How can companies act more like startups?


Startups are, by definition, "temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.” (as reported by Steve Blank).

The main bits differentiating startups from mature companies are:

* Narrow target - startups always start small, focusing on a narrow niche/subset of the industry they aim for. They define the buyer persona, going into as much detail as possible. The focus is crucial for all of the marketing and brand messaging, as well as avoiding ubiquity in their product.

* Agility - startups are flexible. Processes are available, but just loosely followed. During the first 3-4 years, processes are aligned to the process of finding a product-market fit and the available staff at hand. People often determine the culture, buttom-up.

* Speed of execution - startups must move fast. This is one of their key strengths. Less bureaucracy, fewer processes, rapid release cycles. The senior management team (often the co-founders themselves) are heavily involved in the day-to-day operations, responding to customer requests and even support tickets.

* Team efficiency - each and every team member is absolutely crucial to the success of the organization. Looking for experts comfortable working in fast-paced environments. Juggling on a daily basis. Marketers asked to touch code here and there, helping with product planning or sales.

* Startup spirit - the mindset of a startup is different. Things may change rapidly on a daily basis, or multiple times a day. Everyone fights for survival, growth, beating the competition and stealing market share. It's a small army of sort.

Answered 6 years ago

They have to try new things, take chances, fail quickly.

In an established company, the best way to mimic a startup is to create an independent team, preferably away from headquarters, that are given a budget, minimal bureaucracy and supervision.

Answered 6 years ago

Can you further clarify what you mean by this? Are you asking how can "larger" companies improve their processes, collaboration, and agility to behave more like start-ups?

Answered 6 years ago

I have often encouraged employees to act like entrepreneurs in order to create growth opportunities. Established companies can benefit from the lack of bureaucracy in startups and by empowering individual leadership skills. It is easy for established companies to become complacent and not continually adapt to market changes. Examples of stagnant companies: Borders Books and Music which kept a pre-internet business model; Circuit City which failed to acquire competitors and Sears which should have reduced its inventory to just Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools during the housing boom. If you are concerned that your company is not adapting to market changes, new revenue channels are a phone call away.

Answered 6 years ago

This tends to relate to entire management structure.

For flat structures, with no management being paid for take up space, agility is easy.

For deep structures, with many managers promoted via the Peter Principle, unlikely any agility can be achieved.

Maybe better for you to ask the "real question" behind your question.

Describe exactly what you're attempting to accomplish in established firms, which seems easier to accomplish in startups.

Answered 6 years ago

I think of a startup as a company with less than $1 million revenue. The next $4 million is a wasteland as you encounter more costs in accounting, hr, marketing, sales, legal, etc. than you can afford. There is no way to avoid this period - much of my work is helping people to get to an oasis at $5 million revenue where you can afford all those jobs that had to be added.

After $5 million, I'd echo the earlier question - "Have you gone through some strategic process to make sure that this form of business is what will help you to grow into the midmarket ($5-$500 mm revenue). I use the 4 Decisions Tools which help business leaders with Cash and Strategy.

Answered 6 years ago

Responsiveness: know what clients want, what clients needs and what your internal strengths and resources are. Use the latter to react to the former.

Answered 6 years ago

1. Rip up their policies and procedures and resolve every issue with ad hoc solutions
2. Stop having clearly defined roles and responsibilities and get people to work on whatever fire is currently burning brightest rather than what they are god at
3. Scrap budgets and most financials controls because it takes too much time and X is always more urgent

You get the gist. A lot of what companies do they do for a reason. It's a series of bitterly learned processes and systems that enable them to deliver quality consistently to their customers at an affordable cost.

Startups aren't like that. They are still figuring everything out. As a result they don't need most of the above until they have got it all to work.

Answered 6 years ago

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