How to create a fighting spirit of a startup in a stable company


Every morning you walk down the standard corridor of a B-class business center, looking for the office door. The faceless doors of neighboring companies differ only in the number of black letters on white plates. Enter the reception area, where Anya, the secretary, has already spread piles of documents on the table.

Stop, no! It is now customary to save money on paper, so he does not take his eyes off the monitor. As well as the other thirty employees. Someone said hello, others did not notice your arrival. An ordinary day in an ordinary office. Boredom, longing and routine.

And somewhere there, a completely different life is raging! People are playing foosball, exchanging news and stories about last night. There are no gray tables and black chairs in the offices, and there are no offices at all – a huge room with a fluffy carpet, bean bag chairs, secretary Anya in bright flip-flops handing out oranges.

This is how we present the culture of a startup, where a fighting spirit and a positive atmosphere prevail.

Talented employees, young, inspired, fly like butterflies to a fire in numerous startups. And stable companies are the fate of mature people tired of life and work, who dream of retirement, not new heights.

    Flies breathe and employees sleep.  Pexels photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Flies breathe and employees sleep. Pexels photo by Andrea Piacquadio

In both cases, it’s a cliché. Why choose between them at the risk of losing the values ​​that allow established companies to thrive? You can combine the best of these two worlds, and we’ll tell you how.

What is the corporate culture of a startup

A startup is a new type of corporate culture aimed at removing barriers and breaking down obstacles to growth that are characteristic of stable corporations. But do not rush to plan to break down walls and partitions in the office – we are talking about other barriers.

The legendary Tony Shay, venture capitalist and CEO of, shared his hiring secrets in an interview with HuffPost:

Creating and maintaining a corporate culture begins with the hiring process. At Zappos, we have two sets of interviews: the first is conducted by a manager who looks at experience, technical skills and knowledge; the second is the diocese’s personnel department, which checks compliance with the corporate culture. After being accepted to work, the employee undergoes a 4-week training cycle. We tell everyone about the history of Zappos, the importance of customer service, our long-term vision and corporate culture philosophy.

We also offer every employee $2,000 to quit smoking because we want to make sure they want more than just a paycheck.

What is the value of startup culture

Danylo Lezhankin, a lawyer and entrepreneur from St. Petersburg with three startups under his belt, tells the story:

Among the disadvantages of a startup – you do not know whether you will work in a month, often you do not even know whether your employer will have money for the next salary.

But from the pros, usually everyone understands the riskiness of the event. And they understand that sometimes the chance of success is low. But they still work, because they value not so much money as the idea itself.

A startup is a small team of like-minded people. People have a common idea, a common goal (not money, but a useful product), accordingly – excellent motivation and such a natural team spirit. Without any team building trainings: people do not need to be taught to work in a team, simply because they are really united by one common goal. In short, as if a group of like-minded people is engaged in their favorite hobby full-time, and not “sitting out” time in the office every hour.

So what can be done to bring the fighting spirit of a startup into the environment of a long-standing company?

Creating the fighting spirit of a startup: a checklist of 7 cards


Be an example – start with yourself

Managers often forget this:

  • they demand strict discipline, and they themselves are late every day;

  • they raise their voice, arrange for the smallest mistake – and they themselves forget about the important deadline date.

A team is only as motivated as its leader. Not just about the CEO – energy and risk-taking should flow from the top down and seep into everything that comes along the way.


Rethink and reframe the mission

Startups do not have time for such searches – they urgently need to “finish the product” and start sales. But they have a dream – about joint success. Can we in a traditional company make everyone feel like they are part of a common idea? Of course!

Rewrite the mission statement, make it modern, improve the reward system and consider partial participation so that employees feel as if it is their own company.


Hire the right people

Everyone you invite to the team must fit in. An employee is not an anchovy in a vacuum shell, he will cook in the same pot with everyone and should not bring disharmony to the team.

Hiring the right person is more than picking the best resume out of a bunch. Look at motivation, emotional intelligence, and whether the newcomer will find common ground with older employees.


The workplace matters

If you were to propose to your girlfriend, then most likely it happened in a good restaurant. Likewise, for your employees to innovate, they need to be in a high-energy environment.

Build an office with an open plan, without cubicles, a cafeteria, an incubator – everything that will provide a favorable space for brainstorming. And foosball with oranges, yes.

The workplace can cause a happy smile.  Pexels photo by Andrea Piacquadio

The workplace can cause a happy smile. Pexels photo by Andrea Piacquadio


Take care of your employees

In startups, it is customary to work for wear and tear, except for working hours. Stable companies are distinguished by a fixed schedule from 09.00 to 18.00, rest on Saturday and Sunday, vacation in the summer months.

But if you constantly make concessions to employees, surround them with care – in an emergency situation, they will stay even in the evening, and the vacation will be postponed. Sometimes even without your requests.


Recognize others’ achievements

People with high motivation and orientation towards success go to startups. Speed, energy, pressure – and a new peak is reached.

To keep a similar fire burning inside your employees, praise them, reward them even for local victories. It might be a tiny step forward for you, but an hour of hard work for them. If people do not feel that they are valued, then you should not expect a special return.

Examples of ideal startup cultures


Spotify is a vivid example of a start-up known to the whole world not only to music lovers:

  • development and product teams are organized into cross-functional groups of 8 people;

  • each group has full autonomy in what they create;

  • each group has a mission, but they all feed into the common mission and goals of the company.


Auth0 is a platform that provides ready-made solutions for the development of services of various levels of complexity. This startup gives its engineers more freedom to innovate and experiment. Failures and mistakes are encouraged, especially learning from them and moving forward.

Until recently, the feature of the startup was remote work – but now you won’t surprise anyone with it.


Wistia is a service for the most in-depth video analytics. His experience is very interesting to those who want to borrow the fighting spirit of a startup for the team. There, they created the Wistia code school, which unites developers with employees who expressed a desire to learn to code.

Graduates of the school work in customer support – and begin to solve problems with the code themselves, instead of opening requests and asking engineers for help.


The culture of a startup, its fighting spirit is:

  • a team of like-minded people united by a common goal;

  • a highly motivated leader who energizes everyone from top to bottom;

  • mission in modern formulation – words filled with meaning, not empty beauty;

  • hiring the right people – look not for resumes, but for personalities;

  • workplaces that create an environment conducive to innovation;

  • care for employees – on a mutually beneficial basis;

  • recognition of other people’s achievements – supporting the fire from the inside;

  • encouraging employees to new projects – at a specially allocated time.

What of this can be superfluous in a stable company? Try, implement, follow this path together with the team – to new heights, goals and prosperity.

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