For a Startup that’s Swiftly Expanding, Growing and Evolving, Do Celebrations and Social Activities Really Help in Maintaining its Startup Character? Here’s Why They Do

Startups, as they gain more funds and establish themselves in the market, gradually evolve overtime organizationally and structurally. More and more people are brought on board and expansion into overseas markets are taking place during these exciting times. As the startup grows bigger and expands further, it may be the case that it starts to lose the warm, close-knit, passionate feel that it had when it was just founded. The excitement and newness of it all starts to wear off, and this may dampen the spirits and creativity that were a crucial driving force behind the startup in the first place.

Also, some of the original members of the startup team, its co-founders or even its founder, may start to feel as if the startup is losing its culture and character, which are what kept things fresh and interesting, and fuels their drive in the first place. Therefore, if a startup wishes to retain these key people and continue to thrive even as it grows and expands swiftly, here are some reasons why social activities and celebrations are important for upholding that startup character and culture.

When the startup is small, with every big achievement or progress these special occasions are usually celebrated with awesome parties and social activities by the team and its employees. These celebrations feel more like warm family gatherings where everyone is relaxed, feels free and safe to express themselves, and generally have a good time and actually feel good doing it. Contrast this to corporate functions and events where everything feels formal and everyone is nice for the sake of being nice.

A startup may celebrate their first successful launch at a fancy hotel, or just at the local restaurant where everyone hangs out for lunch. However, even though the settings are different, it is the startup’s members’ perception that is key to it all: Does it feel like a formal corporate event, or a warm gathering of family and friends? And here is what seperates a startup culture that is still warm and embracing from a cold, corporate one: the feeling of belonging to a warm circle of close friends and family that encourages openness and honesty, where self-expression is encouraged and individuals are accepted for who they are. They feel as if their voices are being heard, not just merely a cog in the corporate machinery.

Social activities and celebrations are a good way of maintaining the startup culture; these celebrations and activities don’t have to be limited to just the startup’s achievements and goals met, but it can also be more personal, like celebrating a team member’s birthday, the birth of a child, the achievement of a personal milestone like successfully climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. The whole startup should participate in these celebrations and gatherings, and it is vital that no one is left out. The key thing here is that the people feel as if they are growing and maturing alongside the startup even as it expands and evolves; each individual accomplishment or special occasion is acknowledged and celebrated by the startup and the team as if it were their own.

To further nurture a startup culture where its members feel comfortable enough in socially engaging with one another in a family-oriented space, it is good practise to regularly create normal social activities involving all of the startup’s members. At these activities the members can interact and engage positively with one another in ways that go beyond just merely having a discussion or talk; for example team building exercises like laser tag, culinary team building, indoor sports, or even hosting a local area network (LAN) tournament. These activities enable all members to build new bonds with each other or to strengthen existing ones, and are great icebreakers for new members to the startup. It is the element of fun that encourages spontaneity and that makes the people participating in these activities feel that they can be themselves. If the activities become too rigid or dull they may start to feel just like any other necessary corporate function to attend to for the sake of attending.

Another plus point for holding regular social activities: the bonds built and strengthened from these activities will carry over to the startup’s culture, because the members will feel that they are not alone and there are people who will support them through thick and thin, and they are far more likely to return the favor too. So when a startup is facing hard or challenging times they are more prepared to overcome it, together as a team.

Needless to say, celebrations and regular social activities are key to maintaining a startup character because they encourage openness and engagement between startup members, and build new bonds and strengthen existing ones which are vital for maintaining that close-knit feel. A startup that nurtures a familial and friendly environment, where all members are made to feel welcomed and valued, will go far.