What are the best things about startups

LEAD Innovation Blog


Start-ups and entrepreneurship are booming. Digitization in particular offers so many new opportunities for lucrative and unusual business ideas. With a lot of time and brainpower but little investment, innovative digital products can be kicked onto the market in a short time. And the success stories around millions of euros for funding in start-ups and successful exits are not ending either.

This makes many people want to found their own start-up. A start-up defines itself as the development of a new product and service in an uncertain environment, i.e. clearly as the implementation of an innovation.

And so many companies are flirting with start-ups, on the one hand as an investment option to increase value, but above all in the context of digitization. The young companies have the necessary know-how and access to new technologies in order to develop the right business models in the digital world to expand the established business fields. But a very special charm for the large, heavy companies is above all the innovative ability and speed that the small start-ups display.


Compared to the young, agile companies, these organizations are sometimes sluggish, lacking in innovation, encrusted and dusty, just before organizational burn-out. What can these traditional and established large companies learn from the fascination of start-ups?


Optimism about the new

In Central Europe in particular, we always see the dangers and risks and everything that will not work first. You start analyzing an idea until it is almost dead. Start-ups, on the other hand, bring a high level of openness and a strong optimism towards new things, ideas and innovations. You always see the positive and the opportunities behind it. This attitude should also be recommended to established companies and corporations. Instead of being afraid of changes, the new should always be welcome. True to the motto "Nothing is impossible", opportunities should always be thought of.


Trial & error as a learning process

Companies are used to the fact that at the beginning of an innovation and improvement project, extensive analyzes are always carried out in order to collect as much information as possible before starting with energy. A project is set up on the basis of these analyzes, which are mostly assumptions. Unfortunately, this foundation can be wrong, which is why start-ups deal with uncertainties and insecurities differently when they come up with new ideas.

Instead of analyzing and discussing for a long time, you start immediately and just try it out. Approaches and methods such as those of Design Thinking or Lean Startup are used. In the process, tangible, imperfect prototypes are developed relatively quickly in order to check the assumptions and uncertainties and to learn as quickly as possible on the basis of trial and error. The new product is gradually developed in loops on the basis of this learning knowledge and thus also facts.


Error culture "Wherever planing takes place, chips fall!"

This trial-and-error procedure described above also requires an error culture. But that doesn't mean that mistakes are welcome and they are celebrated. This is a false myth.

Failure culture means allowing failure. "Wherever there is planing, chips fall," says an old saying. And where you try new things and take risks, mistakes can also happen. If these mistakes are perceived as a learning opportunity to develop something further, we speak of positive mistakes.

Established companies are afraid of failure. The bosses fear for the company's image or for bonuses. But these fears prevent innovations. Therefore, trying new things should also be rewarded and not punished.


Fast teams instead of hierarchical structures

Why are startups so much faster? Quite logical, because they are smaller and more agile and thus they can coordinate more quickly, make decisions and implement new things more quickly. The big ones can't copy that, can they?

Companies can build agile and self-organized teams that can act just as effectively and quickly as start-ups. These teams get a clear mandate and the authority within the task. That means you don't have to go through all the instances to get a decision. Because that's what paralyzes organizations. In addition, the team is technically deep enough to make well-founded decisions. If that is not the case, you can consult your project owner. These agile teams, for example based on Scrum, make companies faster, more productive and more effective and at the same time the employees become much more motivated and committed.


Proximity to customers

The larger the company, the fewer the employees who have direct customer contact. With the distance to the customer, the orientation towards the customer and his needs is lost. Many even claim that they are more concerned with themselves than with their customers. One often hears the irony “the customer is disturbing”. But it's not that funny, because in fact many companies no longer understand their customers because they are not close to the market.

This is of course much easier with start-ups due to their size and it is also obvious that all employees have customer contact. But in reality the size doesn't matter. Even large companies can ensure that employees cherish and maintain contact with customers, it's just a matter of time. A time that is well invested, because the best way to understand customers and their needs is to speak to them directly.


Entrepreneurship instead of silo thinking

Entrepreneurs in companies is the motto. Act like it is your own company. Start-ups are shaped by the entrepreneurial spirit, everyone works towards a common goal.

With the size of a company, however, another way of thinking grows, namely companies within companies. Organizational units behave like individual companies that compete with other units. Silo thinking dominates. You don't focus on a common goal, rather the department goals are in the foreground. This leads to conflicts of interest, interface problems and a lack of contributions to the common vision.

Silo thinking is a real inhibitor of innovation. It is imperative that companies counter this, for example by promoting cooperation, exchange and networking, and by focusing on a common goal.


Conclusion: "Start-up culture as inspiration for companies"

Start-ups are a fascination in themselves. They bring their full performance onto the road and immediately see an effect behind every action. This kindles longing, because large companies suffer from their complexity, size and age. But that should not lead to resignation, because even established, large companies that have had a lot of success in the past can counteract this with various measures. But not simply by traveling to Silicon Valley, taking off your ties and setting up a table jigsaw.

Long-term and sustainable interventions to promote the spirit and the culture of innovation are important. Managers must take measures, for example, to increase agility, openness to innovation and entrepreneurship. Success in innovation and, not negligibly, enjoyment of work come naturally.