9. Start-Ups: The Google Winning Team
By now you’ve probably come quite far with your startup idea already. You and your co-founder have settled and realized that this business could possibly be a quite sustainable one. Maybe you’re the next Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Maybe you’ve experienced growth just like they did, if you have a new like they did then congratulations. Google was working from a garage in Menlo Park, California for two years until they made a first crucial decision: they hired a new member to their team.
In order to present a healthy company to any third party interests, it is important for the company itself to be aware of its strengths. The company culture develops from the moment you even start thinking about your idea, that you start sharing your thoughts with co-founders or possible mentors, company culture is what defines why others would start working for you as well. Since you have complete control over how the company culture develops from the start, an interesting culture could be the secret ingredient to your business formula. How does the team interact and behave around each other? Can everyone be themselves and do their work optimally? Google has built a culture almost every company would be jealous of. Ask random students on the street if they would want to work for Google, their answer will probably be a definite yes. Google creates the most amazing work places where they encourage their workers to communicate and interact, in their opinion leading to a relaxed and innovative environment1.
Your company culture will start with the introduction of the first employee. At the start, keeping your predefined culture authentic is still a doable task; however try convincing a group of 30 just like you converted a group of 3. When Google hired their first employee, Craig Silverstein, after two years of operating it at first didn’t change a lot. Silverstein was a fellow PhD student at Stanford, shaped according to life at the university. Ever since, Google has made it a goal to keep the mindset of a startup company, where everyone can bring input and shouldn’t be afraid to share new ideas. Employees are even provided with the contact details of Page and Brin, for when they would like to discuss company-wide related matters.
There are several things we must keep in mind when extending our team. Recruiting is the biggest step you will have to make; you don’t find the best co-founders, customers or partners around every corner. Then the other team members need to fit within the company culture, so hire them for their potential, not their skills. Nowadays the focus during a job interview lies heavily on what someone does outside of work, what defines them in their personal life. And this is, however much it is criticized, very important for finding a culture fit between the potential employee and the company. It is easier to say at the start that maybe there will not be a click then when you are several months into the introduction process.
Google managed to create a winning team, based largely on how they promote their company culture. They say, “let’s work together”, instead of “apply here”. They hire people for their capacities, not experiences. And as we have seen, that vision created the company we world wide know so well. Creating a culture that makes your employees want to work for you instead of having to work for you could maybe just be the factor that leads to the success of your startup.
This post is part of the series in How to Start a Start-Up, based on the lectures taught at Reykjavik University, Iceland. For more information check the Start-Up Iceland website