Establishing strong values within a start-up can play a critical role for its success and for the success of its product.
According to Manaf Bouchentouf, director of National Bank and HEC Montreal’s Accélérateur program, start-up entrepreneurs could easily avoid many issues by establishing an “agreement on values” at the very beginning of their project.
“Generally, entrepreneurs that participate in a start-up are preoccupied by their product or market validation, but they wear rose-coloured glasses when it comes to important decisions that will eventually need to be made. Yet it’s the moment when these decisions need to be made that value conflicts can arise. These arguments can test relationships between partners… and test the start-up itself.”
The concept of values can seem abstract or difficult to grasp. Where should you begin?
Manaf Bouchentouf suggests creating a document for all the partners to sign, a sort of agreement on values similar to a shareholders’ agreement, that outlines everyone’s expectations.
“I suggest planning a long discussion during which you can create a list of concerns in order of importance. What kind of work environment do you want to create? What are your priorities in terms of work-life balance? What expectations regarding growth? Do you want to grow globally or concentrate on establishing a local market? What impact will your business have on the environment and the community?”
By answering these questions at the beginning of a start-up project, entrepreneurs will be better equipped to face situations that could test both their values and their business.
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