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Vegan Startups: 6 Tips For Creating An Amazing, Attractive and Scalable Culture

Orchestrating cultural mix starts with deciding on the organizational structure. Today, organizations are moving away from more traditional authoritarian or top down structures. Value-based concepts with crystal clear and actionable values are the design of choice. Values rule and are woven into every aspect of the organizational strategy from the vision to the mission statement, investor pitch deck and on into the very DNA. The goal is to reduce resistance from the start, primarily through transparency and trust, and allow for rapid growth and the potential for scaling into hyper-growth.

Culture runs through the heart of an organization, a complex mix of necessary substances, such as nutrients and oxygen, feeding each cell and removing waste. Like the heart muscle itself, a healthy culture must be flexible, fluid, and able to process considerable stress on demand. 

What Is Value-Based Culture?

According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), A values-based organization is a living, breathing culture of shared core values among all employees. This is different from the traditional structure which is a more machine-like, business approach that focuses on an authoritarian type relationship or rigid organizational structure. A values-based culture is shaped by clear ground rules that establish guiding principles for decision-making, actions and a sense of community. 

Values are the foundational blocks of an organization’s culture that exist and evolve for better or worse. Culture will develop with or without guidance so it makes sense to take charge and create the company you envision. Employees are happiest and engaged when treated equally with trust, respect, and dignity and in return, brands can expect higher levels of productivity. 

Sadly, many leaders do not pay much attention to the importance and health of their culture. They may be overwhelmed, or worse, don’t see the need to strengthen the fabric of the company until there is a problem. All too often values get a cursory pass in the early stages and are not meaningfully incorporated. Just words and therefore lacking the foot hold needed when the pressure is on. 

Growth vs Scaling

There is a big difference between growing and scaling a business. Growth means adding revenue and resources at a relatively equal pace. Scaling means adding revenue at a much greater rate than it costs.  Scaling is the hyper growth that every entrepreneur hopes and plans for when starting a company. Successful scaling requires solid systems both hard and soft. Culture is the result of a soft system, your people system, consisting of how you attract, inspire, manage and grow your people.

6 Tips For An Amazing, Attractive and Scalable Culture

1. Crystalize Your Values, Detail Your Vision

Values are principles or standards of behavior. They represent the beliefs, philosophies, and principles that drive your business. They are your keywords that crystallize to form your DNA and the story behind “the way we do it here”.  

Expand and detail your vision. What does working for your company look and feel like? Write it out in as much detail as possible. If you don’t already have your values list, highlight keywords and expand them into what you believe to be the most important elements of your business. Then share them with your leadership team.

Create a culture committee. This may be you and perhaps your stakeholders in the beginning. You will want employees on board as you grow. Try writing your values in an actionable format.  Typically in an active voice for easier simulation into day to day practices. 

2. Try Blueprinting Values, Behavior and Means (BVBM) 

A design blueprint is a high-level plan that guides collaborators through the process of designing and contributing to the development of a self-sustaining, open direction or course built from core values.

The  Blueprint (BVBM) has four components and can easily be created, managed and updated using Excel, Google Workspace or any other program of choice.  The architecture is simple, each of the curated values is expanded through a description that ties it to the company strategy. Next, brainstorm associated behaviors to find those that demonstrate each value and prioritize the top choices in a list. Finally, what are the means by which you will apply each of the values?  What tactics will assimilate, maintain and evolve them across all aspects of the company including the training of supervisors and managers, employees, clients and customers? Make a list and delegate as appropriate. 

3. Hire Talent That Shares Your Passion 

Finding people that share your mission can be a unique advantage for Vegan companies.  There is an element of trust and familiarity present right from the start. Today more than ever people are looking to put their energy to good use behind an organization doing work that matters.  Explore niche employment platforms like PassionPlacement.com that list jobs posted by mission focused organizations. They also coach people through career change and are readily available to assist in finding good fit candidates.

Diverse, equitable and inclusive, (DEI), based organizations yield greater profitability, innovation, and results. When people feel that they are recognized and belong they truly become a part of the fabric and pour themselves into what they do. A DEI focus will help attract loyal participants.

4. Always Do The Right Thing, Do What You Say

Doing the right thing means doing what is best for the greater or common good. It means making decisions that are not based on your own personal needs, that don’t expand your popularity, or enforce your personal beliefs. Operate more from a “we vs. I”perspective. Doing what you say builds integrity and trust, bedrock that we all crave.

When you address your employees with utmost transparency and state the ultimate goal with clarity, it inspires them to follow these values with all their might. They will know that they are more than just words. 

5. Empower, Reward and Appreciate Your People

Employee empowerment is a management philosophy that is the opposite of micromanagement and allows employees to make independent decisions and act on them in the moment. This philosophy appreciates the value of learning by doing and supports employee success and growth and as a fully productive member of the organization. 

Employees not only want good pay and benefits; they also want to be treated fairly, to make a substantial contribution to the organization through their work, and to be valued and appreciated for their efforts. Read more about Managing employee recognition programs.

Set up systems and educate team leaders to always reward those who go above and beyond. Tie values to results and rewards whenever possible. Done well, not only does this encourage more of the same behavior, it inspires others to follow. 

6. Make Your Brand Attractive

So how will you build your company brand? How do you structure your organization to withstand the g-forces of scaling? Ultimately it will be by abiding by and living your values. Encourage your people to develop community spirit and commitment locally and online to create momentum and greater visibility. Stimulate, participate and support initiatives that build and bind culture inside and outside of the job. 

We live in an information-driven world. Customers, clients and employees can easily look at what’s happening in your firm. Be transparent. Let them know the power values hold in your organization, (integrity & trust). Doing this will help you recruit, retain, build and bind your culture and your brand. 

Rock stacking has carried spiritual meaning across cultures for centuries. The act of balancing stones carries with it a practice of patience and a physical effort in creating balance. Connecting nature in this externalized expression is uplifting and a very powerful tool for expanding the spirit.  A stack of rocks is called a cairn. Cairns have apparently been used to mark trails for thousands of years and are still in use today.

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