WHY YOUR STARTUP NEEDS A BREAK

A few weekends ago, we went on one of our annual company outing to Parker, AZ. “Work hard, play hard.” Right? That’s the motto? Your startup needs a break.

Spending time with our team is very important to us, hence our annual trip to Lake Parker in Arizona. We go out on our big-boy boat and have a grand ol’ time.  Actually, we do a lot of events like this – movie nights under the stars, birthday parties, karaoke, employee appreciation dinners, Halloween parties, etc. So why does a startup with little money do this?

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Our Biggest Asset.
This is not lip service. We are the company’s biggest assets – I say “we” because the CEO, CTO and I are also employees. This startup would not be where it is today or go where it’s going without the hard work, dedication, intelligence and creativity of our team. I pride myself on having a team filled with “A” players who are not only invested in our startup but also invested in their own careers. Doing these events is our way of saying “thank you, we appreciate you.” In fact, because we are a startup and don’t have boat-loads of cash, our company outings become that much more significant.

Team Building.
A mentor once told me that an important criteria he looks for in a candidate is the ability to sit next to him or her during a 5 hour flight. That statement clicked for me. He was right. You should work with people you can stand for long periods of time. Hence, team building is very important to us. Throwing company events allows us to do group activities outside of work and often outside of the office environment.

Getting to Know.
These events allow us to get out of our day-to-day “work” mind-set and connect with each other on a different level. For instance, I was unaware that we had customer service agents who are (REALLY) good at karaoke, or that the marketing team play indoor soccer, or that one of our accountants does stand-up comedy, or that our CTO has written code that is still part of the original operating system for the Rover that NASA sent to Mars. How else would these little facts about our team members come out if we never get out of the office?

We All Need a Break.
Our team works hard. Everyone here takes pride in what we do collectively and what each person does respectively. We plan our events in an effort to enable our team chill out, relax, lay back, have a beer, and talk “shop.” Whatever shop they want. Interestingly, on most of these events some of us continue working, especially if the get-away is longer than one day. Why? Because we LOVE what we do here.

Culture.
These events are an essential part of what defines our culture. Continuing and improving on these events is one core philosophy we adhere to. We don’t have company lunches like Zappos, we don’t have a keg in the kitchen like Twitter and we don’t have artists painting murals on our walls like Facebook. I’m sure those companies all had humble beginnings before getting funded. I would say we make every effort possible to give our employees what they deserve.

Does your startup need a break? Share some of the things you do at your startup. I’d love to hear.