MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for:What’s your biggest worry and how are you dealing with it? is written by Amy Errett, CEO of Madison Reed.
Startups will usually face two major hurdles: proving their business model, and growing their business. While Madison Reed has a proven market, we’re still growing our company every day. Although growing a company is an enviable problem to have, it requires an entirely different skillset than proving your business is viable. That’s why scaling our company without abandoning the identity and culture we’ve worked so hard to forge is one of my biggest worries.
We’ve created a culture at Madison Reed where employees can thrive through compassionate, thoughtful relationships with both their managers and peers. In a time when most companies are pushing their employees to grind it out for every additional bit of productivity, we empower our employees to be honest with one another and abandon their fears. This approach drives our team to achieve beyond what they thought was possible and furthering the company’s success in the process — I call it scaling with love.
Propelled by growth projections and a deluge of new hires, over time some startups lose their identity and distance themselves from the very DNA that made them such a splash in the first place. Ensuring this doesn’t happen at Madison Reed is something I work to achieve every day.
Though I try to remain focused on our goals, retaining our company culture isn’t easy. I believe the compassion and empathy each employee brings to the table is incredibly valuable — not something we can afford to abandon as our audience continues to grow. There is no single strategy to keep you team members happy or engaged. After years of doing this, I believe that human beings are more motivated by finding meaning in their lives than being solely money focused. Certainly, compensation matters, but in a company like ours where we have a deep social meaning — where we believe in creating the best hair color products with low chemical ingredients.
While we have lots of room to grow, we won’t sacrifice what makes us unique to do that. Ensuring we retain the compassionate, empathetic culture we’ve spent years developing is something I think about every day. It requires a balanced approach — focusing simultaneously on the big picture and the details. We believe we are well on our way to disrupt a $50 billion market with a better product, better experience, and better service. We take massive pride in that and we know we will have challenges and opportunities as every company does, but I know our culture will carry us through.
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