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Startup Employees Rocking the Holiday Season

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.





Talent and HR News Roundup: Startup Leadership Edition

Talent and HR News Roundup: Startup Leadership EditionA key part of growth for every startup and high-growth organization is talent. The people. That's how we make our living here at exaqueo. But sometimes the best examples are right in front of us -- growing startups every day. This week we've been paying attention to some of those leaders and pass along their lessons in growth, innovation and scalability to you. Here we pass along four stories and four different perspectives on startup leadership, growth and what to consider to get to your end game or end goal -- whatever that might be.

1) The Rise of Female Chief Operating Officers: Meet Jen Consalvo at Forbes

"Outside of corporate life, the challenges are different but still there. I see far more male-dominated startups, fewer female-led companies getting funded and lots of gender issues play out across the startup world. Because there are no corporate policies making it really clear not to offend people, startup world is a bit more like a school playground – and people get really stupid. It’s forced me to look honestly at my own behavior and attitudes and admit when I’m trying to fit in with the status quo versus speaking out to create change."

2) When Startups Pair With Big Corporations Everyone Wins at Fast Company

"Really, though, the ultimate benefit to partnering with corporations boils down to two words: exit strategy. Not every founder is looking to sell, of course. But if you are, cultivating a corporate partnership is a great way to start. Building a relationship with a corporation that respects the startup’s value proposition -- and receives benefit from it -- is a great way to plan a future acquisition, especially for serial entrepreneurs."

3) Startup to $850,000 in Under One Year at Under30CEO

"A year and a day before I spoke with Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group was born.  Only 366 days later, the company has grown to 8 employees and is projected to earn $850,000 in revenue for the year of 2013. Having success as an entrepreneur is nothing out of the ordinary for Mogill, who at the age of 12 launched a web design company out of his parents’ home.  'I’d have web design clients come to my house and my mom would let them in the front door.'"

4) Lauren Thorp of Umba on Taking Small Steps Toward Your Passion at TechCocktail

"For me the first step in becoming an entrepreneur was I had to get happy. And that meant quitting my job," says Lauren Thorp in this video on her startup leadership philosophy.

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