As a start-up gets off the ground, it has a short-lived opportunity to decide how it wants to do business. With each new hire, company culture becomes more entrenched and somewhere after two dozen employees, it tends to cement. Establish a set of genuine values before your start-up gets too complex. Articulate a coherent philosophy about who you are and how you will work.

Also be clear about who you aren’t and what you won’t do. This will make decisions easier and ultimately improve results. Rather than analysing each new decision afresh, you’ll have a common foundation from which to make them. If you don’t do this deliberately when your organisation is young, the culture will (often rigidly) form itself.

(Adapted from Four Things to Get Right When Starting a Company by Bruce Gibney and Ken Howery. Harvard Business Review)

(This article was published on August 30, 2012)
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