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Run Like a Start-Up

Re-Injecting Entrepreneurism and Start-Up Culture into Your Organization


Growing from 0 to 100 in a micro second. How did these two guys go from nothing to Apple - a world class innovator with boat loads of $$$$ - in short order? Or, for that matter, how do any of these small modern startups end up challenging and defeating big and established companies? They do it by living by different rules and breaking some old rules that no longer apply. The great thing is that you can run, grow and manage like them. We’ll show you how.


But first, the why. Why should you care? After all, your company is doing fine. That high tech stuff doesn’t apply to you. But it does. No matter who you are, what your industry, you’re facing the waves of change. Companies like Blockbuster and Kodak invented their industries but ignored when the industry rules changed. They could have lead the change, and they knew it was coming. But they couldn’t shake off the bureaucracy, the “move slow” rules and they got left behind by faster moving, more risk taking underdogs. They got crushed by start-ups.


Maybe you need a quote from a really smart person. " (there is a).. crisis of a generation of managers complete unprepared for the challenges they now face. You see, it used to be possible that you could succeed in your career by being an great executer, by being disciplined, by being efficient. Those are all still incredibly helpful skills. But people have to augment that with the AND. You have to be a great operator AND you have to learn to think and act like an entrepreneur." - Scott Anthony, Harvard Professor. (he’s the smart dude at the bottom)


The problem with business as usual is that it doesn’t work anymore. It’s playing by old rules that value structure over flexibility, encourages people to defend the status quo rather than look at new things and new ways, values predictability to the point that no one tries anything unpredictable, and get’s everyone to thing that though the numbers alone and from your desk you can understand the complexity of human behavior and customer needs. Business as usual has traditional companies stuck. They don’t know what to do or how to get their people moving, trying new things and growing the company. They have lost their entrepreneurial mojo.


10 Things you can learn from Start-ups

Start-ups run themselves by different rules that work in more modern times. They are more designer of businesses than managers. They think about doing more with less, thinking big while acting small, learning along the way and using failure to inform decision. That doesn’t mean that you stop everything your doing and mimic them. It just means that there are some things they focus on that you should adapt into the way you work. So let’s get under and learn more.


1. Purpose Driven + Passion Fueled Start-ups they need everyone’s “all.” People working just for the money don’t go the extra mile. Start-ups communicate their mission - how are they changing they world and making life better - at every change they get. They make sure new hires know the mission, they train people on it, they imbed it in everything they do, they write it on the walls. And they communicate the way they want people to act. Facebook has posters that say “move fast and break things” so that people know not to get slowed down in buracracy and fear of failure. They make it clear and present every day to inspire people to do great things.


2. Will to Win, Culture of Can Do Start-ups know that once you get big you start moving slow. So they infuse their culture with the values of winning and doing. This means that they don’t let being small or not having the money of your competitor stop them. In fact, they make sure it fuels them. They get their people to take pride in doing more with less, finding smart ways forward and always beliving in their ability to do great things despite their size. The 9 person team at Instagram don’t use their lack of size and resources as an excuse. Instead they worked hard for a year and sold their company for $1 billion.

David vs. Goliath. (We are David and we’re taking this dude down.)


3. Foster Collaboration (we win, we do) Nothing great is really done by individuals. It’s done by teams. And more of the work we do is collaborative depending on our ability to get everyone working together. This means de-emphasizing departments and roles and getting people to focus on the project. Start-ups create small teams of highly talented people from around the organization and give them a challenge. It’s not about the sales team doing this but about all of us delivering a result. This also means that people are not owners of ideas. Great ideas need to be championed by groups and it is the group that must be rewarded, not one individual.


4. Value Fast + Done Change happens so fast that we no longer have 9 month or a year to get something big done. We have months to weeks. People need to move faster. But business as usual draws things out and slows us down with the bureaucracy. Start-ups focus on getting things done in less time. To do this they often break the big picture down into chunks - what can we get done this week? In the next 24 hours? The focus is always on delivering something. They hold 15 minute meetings every day to get people on point and moving. They also don’t let perfection get in the way. Everyone knows that it is better to get something done that to keep talking about how perfect it could be.


5. Find the “Right” people. Start-ups know that culture matters and finding people that fit matters as well. Everyone wants high talent people. But start-ups know that talent without passion and an interest in what you are doing doesn’t produce results. Make sure you find people who are going to go the extra mile for you. Sometimes this means hiring someone who doesn’t have the “right” degree but instead the “right” attitude. Hire people who feel like entrepreneurs.


6. Serve People + Measure “Success” Companies have all kinds of metrics to measure success - ROI, IRR, NSV. But sometimes this can be blinding. Successful companies remember that success starts with consumers which means making sure you know their needs and what they want. Your people need to know we serve real people. This means getting out of the office often and talking with real, live people. This also means having non-financial goals as well. Create goals that are less tangible that measure how people feel about you, what feedback you get, how do you stack up. The numbers alone can’t tell you if people love you.


7. Learn Rapid, Fail Fast The world is way to complex for any one person to understand everything and predict every outcome. This is why start-ups focus less on what people know and more on what they can learn. To make decisions they encourage people to go out and prototype their idea to see what happens, not prove that they were right all along. By prototyping ideas early and cheaply people are given permission to take risks and learn from the failures rather than avoid it all together. Ask your people to go out an learn something about their ideas rather than to prove to you they know what they are talking about.


8. Room for Thinkers + Doers That cubical farm you have is killing your people’s potential. Start-ups know that the space you are in affects the way people work. They make their spaces more creative, less formal. They break down wall so that people will work together and share information. They make sure people have the whiteboards, chalkboard walls and tools needed to express ideas and explain things. What is your space like? How could you change it? How could you make your space work for your people rather than have a space for people to work in?


9. Create the Hybrid Organization Hierarchy and departments has it’s uses. It makes sure you can manage the details and maintain accountability. But to this you need to create networks. Networks allow people to work across boarders which is what you need when you ask your people to do new things. The best way is to find volunteers - people who champion change - put them on teams that report not to their boss but to a senior team tasked with making change happen. These teams are empowered to develop ideas, pull information and resources from around the organization and deliver solutions back to the company.


10. Create Future Focus Start-ups know you can’t just focus on the end of month results. As important as they are they are not the full story. You need to make sure everyone is thinking about the future. What might change in our industry, in our technology, over the next year or two? What new opportunities do we need to be ready for? What trends might shift the rules of the game? Get everyone reading about trends, new tech, new ideas and the lead regular discussions about where you want to be in the future.


YOU CAN DO IT!

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Run like a start up storybook