CDI Global

Growing a start-up into a business - Company culture drives success or failure

CDI Global’s William (Bill) Surman, has published book, “Growing a Start-Up into a Business - Guidelines for the CEO” that contains more than 200 insightful suggestions and exercises on how to best manage and grow your small business.

None are particularly complex concepts to understand but many can be challenging to execute. These are straight-forward, practical suggestions on how best to handle situations with your people, your customers, and your products.

We will highlight a few exercises from of the book over the next few weeks.

Here is the second highlight and exercise:


Company culture drives success or failure – Your actions, and the actions you permit others to take, create the company culture. While talking about creating a good culture may be good for morale, actions, or the lack thereof, actually create the company’s culture. Through the everyday decisions you make, you create the company’s culture.

Build a team with similar ethics – Without similar perspectives on work habits, the company mission, level of quality delivered and respecting each other, it will be difficult to build a cohesive team. I have met people with a wide range of perspectives on how a business should operate.

Hire people who are respectful and kind to everyone – Your team should treat everyone with the same respect – from the shipping clerk to the CEO.

Encourage your team to speak their mind – A team who always agrees with you is not helpful, a team who is not permitted to disagree with you is much worse. Encourage healthy discussions where everyone contributes and feels heard.

Terminate a bad employee quickly – Just one bad employee can destroy a smaller organization. If you have a disruptive and unhappy employee, please read the book “The No Asshole Rule”. Yes, that is the real name of the book, written by Robert Sutton, a Stanford professor. Frequently, once the problem employee is removed, the work environment improves dramatically.

Learn some personal information about each of your team members – Understanding their situation outside of work will help you know them better and be more understanding of their challenges.

Be kind and compassionate – Remember to be supportive of a team member dealing with a personal issue. Your kindness will be appreciated and remembered.

EXERCISE: Use equity awards as an incentive. Consider awarding modest equity interests in the business to key employees and advisors. Multiple studies have shown equity participation as a significant driver of performance.

For more information about Bill, click here

Click here for the book

About CDI:

CDI Global is a leader in middle-market, cross-border transactions. Our international presence, industry expertise, and market command ensure our ability to help you reach your goals.

From mergers and acquisitions to divestitures and capital raising, CDI Global excels in developing custom strategies that identify the best opportunities. We guide you through each stage of the transaction process, drawing on our decades of financial prowess to identify pitfalls before they arise to ensure a smooth completion. With more than 40 offices in the major financial centers of over 30 countries we are positioned to maximize the success of cross-border transactions.

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