The following answers are provided by The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.
1. Question the Status Quo
One motto at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley is to question the status quo. Too often companies continue down a previously agreed upon path even though it is no longer the best course of action. While you don’t want to be fickle, you should challenge past decisions if they no longer seem right. Startups excel at changing quickly, adapting to new situations and winning new markets.
- Bhavin Parikh, Magoosh Test Prep
2. Seek Efficiency
In larger corporations, there are a lot of inefficiencies that make simple tasks and goals hard to accomplish. Typical things like email — usually used to help you accomplish a goal — are often times turned into endless threads of “who is going to finish this project” rather than simply getting it done.
- Stacey Ferreira, MySocialCloud
3. Be Fast and Flexible
Speed brings value, not disaster. Achieving high speed and delivering the right product (outcome) is an art. A company must be flexible on everything to be able to work fast and deliver quickly — from working hours to cost structure. To me, it seems like only few enterprises can have it in its world hall of fame.
- Arek Skuza, iTraff Technology
4. Create a Positive Company Culture
No matter how big or how “techy” a company is, the employees there still need motivation and still need to treat work as fun. Company culture is as essential in a large corporation as it is in a four-person startup because no matter what, people need to push day in and day out to make a change in the world and get their product into the hands of consumers.
- Bryan Silverman, Star Toilet Paper
5. Limit Bureaucracy, Red Tape and Excessive Approvers
Startup culture is known for its energy and fast productivity. Successful startups generally accomplish this by hiring strong leaders and involving less people in decision-making processes. One lesson large companies can learn from startups is how to limit bureaucracy, red tape and excessive approvers. This would empower larger companies to create smaller teams that make faster decisions.
- Ben Rubenstein, Yodle
6. Focus on Targeted Marketing
Focus on targeted marketing campaigns rather than outdated, non-targeted forms of advertising such as generic full-page ads in newspapers. Embrace social media, and you’ll find that superior results are delivered for much less money.
- Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance
7. Learn the Value of Working Remotely
Understand the value and efficiency of teams working remotely and not on typical business hours. Big companies waste a lot of valuable time on internal meetings and having employees commute to the almighty “office.” Although face time is important from time to time, the flexibility of remote work creates efficiencies and an energized team that’s willing to answer email at night or on weekends.
- Matt Murphy, Global Citizens Travel
8. Step Outside Your Empire
When my first software company got bought, I entered into a different world. As CEO of a startup, I would spend at least half of my day (often more) with prospective clients and current clients. As an exec at a large company, barely any. Regardless of size, a business is a breathing organism fed by customers. Step outside the ivory tower, and spend time getting to truly know your lifeblood.
- Matt Ehrlichman, Porch
9. Make Small Investments First
Make small investments and quickly quantify the results prior to making huge financial commitments. Large companies tend to overanalyze everything and seek massive amounts of data prior to making massive financial commitments. Startups tend to make small investments and measure the impact of their efforts faster, which in turn allows them to pivot faster and adapt to what they learn.
- Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors
10. Don’t Be a Bottleneck
Startups generally share a collaborative atmosphere, while in big companies you can encounter “bottlenecks” in which the workflow, productivity and rate of output are limited because of the need for constant approvals. Big companies need to revisit, update and eliminate processes that inhibit employees from getting more done.
-Fabian Kaempfer, Chocomize
11. Innovate Through Experimentation
Big companies enforce controls for every dollar invested and every hour spent; they need to be quantified, analyzed and optimized. The problem is that it kills the ability for ideas to grow and, more importantly, for assumptions to be questioned. Startups by nature have to validate their ideas, so they value experimentation and exploration.
- Mike Cuesta, CareCloud