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Why Losing the Startup Mentality Hurts Big Business

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The startup mentality has taken the business world by storm, and for good reason. Startups are notorious for their ability to be creative, take risks, and have an aggressive growth mentality that can result in huge successes. With small, driven, agile teams, startups are able to navigate the ups-and-downs of business with resilience. While startups are notorious for getting things done quickly, big businesses are frustrated with how long things take in comparison. They desire the agility that startups have, but do not know how to get there.

When larger challenges and higher risks start to emerge in business, companies start to frantically put new processes and procedures in place. They end up clamping down on creativity and innovation and elongate the ability to get things done. They layer processes instead of keeping process lean and efficient like a startup.

Losing the startup mentality has several costly repercussions for businesses going big. The first thing to go when startups lose their culture is passion. Companies start to focus more on the methods and results than the purpose and the people. It loses its personality and authenticity and starts to look like every other company on the block.

On top of losing passion, the company loses its agility. The ability to react and shift quickly is something special about startups. With a big business model, small fires take forever to put out because the processes are too complex and involve too many people. Things just take longer.

The effects of shifting from a startup mentality to a big business mentality can be truly costly, but companies do not have to give in. We have worked with multiple startups and have a few fail-proof strategies to keep the startup culture, even in the midst of big business growth.

Here are 5 tips for implementing a startup mentality in a large business.

Keep Teams Small

Small teams work faster and better. They know and trust each other and work like a well-oiled machine. They are easier to manage, keep a pulse on the morale, and offer opportunities for innovation. Startups have an advantage because they are small to start. As businesses grow, create more teams rather than increasing the size of current teams. In larger companies, try breaking large teams up into smaller segments.

Celebrate Entrepreneurship

Part of what makes a startup so successful is its creativity, innovation, and non-conformity. Even as companies grow, there are ways to maintain that level of ingenuity. Continue providing a platform for employees to share their ideas and celebrate them, even if they are not put into place. Host an event where employees present their ideas or have an idea box or forum where they can submit new ideas. Bring employees into big business decisions to get their feedback. Provide training and leadership opportunities for employees so they can be challenged to add value.

Choose Leaders Carefully

As large companies hire people, they often look for hefty resumes. These people often have years of experience in a big business culture, which is not bad. The only downside is that they might try to impose it on your company. If you desire a startup mentality, look for people who share your company’s passion, personality, and purpose. Even if they do not have the years of experience, remember that culture fit is proven to be just as important as skills. Finding people who fit your culture and then training them in the skills they need will help maintain the culture long-term.

Stay Focused

Company leaders must consistently remind themselves and their employees why they do what they do. It is easy to forget the reason a company started as it gets bogged down with the challenges of growth. If a leader becomes burnt out, they need to take some time to remember their passion and purpose. For the sake of employees, keep the passion alive by offering constant reminders of the “why” behind the “what”. Use videos, images, written testimonials to stir the emotions and keep the fire going. Have staff outings with the goal of igniting the passion for purpose. Keeping an eye on the reason the company started in the first place is crucial to maintaining a startup mentality.

Professionalize Your Processes

One reason companies move towards big a business method is because they have a need for better processes. When it comes time to implement more robust processes, find a way to fuse the culture with the benefits of the added structure. For example, establishing budgeting procedures may give the impression you are settling for big business methods, but communicating that the processes will help you accomplish your purpose and serve clients better will get more buy in.

The startup mentality and its successes are attainable by larger companies. With a few strategic moves, organizations can keep what is best about their culture, discard what is holding them back, and increase in size, profitability, and professionalism. If you need help determining which strategies will work best for your company and how to implement them, call us today! SMT has over 15 years of experience working with startups and large organizations in maintaining the startup culture.

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