From Start-up to Scale-up: Maintaining a Strong Culture as Your Company Evolves

March 17, 2023

Organizational culture refers to the values, beliefs, and behaviors that make up a company's unique identity. It affects how workers communicate with one another, make choices, and approach their work. Increased engagement, productivity, and retention of employees can result from having a strong, positive culture.

However, it can be challenging to preserve that culture as a business expands, particularly when more people join and remote work becomes more popular. This blog post will discuss the value of preserving culture at a large scale and offer tips and case studies on how to accomplish it successfully.

Why Culture Matters


It can get harder to effectively communicate across departments and locations as a business grows. It can be challenging to keep everyone informed and on the same page, especially if the company has a dispersed workforce.

Hiring and Onboarding

As a business expands, it might be more challenging to make sure that new hires share the moral and ethical standards of the organization. This can be particularly challenging if the business hires contractors or remote workers who might not be as familiar with the company's culture as staff members who work in an office.

Scale-up Process

Rapid expansion can be thrilling and overwhelming, and it's simple for company culture to get overlooked. As a company grows, it might be harder to keep the same level of unity, communication, and sense of shared identity that existed when it was smaller.


It can be challenging to maintain employees' motivation and engagement when a business is expanding quickly. As a company grows, it might become more challenging for employees to identify with its culture and mission.


As a business expands, it might become more challenging to make changes and keep the decision-making process flexible and quick as it was when the business was smaller. The process can be slowed down by bureaucracy, which can be upsetting for workers and lead to a misalignment with the company's culture.

Lack of Ownership

As the business expands, some of the founding team members who had a strong sense of the company's culture, history, and mission may leave. As a result, new hires may not have the same sense of ownership and ties to the culture as the old ones.

Acquisitions and Mergers

These business transactions can make it challenging to uphold a consistent culture across the board. When two companies with different cultures merge or one company acquires another, it can be challenging to ensure that the new company's culture is in line with the company's values and mission.

It's important to remember that as the business expands, other problems might also occur. Businesses should have a clear plan in place that addresses their unique challenges and is tailored to their particular context in order to address these issues.

Strategies For Maintaining Culture at Scale

Clearly Defined Values and Mission Statement

The company's culture is built on a clear and succinct set of values and mission statement, which also serves to direct behavior, interaction, and decision-making inside the organization. These ought to be distributed and reaffirmed throughout the business, from yearly company meetings to the onboarding of new employees.

Strong, distinctly stated values and mission statements area hallmark of organizations like Patagonia, Zappos, and Google and help to form their cultures. For instance, Patagonia's mission statement, which serves as the cornerstone of the organization's culture and decision-making, is "Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental issue."

Consistent Communication

Because it ensures that everyone is on the same page and has a shared knowledge of the company's values and mission, constant communication is essential to maintaining culture at scale. Regular company-wide gatherings, internal newsletters, and/or an internal social network where staff members can exchange information are some examples of this.

Businesses that have been successful in creating effective internal communication channels to keep staff connected and informed include Netflix and Buffer. For instance, at Buffer, a weekly company-wide meeting is held to review updates, progress, and any potential problems.

Hiring And Onboarding Practices

Hiring methods are a crucial component of preserving culture at scale because new workers will shape the culture too. It's essential to be deliberate about the kind of employees you hire, ensuring that they support the mission and values of the business.

Practices for onboarding new employees are also essential for orienting them to the culture, values, and expectations of the organization. This can involve things like connecting new recruits with important stakeholders and giving them a clear sense of the company's culture, mission, and values.

Companies with a clearly defined hiring procedure and a track record of attracting candidates who share its values and culture include Shopify, Salesforce, and Netflix.

Employee Engagement and Feedback

Employee input and engagement are crucial for scaling up culture because they ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the culture is improving. Activities like team-building events, frequent one-on-one meetings, and employee recognition programs can help to increase employee engagement.

Employee surveys and 360-degree reviews, which are common forms of feedback, can assist identify areas where the culture needs to improve and offer suggestions for how to do so.

Companies that have been successful in developing effective employee engagement programs, which support the development of a positive culture, include Google, Cisco, and Hubspot.

It's important to note that while there are other ways to preserve culture at scale, these are the most well-known and effective ways todo it. What works well for one firm may not be as effective for another depending on the circumstances of the organization.

In Conclusion

It's important to remember that scaling up culture is a continuous effort, not a one-time job. To maintain their culture, businesses must be proactive and take the appropriate actions. The techniques described in this post can assist you in creating and sustaining a robust culture at scale, regardless of whether your organization is a start-up or an established enterprise.

If you're looking to work with a company with great culture, Mad Creative Beanstalk is a great example. Trusted by 100s of early-stage startups for amazing design, there's a reason why we deliver quality work consistently and that's because we have a great global team that prioritizes a positive work culture.

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