Takeaways from Kimbal Musk & Justin Cucci about Creating Culture from Denver Startup Week
I recently attended Denver Startup Week, which ended up being the largest entrepreneurial event for businesses in the nation. As a whole, Denver Startup Week helps to raise the entrepreneurial landscape and social capital of the Denver business community. Local business owners attended a series of events, panels, thought-provoking roundtables and networking events to develop, foster, and grow their businesses. With nine out of ten startups failing within their first year, everyone attempts to crack the code on what strategies develop a successful business with longevity.
While participating in one of the roundtables, I asked Kimball Musk, a progressive individual leading the marketplace across finance, hospitality, and aerospace, what it is that keeps business owners passionate and resilient without complete market adoption. He simply responded that having a strong passion for the business can drive a company to stay its course regardless of what objections and problems arise. Steadfast determination and resiliently sticking to your company’s mission will change the industry and keep business owners leading the front line.
Recognizing this, it is imperative that business’ make superior products and service their mission. “Mission-based businesses are the way of the future, and are the only businesses that will last,” stated Kimball.
Today’s employees and consumers are choosing to engage with companies that align with their own values, standards, and motivations. Employees want to feel valued and know that they are contributing to a cause larger than themselves. Feeling as though we matter is essential to the human spirit, and we are seeing this trend across consumer industries, as well. For instance, consumers are now analyzing everything from a company’s values and initiatives to the philanthropy organizations they’re involved with before purchasing that company’s products for their home.
Collaborating with like-minded individuals is human nature. That is why we create communities and subcultures around shared interests, such as sports, churches, and music. Relating to others and feeling desired are amongst the most fundamental human needs.
It is no wonder that consumers and employees are choosing to align with companies that exhibit similar values to their own. With so many choices available to us, everyone wants to express themselves by ensuring the organizations and brands they engage with daily properly represent their specific belief and value system.
In order for businesses to thrive, companies must project their mission not only to their consumers but also within their own company walls. Those that fail to do this will not survive.
For example, a business with a worthy vision far greater than itself will have employees that want to rally and contribute beyond their normal capacity to further that vision. Providing an environment where employees feel safe to provide feedback and contribute to the company’s growth and overall health is essential to creating a progressive culture. While most companies take a top-down approach where the management dictates the law, Justin Cucci, who runs several thriving, experiential restaurants in the Denver market, rebels against this corporate norm and allows all of his employees to have an equal voice. From the busboy to the bar manager, anyone can provide positive criticism and come to the table with a solution, not a problem.
While restaurants are clearly in the business of curating an experience for their patrons, the same holds true for their employees. Justin suggests that other industries can learn from the hospitality market by empowering their employees. “It is not a management gap,” Justin explains, “It is a leadership gap.” No one wants to be managed. People want to matter, to contribute, and to know they are furthering a cause in which they believe. We call this social capital development.
Enabling a structure that allows employees to have bilateral communication where they can provide feedback, suggestions, and possibly avenues to increase the efficiencies and procedures of the company is healthy. Let’s pretend that an employee could double the efficiency of a particular procedure over a region or the nation. How many hours, and how much money could that save the entire organization as a whole if properly shared? Sharing is not the only component here, though. Recognizing your peers for their contributions will encourage further employee performance.
Developing a culture inside and out of a company’s walls that rallies around a specific mission will ensure increased loyalty, engagement, and brand equity. By implementing these practices within their organizations, Kimbal Musk and Justin Cucci prove that mission-based businesses will lead the future.