Corporate Culture

In a competitive market where a landscape amongst start-ups shifts every second, it is not easy to stick to your essence and mission statement that was initially drafted.

Holding firm on your corporate DNA requires discipline and solid execution to stay ahead of the curve.


Corporate DNA is a mix of organizational structure, core principles and values.
Where vision and mission of that business are key drivers to motivate and inspire individuals working.
Companies, regardless of the size, are like a breathing body or living organism that adapts on circumstances but remains intact or stable when your framework or processes change.
Every company starts with core principles, looking to shape a solid branded image that is equally inspiring and recognizable for the outside, as for the ones working within.
Corporate DNA is a great catalyst to create the company culture, strengthen the mission and a natural element that enhances leadership during their decision process.


In my field, I encountered so many start-ups and scale-ups being investment-ready or ready to take on another round of financing. It doesn’t matter which bracket you’re in, they’re all driven to nurture or amplify their growth.
Growth comes with structural change. Change often stands for progress and innovation. But innovation should not lead to deviation.

Being often in the middle between a start-up and potential capital, I met great founders in their respective fields with a real drive and passion about their venture. I saw fire and desire. Completely ready to walk the entrepreneurs’ path with massive plans to scale once they can secure outside capital.
Their idea of crushing it, is paired with building a unicorn company and they wouldn’t settle for less.
That’s a great mindset, but it’s not the one we want to hear. One of the major reasons why start-ups raise money, is the ability to scale, leverage their potential to the max and outpace competitors as far as they can run.

Building a business is a marathon, and not a sprint. You might be able to take shortcuts here and there, but like most of those start-ups, they end up on the wrong path.


Many founders get distracted easily. A shift in their industry often leads haste decisions and the idea of scaling their business to beat competition because they made something ‘different’ or ‘better’ is for me a red flag.
Lessons are learned from the big tech giants such as Apple & Microsoft.
It was Bill Gates, that bailed out Apple when they were on the verge of bankruptcy. And I will never forget the moment when Jobs admitted that he was so focused on beating Microsoft, he lost track on Apple’s core values and what it stands for.
The bailout and Jobs’ focusing back on his product, made a key turning point in our tech industry. Focus was found, when he launched the iPhone and after presenting it, changed the screen to glass. A great example how CEO’s can turn a 180 and that decision has set Apple for good. (Not many know that the first iPhone on stage had a plastic screen. And he changed it into glass, realising it fits more to the product and what Apple should pursue)

When I mention this story against founders, or start-ups. They’re having a tunnel vision syndrome that scaling and adding as many features is the way to win the game against your competitors. Well the turtle often wins.

Scaling too fast results in shifting focus when you’re often dealing with current bottlenecks. It completely will disturb the initial mission statement. And that, will lead to a corporate DNA change without realizing it.


Your vision and roadmap change. Which is true, and whilst many start-ups worry about how their target group responds and accepts the company, your corporate DNA starts from the inside, only to grow a stronger framework that can be projected to the outside.

With strong leadership, you are able to optimise talents working within your organisation. Being a positive influential leader amplifies the productivity of your staff that serves as a multiplier.
Enhanced leadership can align the focus of your entire entity, nurturing a stronger corporate mission with employees that support the company 100%.
A strong company DNA involves diversity. Numbers matter, analytics and data matter, but having a diverse perspective in key areas can outperform a spreadsheet.

It has been surveyed, that people like to stick to their job without a pay increase if their department or higher management involves them enough in throwing out ideas, giving them a voice that spikes their creativity. Employee engagement is an absolute key driver to build a stronger company structure.

Companies are built on engagement. Engagement is your foremost catalyst as a start-up or mature venture. That’s an intangible element that cannot be underestimated.
Great commitment from your bottom-line sets a mindset. Mindsets that lead to strong collaboration rather than competition.


Yes, that’s right. I am not saying you shouldn’t change. DNA is a living organism that evolves and changes when circumstances influence the core in order to survive.

I have seen too many start-ups going ballistic or rogue after inception and an initial seed round as they:

  1. Received outside capital but mismanaged it.
  2. Compare their insides with the outsides of their competition.
  3. Are stuck in their decision process and take unnecessary risks to compensate doubt.

Change is great, and it implies often progress. When you’re battling in an early-stage ecosystem, it’s so tempting applying change in an evolving market. But that doesn’t mean your business is on point to adapt to such change.

