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Three Common Mistakes First-Time Entrepreneurs Make

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Three Common Mistakes First-Time Entrepreneurs Make (And How To Avoid Them)
What are some avoidable mistakes that founders make in their first companies? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Jonathan Spier, CEO at pLAE, on Quora:

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Letting culture emerge vs. creating it deliberately

Every company has a culture; a set of shared values and behaviors that define how people interact and work together, who advances in the organization, and what is considered important. All too often, the culture of a company emerges based on personalities in the room; it’s as if the various personalities “fight” to see what behaviors emerge as acceptable and strongest personality wins! Morale suffers and people leave.

In contrast, the best entrepreneurs make the company culture a priority, and invest the time to deliberately shape the shared values of the organization.

Start by taking an inventory of the values you truly believe in. Not the aspirational values of things you wish you could be (“excellence in all things!”) but the real list of core beliefs that define the kind of culture you will be truly happy working in and leading. Discuss them with your co-founders and early team members, and find the areas of agreement. Discuss the behaviors that should be present when those values are real in the company. Write the values down and put them in a place where you will see them and be reminded of them often.

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Finally, look for ways to make the values visible to the company. At pLAE, we give out quarterly awards for people who exemplify our values such as teamwork, respect for others, and being bold. We use the values to screen candidates and in every personnel decision. We talk about the values often in meetings. I try to ‘catch people’ living our values and call it out to thank them.

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