The Bench

Culture Guide

Welcome.

It's good to have you.

Your character and talents have found a new home. There are a thousand other things you could have done, but you’re here with us. For that, thank you—it means a lot.

At a certain point we realized that if Bench doesn’t work for people, it won’t work at all. If you read only one thing in this guide, make sure it’s this:

People are everything.

Bench doesn’t exist, only people do. If we’re going to change the lives of millions of people, we have to create a place where everyone’s life works. To do that, we give meaning to ideas and principles that let us do the work of our lives happily and safely.

Collectively, those elements combine to create the most powerful tool we possess.

Culture: our sole technology for advancing what humans can do.

Culture is foundational to everything we do. It’s the sole thing that defines how we work together to achieve big, important things for the human race.

This guide encapsulates our distinct culture. It captures what keeps us happy, healthy, and working well together to fulfill our purpose. Use it to do the best work of your life.

Welcome. Let’s do big things.

What are we here for?

To bring financial mastery to a million people.

Bench solves a long-standing, universal pain point for business owners: bookkeeping. But our larger purpose expands beyond that. We’re here to help the most people in history understand what they want to do and where they want to go.

To do that we have to make understanding finances simple, effortless, and affordable for everyone.

How do we do that?

By solving problems that have never been solved.

Bench is really just a group of people who have decided to work on things that haven’t been done before. That means there are problems we have to solve that haven’t been solved yet.

We don’t hire people and tell them what problems to solve. We look to one another to figure out what problems we should be working on that we haven’t thought of yet.

Be curious. Ask questions. Talk to anyone and everyone. Uncover the problems that you think matter. Bring people together to discuss them. Do the work, experiment, share early, share often, repeat, and do big things.

The five technologies we use.

At Bench, we’ve decided to play a game. That game is called “let’s bring financial mastery to a million people.” To help us fulfill our purpose and win that game, there are five primary technologies we use. These technologies aren’t complicated, but they’re essential to everything we do.

The five core technologies listed in this guide will help you to do your life’s work. They’re technologies that help us win the game we’ve decided to play, but that also create a culture where we can do what we want to do.

Use them to elevate your work and do great things.

Default open.

We share information openly. When we’re able to exist openly as our real selves, we can better pull together as a team and win the game we’re here to play.

Information belongs to everyone

No piece of data or information belongs to one person or team. If you don’t have access to something, ask for it. Share early, share often. If you’re nervous about sharing, it’s probably a sign that you need some outside perspective.

Be curious

The best ideas often come from poking around, and people start poking around when they’re curious. If there’s a question you think matters, ask. Your curiosity can uncover blind spots or problems that no one’s discovered yet.

Business reasoning is openly shared

Everyone is free to openly share the reasoning behind decisions. The same goes for senior leadership. You will never be punished for asking something. If there’s an uncomfortable question that no one’s asked, step forward.

Default open ≠ absolute open

It’s important to remember that default open does not equal absolute open. Some information can’t be shared. Case in point: client and employee data. If something can’t be answered, trust that it’s for the safety and well-being of someone else.

Experiment together.

No one can tell us how to get to our goal—it’s up to us to find that information. Experimenting together is our technology for discovery.

Every part of our business is subject to experimentation

The people that work here know a lot of things, but just because someone says something (executives included!) does not always make it true. If there’s a conclusion or practice that you’re unsure about, ask questions, run an experiment and share your findings.

We don’t know anything for sure

No one’s done this before. That’s exciting! But it also means we don’t know anything for sure. If there’s something you think we should know, experiment. But always run experiments with others. Every experiment must establish something objective, and running experiments in isolation can lead to results that only make subjective sense.

Failed experiments are extremely valuable

Trying new things is the simplest way to uncover what works. That means the occasional failed experiment or hypothesis. That’s not just okay—it’s valuable. Discovering what doesn’t work helps us understand what does.

Go big.

We’re here to bring financial mastery to a million people. To do that, we have to go as big as we possibly can—individually and as a team.

We’re here to move the needle for the human race

Bench exists to achieve big, incredible things for the human race. But we can’t get there unless each of us has a big vision for our own work. We’re here to improve the lives of a million people. The work you do is a crucial part of that.

Think bigger

Don’t start from what’s achievable and realistic. Adjust for “achievable” after you’ve thought about the best possible way to solve your problem, even if it hasn’t been done before, or we lack the budget and know-how. We can figure all that out. Start by thinking big.

Do the best work of your life

Ask yourself, what would it look like if your work was twice as good? If it was the stuff of “best of” lists? Commit to being insanely great at what you do. Challenge yourself to do the best work of your life.

Think long-term.

Short-term plans matter. But only as a means to keep us on-track for our long-term vision.

People looking at a mountain far off

Build mastery

Dedicate yourself to becoming a master at what you do, one day at a time. Trust that the small, compounding efforts of doing what is best—not what’s urgent—will pay off big one day.

Don’t sacrifice the future

We do what’s best for the long-term, even if it won’t pay off for years. And we never let short-term obstacles or hiccups lead us astray from our long-term goals.

Goals are tools

We’re going to change a million lives by being patient. That means we start with big goals and steadily chip away at them every quarter. Goals are helpful tools that show us if we’re on track to change a million lives.

People are everything.

Bench doesn’t exist, only people do. People are everything at Bench—literally.

Our business is just people

Bench is an idea that a bunch of people have agreed to work on together. Without people to work towards it, Bench is just that—an idea. The long-term success of Bench directly correlates to the happiness and success of the people who work here.

Bench only works if it works for everyone involved

Thinking long-term means building a foundation of workability for everyone here. 80 hour work weeks and company-wide burnout won’t get us to our goal. To advance what humans can do, we need everyone who works here to feel ready and motivated to do great things.

Set your life up for health and happiness

You’re not here to toil in the short-term for long-term pay-off. You’re here because you can help us help a million people. We want you to be healthy and happy while doing it. If something isn’t working for you, tell us. Bench is a place where you can establish a life that works for you.

Let’s do big things.

The technologies and principles above exist to help you do your life’s work. Use them to nudge your accomplishments forward—and the human race with it.

Right now there are the fewest constraints on what’s possible in the history of the universe. Nothing has ever been as possible as it is in this very moment.

You are now at the forefront of what’s possible. So, if you’re ever unsure what to do next, remember why we’re here: to advance what humans can do.

Thank you for committing your true, talented self to that endeavour.

Now, let’s get to it.