While rocket-fueled expansion is something many startup founders aspire to, rapid growth on its own is no guarantee of success.
That’s because growth without a strong company culture to support it is sure to be unsustainable. At worst, growth that happens too quickly can even result in a company’s failure.
So how do you supercharge sustainable growth?
One example of a company doing this is CRI Genetics, a DNA testing company based in El Segundo, California. Since its inception in 2016, CRI Genetics has grown from a startup to an established industry player with a 9-figure valuation and cutting-edge products. Today, this privately funded company competes with the very best in the genetics industry, with an agile, expert team that Alex Mulyar, founder and CEO, has built from the ground up.
I sat down virtually with Mr. Mulyar to discuss how building a company culture based on growth and personal development has contributed to his company’s success. Here’s what he had to say.
Self-improvement and development is just as vital in the workplace as it is in our personal lives
CRI Genetics is built on a culture that values employee development, personal growth, and excellence.
“Simply put, our company culture is like a SWAT team,” says Mulyar. “Each member is a top performer in their area, and we put complete trust in each other to perform at the highest level.”
Team members are also encouraged to continue honing their skills, and CRI frequently sponsors team members’ continuing education through books, courses, or workshops.
“The result is that team members are constantly improving and learning—which of course leads to growth within the company as well. My favorite saying is that ‘Books are the cheat codes to life’—because you can get the benefit of 10+ years of experience from a book that you can read in a matter of 30 days.”
Rewarding individual excellence supports team excellence
It’s well-known that recognizing and rewarding individual employee excellence can improve morale and create a more positive work environment—but it can do more than that, as well.
Making employee rewards and recognition a part of your culture can go a long way toward supporting the overall excellence of your team as a whole.
“We grow quickly as a company because our team members grow quickly,” Mulyar says. “Most frequently, I see the team members who learn the most move up in the company the fastest. We’ve had team members who grew from entry-level positions to management within a matter of a year or two, simply by virtue of being hungry, reading books, taking courses, and as a consequence, producing results within the company.”
Instituting specific values or “pillars” can improve your team’s cohesiveness
Establishing a strong, positive company culture that can support a company’s growth and evolution requires intentionality. At CRI, Mulyar says, employees operate based on the “Five Pillars” that he and his team developed, and regularly recite at their weekly team meetings.
1. Putting the Customer First—This translates into a commitment to product the highest-quality product, as well as an “efficiency guarantee” guaranteeing users’ money back if they don’t receive results within 8 weeks of sending off for results.
This customer-first approach also includes a commitment to keeping customer data absolutely confidential and secure.
2. Profitability—As a privately funded company, CRI must stay self-sufficient for continued growth. This focus led them to turn a profit by the end of CRI’s first year, and the team has doubled the company’s revenue every year since.
3. Speed of Implementation—Team members are encouraged to try new ideas frequently, and test rapidly to validate or discard them. This comes into play in the company’s frequent A/B testing for marketing, as well as new product development, where new ideas are frequently put into product form within a matter of weeks.
4. High Standards—All projects, both internal and external, are completed to a high level of quality. “There is a tension between speed and quality, but the team constantly works to strike that balance between rapid iteration and delivering a high-quality product,” Mulyar says.
5. Integrity—Companies can’t grow without a high level of trust among teammates, and between the company and its customers.
Mulyar credits these pillars with helping the team stay focused, organized, and purpose-driven. “Whatever your goals, make sure they’re aligned with the culture you want to create for your company,” he says. Whether you have pillars, a mission statement, or another code of conduct, it should drive, and be reflected by, your goals.”
For Mr. Mulyar, those goals and culture can both be summed up in one word: Growth.
“We’ve only grown so fast as a company because our team members have grown so fast in their respective fields,” he says. “I highly recommend that alignment between goals and culture to other entrepreneurs or managers.”