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Don’t Just Invest in Software, Invest in Culture

August 19, 2016

8:00 pm

In the next year, technology spending is estimated to increase by just over half a percent. And last year, tech spending worldwide decreased by nearly 6 percent. With reduced spending, companies — especially startups — should look beyond technology to increase productivity in the workplace.

One of the best ways to do this is to instill an entrepreneurial spirit in all of your employees. Create a company culture that brings employees together and makes them excited to come to work. Developing a unique work environment doesn’t have to cost extra money; it just requires a strong dedication to the cause.

81 percent of people believe a company lacking a great, productive culture will never be more than mediocre. Many startup employees have fled stifling corporations, so use this opportunity to create an environment that encourages collaboration and creativity.

Creating Culture Is Like Building a Relationship

Fostering a great company culture is a lot like dating. Just like when you’re dating, you need to make sure you’re attracting the kind of people you enjoy spending time with. And sometimes, you need to know when it’s time to call it quits. Here are four steps to develop the right relationship with your company culture:

Swipe right on the right people.

Make sure you’re hiring the kind of people who fit into your company’s culture. It’s easier to be motivated when you like the people you work with. According to Gallup, increasing employee engagement boosts productivity and profitability by at least 20 percent. When you create a culture that encourages questions and creative solutions, you’ll also create loyalty — with employees and customers.

Don’t be afraid of commitment.

At my company, we’re so committed to company culture that we’ve hired a VP of culture, developed an amazing office space, and created a central nervous system of communication. These details make everyone want to be at work.

The cornerstone of our company culture, though, is our Forum Program: 10 cross-departmental teams that collaborate throughout the year to benefit both the company and the community. Put your company’s culture above everything — it not only motivates employees, but it also helps your bottom line.

Know when it’s over.

Accept the fact that not every person or position will grow with your startup. Establish a process that is non-combative and strengthens the remaining employees. When possible, circumvent firings by rewarding individuals who are intuitive and take ownership of their roles. When low-performing employees see this, their own entrepreneurial spirit may kick in, helping both themselves and the company.

Be your best self.

As the CEO, remember that culture starts with you. Think of yourself as a coach, and work hard to know your employees. When you understand them, you will figure out how they stay motivated, what you can do to support them, and how you can help them be their best.

As a leader, it’s important to collaborate with all departments to learn what could improve company culture. It may be as simple as improving your workspace. Since moving into our new downtown San Diego office, all of our teams have increased their efficiency and productivity. In fact, our tech team reduced its deployment cycle time by 62 percent during our first month in the new space.

As you grow your company, there will be plenty of time to invest in great software. While your startup is expanding, however, nurture it just like a young relationship. Nothing can replace a strong, entrepreneurial work culture — productivity software is just icing on the cake.

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Jason Kulpa is the CEO of Underground Elephant, one of the nation’s premier customer acquisition solutions companies for leading brands. By leveraging proprietary next-generation marketing automation technology, Underground Elephant is able to provide the highest-quality direct response solutions at unprecedented scale.

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