Think of big companies like the Death Star.
On the outset, it's a planet killer. But its weakness, (other than a really questionably-architected ventilation system), is that it moves at a glacial pace.
I spent 10 years running a digital agency working with these Fortune 500 giants like BMW, Best Buy and Eli Lilly.
What we don't see on the outside is how impossible it is for these companies to move internally and how we can use that lack of mobility to our advantage versus worrying about our home planet of Alderaan getting blown up.
The first thing we need to know about big companies is that their culture is almost always faced entirely inward.
That means their staff, unlike ours, spends more time coordinating (read: fighting) with other departments then actually focusing on shipping product and responding to customers.
While MegaCorp is busy scheduling meetings about upcoming meetings, we're heads down shipping products. They’re going to spend 10x more time coordinating resources than actually getting the work done from those resources.
That's our edge.
If a new opportunity arose that we wanted to take advantage of, we can huddle in a room and shift the entire boat "hard left" immediately.
It doesn't work that way in big companies — at all. If you've ever watched a big company CEO try to ram something through their own organization, even they can't get things done quickly in most cases.
That doesn't mean they won't respond, it just means we can respond faster. If we use that judo move to constantly ship new and better features faster, to market more aggressively, and to constantly condition the market that we're ahead, it's a huge win.
All of this agility is wonderful, and we should use it to our advantage, recognizing that at some point we may be looking down the barrel of a giant cannon.
Our goal is to move as fast as we can, and stay 3 steps ahead of MegaCorp so that the cannon never gets sighted on us.
This isn't about being scared — it's about being fast.
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Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes Bizplan, Clarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.
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