A friend of mine likes to say that “culture is destiny.” You can get everything else right but if you get your culture wrong, you are going to have problems.
As I look across our portfolio, I see many different cultures, some very strong and obvious even to outsiders. Some cultures are more nuanced and you have to work inside the company for a while to understand them.
Some cultures are extremely supportive and welcoming. Other cultures are more mercenary.
The truth is that these cultures are set very early on, largely by the founders and the early team they surround themselves with.
Once you create a culture it is incredibly hard to change it.
I have seen leaders, often new leaders, evolve the culture but not completely change it.
I have also seen cultures reject leaders who tired to change things too quickly.
All of this leads me to believe that the decisions a founder or founding team makes in the first few months of a company’s life are among the biggest decisions and that they are setting their destiny in place, often without even realizing it.