What big business can learn from startups

In today’s fast-paced startup culture, there is an often unspoken ambition held by many startup companies to “join the big leagues” and become large corporations.

As businesses grown and evolve, certain magical qualities are often lost. Today, I’d like to touch on a few qualities which big businesses could learn from young startups.

I’m not a business owner, or a CEO. I’m not a venture capitalist or a startup evangelist or any other title like that. I’m an observer. Here’s what I see.

Small teams get tasks done

This can also be phrased as; “too many cooks spoil the broth”. I firmly believe in the power of the two pizza rule (if you can’t feed your team with two pizzas, your team is too large). Pioneered by Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame, this methodology keeps teams focussed and efficient, while also forcing everyone to work together towards a clear goal.

Remove roadblocks

Having smaller teams means fewer people working on each goal. While this has both it’s pros and it’s cons, it’s a way of removing roadblocks. Red tape, admin and endless email are other common roadblocks as teams grow.

Remove these by thinking lean. Set up a group chat system (such as Slack), set clear team goals and expectations.

Encourage JFDI (within reason)

If your team needs a server to be set up in order to quickly test a product, that team should have license to set that server up without having to go through red tape. At Woo, the most red tape we have for those kinds of transactions is sending the request to Dom, our office superhero, to handle the payment.

Legislation for setting up servers, using products and trialling software is entirely unnecessary red tape.

Set clear expectations

Set your expectations, set a timeline with clear targets, and get out of the way.

Executive summary

Considering the above points, it’s easier to sustain a clear and scalable team who are all working towards the same goals. Removing red tape, encouraging the teams to own their work and keeping teams small and focussed are tools which can work for any business, even those who want to play in the big corporate leagues.


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