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3 Lessons Large Companies can Learn from Startups

Large Companies can regain their innovative edge easily by observing startups just entering the market.

While large companies reflect the success they have achieved, there are many lessons they can learn from start-ups grappling to achieve their own fame in the marketplace.

There is a popular perception that when a business becomes established in the market, they have “arrived”, with large revenues and a large number of staff. The business’ product or service is getting traction and investors are being rewarded for their financial contributions.

However as these companies grow, innovation typically takes a backseat to sticking with what works. Growth brings structure and process into businesses as they become less operationally nimble. The innovative edge that contributed to its success often goes stale.

These organizations can regain innovation through observing the practices and products agile start-ups have implemented. Specifically, large organizations should look at how startups:

1. Achieve Goals at a Lower Cost through Innovation

With the availability of venture capital in Canada anemic and angel investors hard to find, entrepreneurs are forced to find cost-effective ways of making their idea into a viable product or service. If you need to find a cheaper way of doing something, ask a startup. Whether it’s discovering innovative ways to make a product cheaper, or using new, inexpensive marketing channels, these companies will find a better way to reach goals while enabling them to better track a return on their investment. Many entrepreneurs have even found ways of raising their own capital through crowd funding.

2. Utilize Technology

Large companies naturally implement marketing tools which often become “sacred cows”. These products earn a place in the company because of how innovative they were at the time, but have since become common place.

Why use PowerPoint when you can use Prezi, or using Evernote during a meeting instead of taking paper notes. These are just a few simple examples.

New companies don’t have a technological legacy within its operations, and in some cases, it’s startups creating new technology larger companies would find beneficial.

3. Build & Sustain its People

Start-ups are at the forefront of team-centred work environments. While large companies have continued to operate within a rigid, hierarchy-based office structure, entrepreneurs are developing new ways of working – and seeing results. Doing away with offices, stuffy cubicles, and desktop computers, startups are developing office environments that support and encourage team work, and invite a new generation of innovators to join its ranks.

One large company that is very successful in this regard is Google. The tech giant recently opened a new office in Toronto, with many perks to help retain and nurture its employees.

Where to go

Startups are no longer as elusive as the Angel Investors that fund their companies. With the growth of the internet and the amazing resources available on it, one doesn’t have to look far to discover what startups are doing:

  • Pick up a startup or tech magazine, such as Fast Company, Inc. or Entrepreneur, or visit websites such as Mashable.com
  • Visit the website of your local startup community
  • Attend business development events to speak with entrepreneurs.

By taking these steps, large companies can regain an innovative edge that has become dull over time. When your customers notice and your revenues increase, you’ll realize it was worth it.

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About Greg Markey

Greg is a social media and digital marketing consultant who loves writing about business, technology, innovation and startups. He holds a degree in political science and history from St. Francis Xavier University, as well as a diploma in Journalism from Algonquin College. He lives in Edmonton with his wife and three kids..

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