“Extraordinary things begin to happen when we dare to bring all of who we are to work.” ― Frederic Laloux
At Perennial Culture, there is nothing that makes us happier than a leader and group that prioritizes culture in the early stages of development.
Why this partnership?
According to a study by the Small Business Administration in 2019, 90% of startups fail.
21.5% fail in the first year, 30% in the second year, 50% in the fifth year, and 70% in the tenth year. Over time, it’s important to ask: why do these startups fail consistently?
The organization’s founding team in the early stages is one of the most powerful aspects of the company. Your team's ability to communicate and work together can be the difference between scaling your company to success and cascading your business into failure.
Tim Sutherns at Digital Water Solutions Inc. shared, 'People and culture will play a significant part in the success of our company. We want individuals that are self-starters, excited by the value proposition the company provides to its clients, and that love the work they do on a daily basis.'
Beyond those top two cultural challenges, here are the others that come into play -
- Culture clash - not being able to bring people together in effective ways.
- Lack of direction/vision - not sure where we are going and always going towards the next shiny object.
- Internal alignment - developing new roles and founding new departments and asking yourself, are your people laser-focused on the right things?
- Decision-making - how is the organization moving forward? How are decisions being made?
- Communication problems, inability to surface issues and handle conflicts in a progressive way.
- Reducing dependencies on the founding team.
- Burnout - are we addressing everyone's well-being?
These are all cultural challenges that you will face as the organization looks to scale and grow and that's why having a solid cultural foundation is essential to your start-up's success!
The BREW 2.0 is the perfect time to start thinking and designing a cultural foundation. At this point, the start-ups participating have laid the groundwork, launched a product, and are now ready for the market and to scale. This means they will need to hire and bring new faces into the company. Leaders will have to take on new roles and lead new teams. They will need to expand their operations, make decisions differently, and face new challenges as the company scales. Most importantly, pre-funded organizations need to build high levels of engagement and confidence within the organization. We spoke about this before in our "Understanding your roadblocks" article. Research shows that companies that receive funding typically have employees that are more engaged, more confident in the company, have a deeper sense of belief in the leaders, and feel a culture of innovation.
Karen Frost, VP of Economic Development & Innovation at The Water Council shares; “Supporting late-stage startups naturally extends to helping build and equip strong and healthy startup teams. That is why we prioritize exposing and equipping our startup teams with culture basics during the BREW 2.0 program. Culture and founder wellness go hand in hand and are essential for successful and peak-performing startup teams!”
The reality is this: as soon as you have a team, a culture will begin to form. It’s the language you share with each other, the habits and day-to-day practices, the tone of your interactions, how you work together to develop your product, and how you interact with your customers. These all contribute to and shape the culture.
The question is, how can start-ups build a strong cultural foundation that sets them up to thrive and sustain over time?
To do this, Zech Dahms, the founder and lead culture strategist at Perennial Culture facilitated a session using their culture design framework that is powered by Virtuositeam's & BRATLAB's Behavior Change Model.
This model has been extremely powerful because conceptualizing a solution for our cultures is hard to understand and conceive. We need a model that simplifies our cultures to our understanding so we can act appropriately.
Using this framework and the different powers of influence, the start-ups participating in the accelerator were able to brainstorm and design the initial steps and practices they can use to nourish their culture and bring it to life.
Some comments from the participating groups include:
"Innovation as the basis for future growth only works with people who think for themselves and a corporate culture that allows and encourages this. Both together are a necessary prerequisite for successful development." - Wolfgang Vogl @ Vienna Water Monitoring Solutions (VWMS)
“People in SWT are the cornerstones of any success we have and in order to build a good working environment, we ensure that co-creation is the company culture that we follow” - Karthik Laxman Kunjali @ Stockholm Water Technology AB
“Culture plays the most critical role in our success. We hope to both inspire and be inspired by those we hire and engage with.” - Nigel Sharp @ Aquagga Inc.
Huge shoutout to these founders & start-ups for initiating their cultural foundations. We are so excited to see what comes as you start your own cultural evolution journeys.