What big businesses can learn from startups

Startups are the lucky ones, right? Fuelled by the passion of their founders, they don’t do death-by-committee thinking or play by the normal rules of business. Instead, their naturally flat structure means they can pivot and act at speed.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a startup business to adopt a startup mentality. In our work at bbp, we see many big businesses that have managed to borrow some of the best qualities of the startup world and fuse them into their processes to streamline their ways of working and achieve better results.

So what can we learn from startups, and how can bigger business apply this? Here are our thoughts:

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

When you start a business, you live and breathe your customers’ worlds. You know where they work, rest and play and can almost second guess their next steps. However, in bigger businesses, this close connection can become lost, and there can be a tendency to broadcast blanket messages to customers rather than engage them in a two-way conversation. To redress this balance, involve customers in decisions, ask for their feedback and conduct regular user test groups. This will ensure a grounded, customer-centric vision is maintained in the business.

Think fast, act faster

The agile methodology is pretty engrained in every startup’s processes. Yes, you can use scrums and Kanban boards, but what it comes down to is speeding the decision-making process. The death of many a great idea comes about from it having to go through multiple layers of approval before it can even see the light of day. By empowering individuals with the responsibility to make decisions and act on them in the moment, big businesses can start to get more initiatives underway and promote a more entrepreneurial mindset within the organisation as a whole. This way of thinking has helped many enterprises like Google to remain agile.

Build smaller teams, get bigger ideas

Small teams within a big business can be like the cells within a larger organism. Each thinking piece can help to evolve the business. To create these teams, you need to think in terms of cross-disciplined functions. Mix up the execs with the interns, the dev team with the finance guys, and marketing with the engineers. This collaboration could unlock fresh insights and a richer blend of ideas.

Foster new talent and new thinking

Nothing makes a business stagnate faster than old practices. Startups are full of innovative thinkers, and a real focus for enterprises has to be growing a talent pool of people who are fluent in the latest developments in business, technology and innovation. And it doesn’t have to stop with new recruits. Idea generation and innovation should be part of everyone’s job description, and time should be allocated to this. This will encourage a company-wide approach of, ‘Yes, what if…’ rather than, ‘No, because…’.

These are all successful things we see clients adopting from the startup world to help them keep pace with the startups and edge past other big enterprises.

It just shows that to win big, sometimes you have to think small.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash.

Can we help you with marketing, branding, strategy, or just want to chat? Then get in touch!