Even Big Companies need to think like Start-Ups

Thinking like a start-up can help jump-start growth, re-fresh tired strategies and make corporations more responsive to new trends and demands.

Common perception dictates that startups are hothouses for creativity and innovation, while large corporations are too jammed up with bureaucracy and hierarchy to push the envelope towards new solutions. It’s easy to focus on the infamous failures: Blockbuster, Blackberry or Kodak but it’s also quite possible to find examples of nimble and proactive companies such as Uber, Tesla or Amazon that are making huge steps towards cementing a new model of business strategy.

With such an unwieldy ship to steer, it can often be hard for large multinationals to decrease their reaction time to exploit a profitable opportunity or avoid a disaster. But there is a revolution happening on the boards of big companies that are adopting “start-up” strategies to jump start innovation. It’s not about becoming overly focused on the innovation process either, but more about being lean, focused and highly strategic. Big companies that behave like start-ups follow a few simple rules:

  1. Boiler rooms of business strategy where the executive muscles of the business do all the hard shoveling, are becoming a thing of the past. Smaller decentralized points of innovation are becoming more popular in order to crowd-source solutions for more responsive decision-making.
  2. Start-ups work on tighter timelines. Their competitive edge is being able to add value personably and in a timely manner. The feedback chain is far shorter and organic, allowing a flow of creative energy to happen more efficiently, ultimately producing a better product in less time. By setting shorter, stricter timelines for deadlines, there is less opportunity to second-guess decisions right before deadline and prevents insignificant changes spurred on by insecurity at the last minute. Setting deadlines and sticking to them force confidence, assuredness and less waste of resources – ultimately benefitting you and the client in the long term.
  3. Start-ups are flatter, this is well known fact that less hierarchy means more creativity but so what? The founders are often the sole staff in a new business, and are present in every meeting, they collaborate and review work as it happens. Everyone is onboard which means there is no delay in moving forward. It may not be realistic for higher-ups to be present in every meeting and be part of every small decision made, but those that are intimately involved with the creative process should have a greater say in the outcome from the outset, regardless of corporate politics.
  4. By nature, startups must value creative disruption. When the entire purpose of the organization is to offer something fresh and original it becomes part of the culture. Entrepreneurial leaders don’t fear risk as everything they do is considered risky so it would be futile to shy away from it. An inherent part of disruption is to put yourself and your ideas out into the world, so next time a company sets out to define their values and culture, risk should be included on the list. Freedom to experiment is the cornerstone to remaining relevant.

As companies grow they tend to opt for safety and stability in order to manage risk and create a dependable environment for their employees and clients. But large companies also need to remain relevant, and have a lot more to lose should they stagnate and lose hold on their market. Start-up strategies combine practical tools with the strategic thinking needed for driving forward new products, services and cultures. Paired with the established systems and large capital reserves of corporations, this approach could leapfrog an already big company into leading positions in their markets. 


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This article was written by Sarah Mason, Social Media Strategist at Business Essentials for Executive Headlines