a culture of innovation.

At GE, we have opened key channels of communication, which allow the team to give their feedback to senior leadership. For example, our Team Liaison Committee allows employees to submit suggestions to improve any aspect of life at GE, thus aiding employee retention.

3. Host regular social events

Regular socials encourage team bonding outside of the workplace, which can greatly improve working relationships, particularly across departments that don’t often communicate. Your company culture will benefit many times over.

At GE, we host pub quizzes, darts, a summer rally and so much more throughout the year. The aim is to involve everyone, break down barriers and build friendships and trust.


Company culture will always be specific to your business, your sector and you as an entrepreneur. The key point to consider is that your team are your best advocates – whether dealing with clients, suppliers, or their peers – so you should have a flexible approach and shape your culture to best suit the requirements of your teams, whilst maintaining your brand and mission statement. This will ensure you have the most productive, motivated and valued workforce, helping you to drive the growth and success of your startup.


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