This month’s Perspectives column was written by Simran Magowan at Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP.

The beginning stages of any new endeavor are daunting. And I mean any endeavor. I’m not even talking about a business. Think about the first time you tried a sport. Serving a tennis ball may seem routine now, but consider all the questions that must have run through your mind the first time you tried it. Am I holding the racket correctly? Tossing the ball the proper height? How hard should I swing? You get the point.

Likewise, the questions surrounding the beginning stages of a startup business intensify that scenario exponentially. With so many items on the to-do list, non-essential issues may get neglected. But establishing the business’s culture should not be an item that slides off the list.

Culture is, quite simply, the soul of an enterprise. It is what your company does, not what it says. And in that way, it is really the North Star. In the words of leadership coach Tim Kight, culture drives behavior and behavior determines results. It’s that simple. So, if your company’s culture truly is “the customer is always right” then that motto should be consistently applied to how your company deals with customer complaints. It might mean making concessions that you might not otherwise make. But the existence of a culture and sticking to it actually makes the decision process easier. When in doubt, see the culture. That should settle most debates.

Kight insists that leaders establish the culture and others take heed and behave accordingly. There’s no “chicken or the egg” dilemma here. The culture is a direct result of the leader’s decisions from the top, or lack thereof, and this sets the tone. Your organization will adopt a culture the leader consciously picks, or, if the leader doesn’t make an affirmative decision, then the culture will most likely adopt the leader’s personality. In some cases, that may be a spectacularly bad result, depending on the leader’s personality. But even if the leader is not a jerk, it still results in an ad hoc, rather than a purposeful, environment.

Instead, it’s better to think about the culture you desire and consistently implement it. In midst of the startup chaos, this may require some self-reflection. If you want your culture to be collaborative, you may want to ask yourself if you are a “my way or the highway” type. If so, that doesn’t mean you can’t run a collaborative organization, but you need to keep your controlling personality in check.

So, as you draft your startup to-do list, somewhere in the midst of “find space”; “perfect the product offering”; and “find a great lawyer” [admittedly a little self-serving there], add “think about our culture”; “write it down” and “commit to it.” While this requires some extra effort up front, consistently following the company’s culture compass will help your new business navigate through the midst of the expected and unexpected startup issues.