Our team has worked with hundreds of startups. Given all of that exposure, we’ve come to learn a thing or two about startup culture and patterns. In this post, we are going to share some defining traits that give startups a competitive edge over more established larger companies.
In almost every case, startups move quicker. This can be due to many different factors. A startup team can often move quicker because they are leveraging innovative technology or because their communication process is simpler given a smaller team size. Another reason (which we will go over next) that startups have speed on their side is that they often lack much of the bureaucracy that is found in larger companies.
In the game of business, speed matters. Moving quicker allows you to increase the amount of time you have to run experiments and mess up before you run out of time and money.
More Yes, Less No
Startups are more open to experiments and trying new things to optimize for growth. All you need is one yes at a startup team in most cases and you can try your idea and learn from the results. Meanwhile, in larger companies, all you need is one no and your idea is dead before you even started.
This is not to say that startups are reckless, but rather to say that companies can learn something from startups in encouraging smart experiments internally. These smart experiments could have a key action with a predicted measurable result that is an indicator for the experiment’s effectiveness. Companies can still sign off on experiments to make sure the potential downside is not crippling to the company while providing an avenue for their team members to innovate internally.
A Sense of Urgency
Steve Blank clearly explains the difference between a startup and a company: a startup is “a temporary organization designed to look for a business model that is repeatable and scalable.” While a company is “a permanent organization designed to execute a business model that is repeatable and scalable.” Therefore the difference is that startups look for an attractive business model, while companies already have such a business model and are focused on successfully executing it.
Startups in most cases are typically losing money over time (their burn rate) as they search for a business model they can build out, repeat, and scale. With that, time is always running out. Nothing will make you work harder than not having a way to pay the bills next month.
Overly Passionate People
Most people don’t join a startup and expect an easy nine to five. They are typically willing to work harder for longer because they are bought into the mission. This could be something as audacious as changing the world to something as niche as creating a livestreaming platform for video gamers.
When you have a mix of passionate people working to solve the same problem, something magical happens.