You may be puzzled by the title of this post. You might ask yourself, "Why should I want to mirror a startup culture? My company is established and thriving." While that may be true, there are many positive things to be gleaned from a startup mindset that can improve any size business.
When you think about a startup culture, visions of air hockey tables, modern furniture, brightly colored walls, and an all-fun mentality may come to mind. But in reality, a startup culture is so much more.
Here are a few common tenants of startup culture that could benefit your business and everyone in it.
Start from the Bottom Up
One thing startup companies often do well is listen to their customers. Because they probably don't have executives making all the decisions, they can have a better ear to the ground on what their audience wants. An example of this would be a clothing store posting three pieces of clothing on Facebook Live and asking which one customer want to go on sale – and then doing it. It might be worth the effort for CEOs and executives to get more in tune with their customers to ensure decisions are made with them in mind.
Take off the Guardrails
Startups tend to have an atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to put forward ideas, and then actually see those ideas come to life. This can also be called intrapreneurship – where employees think like entrepreneurs and drive organizational change. Simply put, encouraging employees to be intrapreneurs will spur innovation and make your business better.
Actually, Embrace Innovation
A lot of companies say they value innovation – but not all of them actually walk the walk. Building a culture of innovation can be tricky, especially within larger businesses. One reason may be because, unlike in a startup environment, not everyone is invested in true, unbridled innovation. There may be people with great ideas who run into roadblocks when they bring them to higher-ups. Make sure employees at all levels of your business are truly dedicated to fostering a culture of innovation.
Bring Back the Passion
If there's one thing startups have in spades, it's passion. Things are exciting. Everyone believes in the mission. And this brings the company culture to life-giving everyone a shared purpose. Leaders of larger businesses can still rediscover their passion and infuse it into the rest of the company. Just start with the "why" – why do you do what you do? From there, spread the passion around to the entire company.
Be as Agile as a Cat
Startups have the ability to shift and react quickly – something that has a way of getting left behind as a company grows. But agility can be vital to the success of a business. As times, trends, and technology change faster than ever, it's easy to get left in the dust of a company that can react faster. So destroy those silos, slash your decision-making process, and find ways to speed up your turnaround time.
Startups often encourage employees to think without limits. When people are free to come up with ideas that are more about exploration than solving problems, ideas can lead anywhere. This mentality can be helpful in any size company. As Andrew Benett writes for Entrepreneur.com, there are four essential things to be curious about: your people, clients' businesses, the outside world, and "what if." Try making curiosity a key part of your company culture and see what kind of out-of-the-box thinking comes from it.
You may find that some of these ideas simply don't work for your company, and that's OK. Simply experimenting with being more innovative, agile, and passionate will likely pump some enthusiasm and creative thinking into your team – and ultimately improve your business and culture.