Your company has an innovative product, an entrepreneurial team and a solid plan for growth – so why does organisational culture matter? It’s a question increasingly being asked by businesses of all sizes, and an approach that the leading growth capital and working capital provider BOOST&Co built into its strategy from the start.
“In new, expanding businesses, you’re forced to make a large number of decisions every day, from hiring new people and dealing with clients to pursuing new opportunities for growth,” says Lance Mysyrowicz, partner at BOOST&Co, which offers loans of £2m to £10m to fast-growing SMEs in the UK. “Taking these decisions without an overarching set of principles is difficult; you are likely to take the wrong decisions or just get lost along the way.”
BOOST&Co’s solution was to embed a strong organisational culture early in its development. The business worked with Heather Bingham, an organisational psychologist – a rare commodity in any firm – to identify, synthesise and structure its cultural tenets. These beliefs and attitudes were shared by the company’s partners, Mysyrowicz and Sonia Powar, who felt strongly that they should be reflected in all of the company’s day-to-day activities and people processes.
How personality governs success
“We wanted to give the team a framework to guide daily decision-making. The objective was to enable everyone to make decisions effectively and to ensure ownership of the results. Our first job was to formalise the framework; that’s when we brought Heather on board,” Powar says. “It was vital that we translated abstract concepts into tangible personality traits,” Bingham says. “Starting with a formal description of the company’s culture helped to ensure that consistency could be maintained as the business grew.”
The partners settled on seven cultural tenets, which describe everyone who works at BOOST&Co: authentic, brave, curious, self-motivated, smart, interested and interesting. Such guiding traits are unique to each business, but the most important factor in defining a company’s culture is ensuring that they are a true representation of the values of the firm. Once these have been defined, constant reinforcement is crucial to keeping a business’s culture at the heart of everything it does.
Embedding these attributes in people processes is a first step, from recruiting employees with the desired cultural tenets to evaluating their performance in accordance with these. Establishing a strong culture is an important element of any fast-growing business, but it is vital in financial services, where regulatory supervision ensures that behaviour matters as much as the availability of funds.
Tailored products beat traditional lending
Promising SMEs often struggle to find the funding that will enable them to grow. A number of funding methods are available, the most frequently used being debt. Lending from traditional financial institutions often fails to meet the unique needs of these companies, but growth capital providers, such as BOOST&Co, can offer innovative products that are tailored to each client.
“We are able to provide more money, earlier in the life cycle of fast-growing businesses. This means SMEs can achieve milestones much more quickly than if they opted for traditional lending,” Mysyrowicz says. “Our products also enable SMEs to access capital without equity dilution, something we know is important to most business owners.”
The swift decision-making process that sets BOOST&Co apart from the banks enables fast-growing SMEs to seize opportunities for growth: they can invest in international expansion, extend their cash runway, fund larger contracts and carry out mergers and acquisitions. BOOST&Co’s regional presence across the UK accelerates this process. Its deal-makers, who are based in London, Manchester, Bristol and Cambridge, have strong networks in the local business community. Their expertise benefits the local economy in their respective regions through the investment they provide to the most promising local SMEs.
“We are different because we are independent,” Mysyrowicz says. “We look at SMEs on a case-by-case basis and make our own decisions without regard for rigid, traditional lending models. We use our collective experience to develop a deep understanding of the business models we assess and the opportunities for growth that companies would like us to fund. A core part of this assessment is our view of the business’s management team and the culture they have developed in their firm.”
Ultimately, then, it comes back to organisational culture, and the undoubted benefits of establishing shared values and objectives in a talented team. Capital may be important, but only when it is allied to a strong culture do the ingredients combine to produce success.