Startups are innovative, exciting, and constantly adapting. Startups focus on getting the product to their customers quickly. They are also nimble. A startup mentality isn’t just for startup businesses, however. According to Kevin Mulleady, entrepreneur and CEO of Altru Sciences LLC, executives with a startup mentality can run their established businesses better.
Characteristics of a Startup Mentality
A startup mentality has several characteristics: leanness, agility, creativity, and an appetite for change, risk, and disruption. The startup mentality also uses a three-step process, known as a feedback loop, says Mulleady. The feedback loop allows startups to create new products, learn from their feedback, and launch better products.
The three steps in the feedback loop are build, measure, and learn. The company builds a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) based on certain assumptions. It then launches the product and measures whether the assumptions behind the product’s creation were valid. The company learns from its measurements and then uses that knowledge to create a new product or modify the old one, says Mulleady.
How to Think Like a Startup in an Established Business
Established businesses can become more innovative and sustainable through adopting a startup mindset, says Kevin Mulleady.
Companies can encourage a startup mentality in several ways, he says. One way is by changing the corporate culture to make it more agile. Changing the culture involves everything from altering the organizational chart to allow for cross-department teams to changing the accounting methods to measure engagement rather than sales. It also closely examines processes to eliminate unnecessary steps in bringing the product to market.
Another way to encourage a startup mentality is by creating innovation labs. Companies invest a significant portion of their resources into these innovation labs.
Startup Thinking Has Many Benefits
A startup mentality has several benefits for companies of all sizes. These benefits include better quality products or services, improved customer loyalty, decreased financial risk, increased business longevity, and increased business value, Kevin Mulleady says.
For example, the feedback loop is a critical concept in agile businesses. Agile businesses are resilient and can use disruptions as an opportunity to realign priorities or restructure. Mulleady says they can also get products on the market more quickly, enabling them to gain market share quickly.
The feedback loop requires excellent customer interaction and forces the established business to have these interactions. These interactions lead to an exceptional customer experience. A positive customer experience is a key to any company’s ability to build loyalty and retain customers, Mulleady says.
The startup’s concept of operating lean helps any business become more efficient in managing its resources. Processes improve, and the bottom line improves. Operating lean can also sharpen the company’s focus, Mulleady says.
Startup Thinking Has Some Challenges
However, established businesses face challenges that startups don’t when trying to implement changes. Many already have an established bureaucracy. Companies may have to implement a startup mentality in one or two departments first, then use that success to implement it further. They also need to think strategically about how to become more agile. For example, creating an innovation lab will do little good unless procurement processes are also streamlined, Kevin says.
Established companies tend to fear failure more than startups do. Sometimes this fear stems from having a lot of stakeholders and outside investors. However, failure is part of the feedback loop. If the company is too fearful of failure, it will be unable to gain the benefits of implementing a startup mentality, Kevin Mulleady says.
However, established companies must also be aware of taking the startup mentality too far. While the company wants to manage resources carefully, it doesn’t want to be cheap. Instead, the company wants to focus its resources on the most critical aspects of the service or product.
Despite the struggles, however, returning to a startup mindset can help move an established business out of a rut, engage customers, improve products, and sustain the company over the long term, he says.