Startups are known to be innovative, nimble, agile, unafraid of risk, tenacious and fun. Once companies become larger, it is more challenging to their “startup-ness” and they can't react to the market as quickly as needed. My colleagues and I presented on this topic during Denver Startup Week, to discuss what growing companies need to do to maintain a startup culture to address the market needs in a timely manner.
Here are three tips to maintain a startup culture in your organization:
Stay Focused and Nimble
Great startups are known for being hyper-focused on the problem they are solving. They "right size" their releases and come up with MVPs to test our their concept. Once proven, they iterate on their idea and refine it - they do not try to “boil the ocean.” Effective startups know their primary customers and are constantly seeking feedback to iterate on their product.
Successful startups are always very nimble - they are constantly keeping tabs on the market, know their competition and their value proposition. When there is a change in the market, great startups always react and pivot. The ability to pivot quickly causes a company to stay relevant in today’s fast-moving industry. For most industries, especially in the tech space, it’s impossible to predict the market in two to three years and therefore the ability for companies to pivot is key.
Get Executive Alignment
When a company is a startup, it’s very easy to have executive alignment because it’s usually co-founders who are constantly talking to one another. As companies grow, so does the executive team, and the number of priorities increases and eventually silos can be created.
For growing companies to keep a startup culture, they have to ensure there is alignment among the executives on the following:
What are the problems (in priority order) we are solving for our customers?
What initiatives help us solve those problems?
What are we not going to do to ensure we stay focused on these few items with limited resources (financial, human, IP etc.)?
Create a Fun Environment for Employees
Employees are the number one asset of any company. Startups know this and are known for creating a culture of fun and innovation, which attracts the best and brightest talent. This must be a priority for growing companies as well and it often falls by the wayside. In order to retain and attract the best talent in the market and to be the employer of choice, creating a fun environment is critical. This will do a couple of things for your company:
Retain your employee base. If you can create this culture, your employees will not look elsewhere and leave. People want to work with smart people solving big problems. Preventing attrition is key to success because attrition will cause you to constantly invest time in recruiting and onboarding - a very expensive endeavor that will require you to slow down and not solve your customer's problems fast enough.
Attract the best talent. Companies that attract top talent have a higher chance of solving their customers’ problem sooner. Getting hiring right is key - therefore take the time to ensure that you have the right screening and interview process to identify great hires.
This post was originally published on Built In Colorado.