During Jakt’s early years, I remember how invested and focused I was on sales.
I really believe that, while they should always be a priority, they require even more of your time and effort until you have reached your first revenue milestone.
Should you be architecting the business machine at the same time? Absolutely. You still need to be designing and creating your systems from the jump. But sales is the fuel that gets the machine fired up.
But once you have the engine going, you’re at a very critical point in your company’s growth.
What brought you here won’t take you to the next level. It’s time to find the right people, and foster a culture that supports your business growth and lets you scale.
The thing is, that requires a different skill set that you needed until now. And many business owners and entrepreneurs struggle to make that transition.
I sure did. Here’s what happened:
A few years ago, Jakt was going through one of our lowest points –and I did too.
Due to a variety of reasons, almost half the team left the company in about a month and a half.
It felt like Mike Tyson punched me in the face. And it messed with me on an emotional level. I started avoiding the issue at work while obsessing over it privately.
What was it? What could it be that was driving people out?
I really had to take a hard look at myself as a leader. It wasn’t easy or a 1-day thing. It was a process of self-awareness that doesn’t necessarily have a finish line.
I wrote in this article how I moved from being transactional towards my team to people-centered. And from emotional to accountable.
I also started studying companies that inspired me and that I could take learnings from. And what I found from these businesses that had stood the test of time was impactful.
ALL their Founders and CEOs shared the same two things as the main success drivers of building a company that lasts:
People and Culture.
I’ve never worked a 9-5 job. So it’s hard for me to grasp what makes an employee happy and fulfilled. If you’re a lifelong entrepreneur, you might be facing the same issue.
From the start, I wanted to make Jakt a company where I would work at myself.
When I take stock of the individuals that have grown with the organization, I notice we share a very similar set of values.
And not just professional, but also on a human level.
Things like the way they treat people and their level of respect. Even their relationship with money. These are all important.
As the business owner or CEO, your team is the foundation that will support your growth. You need talented people, but also human beings whose values are all aligned.
I’ll write about this in the future (stay tuned – opt-in on the form below), but here’s something we do at Jakt to make sure those values are protected:
Every new potential employee that goes through the interview process has to take a cultural interview. This is not about how skilled they are or to learn more about their previous experience.
Instead, we quickly explain our core values as a company and ask them to share a moment in time where they did NOT live up to them.
Then, we rule out those people with huge red flags as we don’t think they personally share those attributes. We might be missing on some great talent, but it’s worked pretty well for us.
Why do I/we care so much about our values? Because they are the bedrock that will determine your…
In hindsight, I had no idea what it meant to “foster a company culture.” Or even just what people meant by “culture.”
I knew I had to do it, but how? *crickets*
So I just went back to doing what I saw in the startup world: drinks after work and all that shit. Yeah, apparently that by itself doesn’t work –who would’ve known?
There’s much more to it, and it will be crucial for your business moving forward.
In fact, I recently asked my team why were they staying at the company. Between other things, people and culture were two elements shared by everyone.
And it works in a very similar fashion than a sports team. No matter how good your players are, your culture often is the main factor in whether you win or not.
I used to think that, if a person was contributing and doing their part, they didn’t need to be a culture fit. Now, however, I understand that the long-term play is to prioritize the culture above all else.
What’s more, you have to preserve the company’s culture to grow. And every single person you let in will shift it –so it will evolve over time.
The earliest hires you make will scale the most through the company’s culture. And that makes sense, right?
Because, when you go from 100 to 101 employees, your culture will change 1%. But when you go from 4 to 5, you’ll shift it 20%!
And remember, it starts at the top. As the business owner, you have to be the leading Sherpa that marks the pace as you climb up the mountain.
If you are slacking, your team will too. If you accept mediocrity, that will quickly become the new standard. And if you don’t hold people accountable, no one will.
So, I hope this post helps you on your journey and show you the importance of people and culture when growing a business.
People and Culture Takeaway:
- Bring together a team of high-performers and then give them room to grow –while keeping them accountable.
- Make sure your values as human being and professionals are aligned throughout your team. They are the foundation of your company’s culture and need to be protected.
- Fostering a positive company culture is what allows your people to be in the best environment for them to excel. As the leader, it’s your job to 1) safeguard it when hiring new employees, and 2) set an example.