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The 3 start-up killers and how to avoid them: advisors to Nitro, DesignCrowd and others tell

Wednesday, 10 September 2014
The 3 start-up killers and how to avoid them: advisors to Nitro, DesignCrowd and others tell

It looks like you’re on a winner. The market loves your product, VCs are calling and you’re into your second round of funding. You’re hiring like crazy, you’re on the growth curve and the future is looking pretty damn good. Now there are new challenges, each one potent enough to kill the growth stone dead.

KILLER #1: A DEGENERATING CULTURE

“It’s not like it used to be when there were just 5 of us?”

Five people is different to 10 and 10 is vastly different to 100, so the working environment is naturally going to change with new people, new personalities and inevitably, a whole bunch of new behaviours. The culture of your enterprise is shifting and if you don’t act to manage it, things can and will degenerate quickly.

One of our good clients and friends, Nitro, a San Francisco-based Australian-founded start-up in the digital documents space, faced the challenge of a rapidly changing culture as they grew significantly and doubled headcount over the past two years. Fortunately, the company’s senior management saw this coming early on, realised the potential dangers, prepared accordingly, and then acted quickly to mitigate any risks.

They realised to get your culture right within a company, you must be deliberate in choosing the type of behaviours required for success. To help do this, Nitro established the ‘Nitro Way’, a handful of very specific statements that clearly lay out what each Nitronaut will and will not do in order to protect, develop, and nurture the company’s core values and culture.

Some examples of these statements include:

1.Performance and results always come first.

2.We do not tolerate bullshit.

3.We will not work in silos. Every team is critical to success.

4.We take our work seriously, but not ourselves (Work Smart, Play Hard).

5.We leave egos and baggage at the door.

6.We treat people with respect. Always.

Read more at BRW