> Who Are You as a Company?
Who Are You as a Company?
At some point in an early-stage company, ideally sooner rather than later, you'll ask yourself this question. I find that the exercise of exploring questions around who we are and what are we doing here anyway often helps focus the founders and the early employees on issues of culture and community which are essential to creating a productive, happy place for you and future employees to spend their days.
Sometimes there is resistance to this kind of fuzzy thinking - why bother with this when there's important work to be done? - but with the right set of questions and a blocked-off couple of hours (you'll need more than one hour but you don't necessarily need to spend the whole day on it), interesting findings often emerge. At the very least, you'll find out a few things about how your colleages see this company you're building together.
Here's my list of questions:
- Who is your customer? What keeps him/her awake at night? How does your offering address that need?
- How is your solution more effective/appropriate than other solutions at solving customers' problems?
- What is your company known for? How will this evolve over time?
- If you could tell your mom one thing about your company, what would it be and why?
- How would you describe the personality of your company?
- What are your company's core values?
- What is the most interesting/compelling thing you have ever read about your market or the space you're operating in?
- What is the most interesting/compelling thing you have ever read about one of your competitors?
- What will your market look like in 6 months? 18 months? Five years? How should customers prepare for that today?
- How would you describe your corporate culture? Is it modeled after another organization? What has had the greatest influence on your culture?
- Why are you excited to come to work every day?
- How much time should employees spend in the office?
- How important is it for employees to be efficient vs. social at work? Is work the kind of place where people come to do their jobs and go home, or should they also have time to hang out and hash through ideas?
- What's the average age of employees at your company? What does this say about the lifestyle you want employees to lead?
- What's a fair vacation/PTO policy?
- What is the greatest advantage and/or drawback of being located [where you are located]?
- What is your management philosophy and what influenced it? Past experiences? Schooling or lectures? Other successful companies or executives?
- What keeps you awake at night?
- What are your interests outside of work (hobbies, charities, collections, sports)? How do these influence your time at work?