6 Corporate Culture Ideas

After Terminus won the #1 place to work award, several people asked what they do to build such a strong organization. Of course, the core of a great culture is the people, which starts with the values (see Strong Core Values Help Those That Don’t Fit Self Select Out). Yet, establishing values is only one piece of the overall puzzle. The key is to institutionalize programs that strengthen the corporate culture.

Here are six corporate culture ideas:

  1. Align Interview Questions with Core Values
  2. Maintain a Simplified One Page Strategic Plan
  3. Co-Founders are Keepers of the Culture
  4. The Culture-Oriented 7 Step Hiring Process
  5. 3 Must Read Culture Guides for Entrepreneurs
  6. 6 Steps to Build a Culture of Accountability

Corporate culture is intentional and powerful — make it the centerpiece of the company.

What else? What are some more corporate culture ideas?

The Perpetual “Access to Capital” Question

During last week’s panel on sports and technology, the perpetual question came up: how’s the access to capital for startups in Atlanta? I’ve heard this question hundreds of times over the years, both pre and post Atlanta Tech Village. The question is worthwhile, especially as most people asking the question aren’t in the startup world, and are genuinely curious.

Here are a few thoughts on the “access to capital” question:

  • Funding for entrepreneurs with an idea is still limited to the three Fs: friends, family, and fools
  • Once there’s a modest amount of traction — say, $100k in revenue or 10,000 daily active users — there’s a very limited number of angels and micro-VCs that will write a check (most entrepreneurs at this stage still aren’t able to raise money)
  • After more substantial traction — $1 million in revenue or 100,000 daily active users — there is a tremendous amount of capital available, primarily from outside the region. Capital is more mobile than ever and investors are actively looking for fast-growing startups with traction.

So, regional capital is still very limited, but startups that have the basis of a working business, and great growth, have access to plenty of capital.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the “access to capital” question?

Moving Fast and Slow

In the startup world, there’s a misconception that everyone is frantically running around working 12 hour days just to survive. Yes, moving fast and getting things done quickly are critical. In fact, that’s the main reason small startups beat big companies repeatedly: moving fast and iterating is a huge advantage.

Only, it’s not all fast, all the time.

With intense efforts comes intense use of energy. And, sometimes moving slow is the right call. Whether it’s the need to go easy for a week, or work off the technical debt that’s been accumulating, going slow can be needed. Personally, I find my ratio to be 90/10: working hard 80% of the days until I feel myself losing the edge, then I slow down for a day.

The next time you feel you’ve been running too hard, for too long, ask yourself how you’re balancing moving fast and slow.

What else? What are some more thoughts on moving fast and slow?

The Intersection of Sports and Technology

Earlier today I had the chance to participate on a panel at the new home of the Atlanta Braves: SunTrust Park. After seeing the stadium progress (very cool!), we talked for 30 minutes about the intersection of sports and technology, especially the innovation opportunities that lie ahead.

Here are a few of the ideas discussed:

  • Teams want to use technology to enhance the fan experience, especially the downtime when the game isn’t happening (e.g. between innings, pitcher changeovers, etc.) and the community element
  • Bandwidth is no longer a concern at modern stadiums as every fan can stream video real-time, opening up new opportunities (drones? more cameras on wires?)
  • Startups play an important role in the sports technology world even though most will fail (it only takes one to change the world)

I’m excited about the future of sports and technology.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the intersection of sports and technology?

Align Interview Questions with Core Values

Continuing with the interview questions theme (see 10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing for a Sales Role), there’s an extremely important element for the other side of the table when an entrepreneur is interviewing a potential hire: ask interview questions aligned with core values. At Pardot, our core values were positive, self-starting, and supportive (still, three of my favorite values), and since a critical part of the interview process was assessing core value fit, we came up with specific interview questions around each core value.

Here are a few thoughts on aligning interview questions with core values:

  • Develop written questions for each core value (and store them in a Google Doc)
  • Discuss the interview questions with all team members involved
  • Incorporate culture checks in the interview process
  • Whenever a candidate is turned down (make it a unanimous decision to give a job offer), take time to discuss the answers that the interviewee provided

Align interview questions with core values as part of the culture-oriented hiring process — it’s key to building a strong culture.

What else? What are some more thoughts on aligning interview questions with core values?

10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing for a Sales Role

After yesterday’s post on 10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing With a Startup, a friend asked for a similar list for other, more specific roles. Great idea.

Here are 10 questions to ask when interviewing for a sales role:

  1. What does the typical sales process look like?
  2. What works well and doesn’t work well in the sales process?
  3. Who’s on the sales team and what do they do?
  4. Who would be my manager?
  5. What would be my role and responsibilities?
  6. How would I be measured?
  7. Is this a new role or an existing role? If not new, what happened to the last person?
  8. What’s needed to be successful in this role?
  9. What are the biggest challenges for this role?
  10. What’s your biggest concern about me excelling at this role?

When interviewing for a sales role, it’s critical to ask good questions and demonstrate an ability to build rapport effectively. Use these questions as an initial starting point in an interview.

What else? What are some more questions to ask when interviewing for a sales role?

10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing With a Startup

Lately, I’ve been helping several startups I’m involved with on the recruiting front. As startups move from the early stage to the growth stage, the amount of hiring really ramps up and there are several in that phase locally. When meeting with potential candidates, I like to think about the questions I’d be asking if I was on their side of the table.

Here are 10 questions to ask when interviewing with a startup:

  1. What’s the three year plan for the startup?
  2. What are the three most important things to accomplish in the next 12 months?
  3. How does this role fit in with the upcoming priorities?
  4. What are the three most important things to be successful in this role?
  5. What are the three biggest risks for this role?
  6. What’s working well in the business? Why?
  7. What’s not working well in the business? Why?
  8. When does the startup have to raise money again?
  9. What are the prospects that the startup raises money on good terms?
  10. What happens if the startup isn’t able to raise money?

Of course, the questions would differ based on the person and the role being contemplated. Regardless, it’s important for candidates to understand the big picture and how they would fit in with the organization.

What else? What are some other questions you’d ask when interviewing with a startup?