Small Business Ahead
Small Biz Ahead

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3 Ways To Keep Your Startup Fresh As It Matures

By Nir Zohar | Fast Company

As a small startup working to get your idea off the ground, scaling up your company poses many unforeseen challenges. In your startup's early days, you work closely and bond with each member of your team, but as your company grows, this is replaced by regular introductions to new faces and staff.

At this stage, having the right company culture can be the difference between innovation and stagnation. It goes without saying that your founders are going to be excited and passionate about the company, but making employee number 543 feel the same level of connection as employee number 33 is not a simple task.

Throughout Wix's development from promising startup to publicly traded company, we had an intense fear of bureaucracy, but we also recognized the growing need to streamline activities. We developed a few key principles that enabled us to maintain and even increase the level of innovation, while continuing to grow at a rapid pace:

1. Disagree. Loudly!

Few things symbolize the weakness of bureaucratic organizations like the image of the yes man. While this may bolster an executive's ego, it also drains the passion and innovation out of an employee. We've always demanded the exact opposite from our team--if you disagree, make it known loud and clear.

Being vocal and loud may not be the easiets way to push innovation, but from our experience, it's very effective. Passionate and creative employees are what will drive your company forward, so don't stifle their opinions over those of a senior manager. Even more damaging is stripping an employee of the ability to state their case and stand by the idea they support. Whatever the outcome, letting someone fight it out validates the importance you place on their opinion and provides a forum for expression.

While you can't--and shouldn't--implement every idea you hear, allowing for disagreement means channeling passion in a positive direction.

2. Grab Opportunities

As your company and the scale of your activities grow, you will often feel like you have to stick to plans and roadmaps. While planning and organizing are necessary, at Wix we believe that some chaos is needed for creativity to happen. We've created an environment where grabbing opportunities and adapting quickly to external changes have become the core of our company's culture and have proven key to our growth.

Take our recent internal Hackathon as an example. We encouraged all of our employees to take a week off their regular work tasks, form cross-departmental teams, and create what they thought were exciting additions to the Wix platform. We were amazed by the things they came up with. Subsequently, we grabbed the opportunity that these ideas presented and amended our product roadmap to incorporate most of them. By being flexible, we showed our team that their creativity matters and meaningfully affects the direction in which the company is going, no matter what the original plan was.

3. Stay Transparent

In the early stages of a company, it's natural that all of your teams sit together in one cramped office. While the close quarters may make headphones necessary at times, they also foster collaboration, a deeper understanding of the product, and a wider sense of belonging.

As you grow, shoving hundreds of people into one room is obviously not the most productive idea, but creating a team atmosphere is still vital. At Wix, we make a point of keeping everyone feeling connected and in the know. To do this, all of our office dividers are made of glass, so our employees feel a part of something bigger. This physical transparency is coupled with regular, company-wide updates where we also take the time to get to know each other away from our work stations. We even built an internal information sharing tool that connects everyone around topics and projects. All of these together create an approachable, open, and transparent atmosphere that we're very proud of.

For us, encouraging employees to voice their opinions, fostering creativity (and some chaos), and building a transparent organization are essential factors in the successful scaling of Wix. Maintaining our start-up spirit and energy were essential when growing our business, and we used these three principles to guarantee that we did this while staying true to who we are.

--Nir Zohar is the President and COO of Wix.com, a leading global web development platform. Follow him and the rest of the Wix team on Twitter at @Wix.