Startup or Business?
“The surest road to failure, is to try to be all things to all people.”
- Achieved great growth, that can be expected to continue.
- Easily attracts financial and people resources.
- Depending on vision, mission and commitments, will continue to grow and often try to culturally continue ‘like a startup’.
- Founders and/or investors make exit(s) or continue with the company.
According to Fasil Hoque, a established (sustainable) startup is made up of seven elements:
- Authentic Purpose: Clear vision, value, differentiated, and consistent.
- Powerful Brand: Compelling, targeted, relationship-oriented.
- Partnerships & Collaboration: Doing everything yourself can be damaging.
- Customer Retention: A lifetime of relations (more cost effective).
- Community: A structure that supports the business & community.
- Repeatable Sales: Build a platform and sales process.
- Adaptive (flexible) Leadership: Keep evolving (investing) at the right pace.
One might argue that intrinsic value is the secret to success.
NOTE: video starts & stops at pre-assigned times
According to Patrick Collison (Co-founder Stripe), culture is a resolution to a bandwidth problem, in the sense that when you start out working on a startup, you might be coding all the time. However, you can’t code all the things that you think the product may need. Therefore, the organization gets larger. However, as the startup grows, founders get specifically involved in fewer and fewer decisions over time. When you think about it that way, the importance becomes self-evident… the fraction of things a founder can be involved in directly, is diminishing exponentially as the startup grows.
According to John Collinson (Co-founder Stripe), Stripe changed tools when they were scaling the culture. Earlier it was the case that people could keep abreast of what’s happening in the company by reading all the email. However, due to growth, Stripe now have weekly All Hands On Deck (AHM) meetings.
The purpose of the ‘All Hands On Deck’ meeting is quite simply to stir genuine emotion into their employees. In a AHM, the leaders speak about the current and future state of the company. The leader also continuously presents a vision of where they have been, and where they are going. This is a way of getting out the compass, setting a course, and telling people how the company is going to get to that distant goal.
Stripe have actually put a lot of work into communicating what is going on in the company, since due to fast growth, there is so much more to manage. You also have to create social norms with such obvious things as; what is confidential within Stripe, when it is okay to jump into discussions, how interactions with people work (communicating with outsiders etc.).
Stripe has also placed a large emphasis on transparency internally. John thinks it’s something that’s been really valuable for Stripe, and a little bit misunderstood. The founders think that if your people are aligned on a high-level about what Stripe is doing, if everyone really believes in the mission, if everyone has really good access to information, and everyone has a good picture of the current state of Stripe, then that gets you a huge amount of the way there in terms of working productively together.
Another important lesson learned during the rapid growth of Stripe, was how important it is to get new employees up and running as quickly as possible, in order that they can do their work. That experience has also been a good way to discover problems. Stripe have a much more, ‘push people off the cliff’ style of working however, they also try to quickly give new people feedback, especially giving new employees feedback on how to adapt to the culture. ‘If you have built a strong culture, as all the companies are trying to, it’s going to take some adaption from new individuals, and it’s not going to be necessarily easy. One way to achieve this more effectively is to write the culture down (Stripe do that).
Ben Silbermann (Pinterest)
Patrick & John Collinson (Stripe)
Transparency = working productively together.