A lot has been written on companies’ culture: essays, thesis, even blog posts. Most are focused on keeping your company’s culture while going through strong growth phases but few are actually interested in defining the company’s culture since its early stages.

It’s hard to dedicate some time to think about a company’s culture at the early stages when most founders are trying to develop product or getting traction but it certainly pays off to think about the governing foundations that your startup will be built upon. This doesn’t need to be anything formal like a set of guidelines to be learnt by heart by every team member but at least a set of principles that the founders agree to follow and communicate.

This is important and it may become extremely helpful to make critical decisions on a daily basis. Though choices may become simpler when you remind yourself of what values guide you.

The difficulty with defining a company’s culture is that despite whatever set of principles you decide to adopt, part of a company’s culture will actually be derived by the founders’ own values and principles.

What the founders actually do on a daily basis, what their core values are, what attitudes guide them will in the end have more influence in the company’s culture than a set of guidelines written on the wall. Whatever the principles that you agree on, a company’s culture is defined over the simplest interactions that happen among all those involved with the company.

A request for action, a reply to a customer review, a feedback to a supplier, all these simple actions and the way they are dealt with actually define your company culture. The interactions and the way most issues are dealt with will be followed and copied in a certain way by the first company employees that will eventually pass on the same methods to their future co workers.

It is therefore extremely important to keep this in mind through the early stages of the company as each action, decision and personal exchange will define step by step a common culture.

Despite whatever tactics you might decide to apply to define your start up’s culture, it’s extremely important that you actually walk the talk as in the end your company will have, whether you like it or not, your own DNA.


Article By Rui Rodrigues