No two businesses in the world are alike. This is because their Cultural DNA, defined by the combination of the business proposition and the entrepreneur, is unique. This is why even identical competing businesses are fundamentally different.

The Cultural DNA of a business is set at the beginning – after all the in the early phases you can’t separate the business and the entrepreneur – they’re the same thing.

In my experience 75% of a company’s culture is informed by the founders’ way of thinking, what they value and how they work. The other 25% comes from the attitude, aptitude and experience of key employees. Creating space for your people to keep adapting the culture is key – you have to nurture an environment for this to happen, it’s not something you can dictate.

It’s important to remember that no matter which industry an entrepreneur disrupts, he/she is able to do this because they bring their individual character, thinking and approach to the industry, which differentiates them when competitors are identical. In fact, being comfortable with who you are and what you stand for is vital for ones personal growth and the business you will be building.

This also means that as a business grows, sub cultures can develop which are more entrepreneurial than the core culture at the head quarter. One shouldn’t worry about it or discourage it. In fact its a great sign as it indicates that employees in newer markets are enabled to have their own eureka moments, figure out ways to move faster and adapt to the local context.

After all, business are living organisms which continue to evolve and grow. The culture is tested over time, and develops as new employees join. In fast growing businesses where everyone is focused on shipping product on time, increasing the P&L and keeping clients or consumers happy, it’s very easy to take culture for granted. Entrepreneurs and leaders in the business have constant responsibility to reinforce all relevant attributes of cultural values of the business as well as nurture an open environment for culture to grow.

Cultural DNA goes a long way to maintain your competitive advantage.

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