Change is due, when you truly know your corporate identity. When your organisational charts are able to coexist with intangible elements and its dynamics.
Change is due when the market is ready to accept innovation.
And last, but not least, change can be made when your product, team and business vision are able to create the backbone continuing paving the avenue of success.

One of the examples where I saw progress & change was in the landscape of social media.
I used to be a big fan of Hootsuite, for years. But years later down the line, nothing has actually changed that would keep me loyal to their platform. At least not enough. Laggy, clumsy, and barely any improvements. The only thing that changed over the years was a price increase by 7 times since its inception. And with a rise in social media tools and management software I would have guessed they were able to stay ahead of the curve as one of the earlier ones.

Comparing that with a company like Sprout Social, that was a tool just like Hootsuite, those two evolved night and day. When one barely changed, Sprout Social knew they had to offer more value and solutions to satisfy their market share and customer base.
Whilst they stick loyal to their initial mission, they slowly started to shift from serving bottom priced tools to a full-stop solution in a different price bracket than its inception.
It became tailored for SME’s and departments to handle all insights, ORM and data in one place.

Their change from something simple to so advanced, respecting the rules of corporate culture and its mission is a prime example of how companies should grow. They increased their pricing like Hootsuite, but this can be totally justified. Social Sprout adapted to the market, recognized that data driven solutions are key drivers for marketeers.
Change is good but has to be justified. Change is often when companies see an opportunity to improve their infrastructure or service. But sometimes, change is an uncontrollable variable.


When COVID-19 took over the world in the worst possible way, the majority of companies were forced to deviate from their organizational structure. Even the most solid business frameworks took a beating. Adapting to remote solutions overnight takes even the strongest giant corporation off-balance. Let alone that most employees are so used to a go-to-work routine meeting their colleagues on the floor struggle with the sudden changes.

COVID-19 impacts the way we live, work and keep an economy going that was already in a fragile state. It changed our thinking process as an individual and as a company. It placed every venture under a stress test, and this is exactly where corporate DNA plays a role and enhanced leadership comes in place. How a company is able to keep the structure intact post COVID and keeps it staff members engaged through hard times.

Especially when you are so used to see your colleagues on a coffee break, when you truly have your own little space (desk) that feels so comfortable.
As much as it is so hard for companies to re-structure their organizational structure, it’s made or broken by your employees that feel less motivated working out of their living room.
This is where true leaders and managers are able to show their true potential, implementing crisis solutions to avoid disengagement. This is where companies and CEO’s should show that they are still the same business but operate differently due to circumstances. This is where leaders should tell the inside and outside you are able to handle it, without losing focus on your core values and principles.

COVID-19 definitely took us off-guard, but when your business framework and company culture was on-point pre-crisis, we should not see it as a beating, but rather as an opportunity to strengthen the organization through dedication, loyalty and show what people management really is.
We are forced to re-shape our company culture, and we should think how we can work closer together, even on remote. How leaders can give emotional support and turn all the negatives into positives. Companies will start to understand that chatting cannot be restricted anymore to work-related topics. The meaning of connecting with each other has been redefined with COVID-19.

This fundamental shift is here to stay, but it does not take away that ventures should deviate from their core values, principles or initial roadmap in their market/vertical. It will not matter if you are a start-up, scaleup or a mature business. You have to stick to your mission, vision and objectives. Your mission statement today, is now more important than it ever was. And if you have none, I urge you to make one.


As much I see many start-ups without an actual mission statement on their website, I tend to think they’re not ready. Or they need to rewire their business framework.

A published mission statement is a great reminder for founders what company culture they embrace or looking for.
It serves as a tool, that helps you make future decisions. Especially when your customers care so much about the company’s goals.
It’s a documented roadmap that spikes engagement for employees and customers.

And foremost, it should be personal. Not written by an outsider. There is no one better than the founder to pen down the how and the why.

All that said, I am a strong believer in corporate DNA. And start-ups should realize that loyalty from end-users is determined by a strong product or service that fits their needs. Pricing is less of a concern if you deliver what you stand for as a business.

In a modern world where start-ups are rising and falling, a lot of consumers are willing to give your venture a chance.
The ones that are willing to do so, know that the road for early-stage ventures is often paved with detours, variance and a lot of brick walls.

These are the ones that believe in your mission statement, in your corporate DNA.

Pieter Borremans
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