There’s nothing worse than a busy season to test the mettle of a startup. Excessive orders, customer service wrinkles, products out of stock, you name it. And when something goes wrong the problem usually lies with…you guessed it, the people. When we help clients build cultures, we talk about the importance of hiring to culture–especially for startups where employees are often the face of the company. Hiring to culture is not “can I have a beer with this guy?” It’s a defined selection process that tests whether a candidate will deliver in a way congruent to your company values. It’s employees that live the brand every day and act as an extension of the business no matter where they are.

Since I’m in the business of startups, it’s only fitting I patronize them too. And in checking off my own gift list this year, I decided to put a few service startups to the test. How would they fare when I ordered their goods, asked questions, and responded to problems that arose? And what startup employees are really singing their brand’s tune?

Best Practice #1: Sharing the Brand

Fornash is a startup that pivoted multiple times in the design industry from hand-painted glasses to design-your-own purses to their current successful jewelry and accessories line. Stephanie Fornash Kennedy, founder of the brand, has bootstrapped her way to Oprah’s Favorite Things List. Not only is Stephanie always decked out in her own line, her social media team is constantly sharing ways to wear her items on Instagram.

e88eb1ea5ee411e3977412e829fefa95_8I had the chance to join Stephanie and a group of women last week for dinner, and she came with free baubles for all of us: she gave the Cosmopolitan Bracelet to each of us. We promptly adorned them, took a photo and shared it across numerous social media channels. Brand goodwill starts with friends and family. Putting the product in the hands of friends and sharing the brand you’re proud of makes those who know you, proud of it too. You don’t need Kickstarter to remind you that startup success often begins with the people who have faith in you and are proud to share the story of someone they know. Now I’m off to fill stockings with more Fornash bangles.

  • Shop Fornash this holiday season: use code COSMO for 20% off of the Small Cosmopolitan Bracelets you see above.

Best Practice #2: Informed employees are the best employees.

I inherited a love for giving gifts from my mom. For me, it’s not about extravagance but about the unique finds that are perfect for one specific person on your gift list. As a citizen, I’ve always admired the Back to the Roots story to make food personal. As an entrepreneur, I appreciate their carefully curated product line. And as a consumer, I looked at the Amazon reviews before purchasing one of their Aqua Farms as a gift.

Unsure if some of the problems the reviews cited had been addressed, I conveniently asked Emily, a Back to the Roots employee who popped up in the live chat function on their site as I was shopping. What changes had they made to address the problems? She responded immediately in the chat window with the specific changes that had been made to the product pump, tray and construction using the exact terms I’d seen in the reviews. I was impressed and convinced. She topped it off with a coupon code and I was off to the checkout, one more gift uniquely checked off my list....

...continue reading the rest of this post over on Tech Cocktail where it was originally posted.

Susan LaMotte is the founder of exaqueo, a workforce consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact exaqueo to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce strategy that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to scale the right way.

 

 

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