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Thursday, 02 December 2021 16:42

What established businesses can learn from startups

By Guest Writer

GUEST OPINION: Startup culture has bewitched our society, with businesses and professionals looking to model their workplaces and identity to be as agile as a startup. For established businesses, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. If you have been working for a company that could afford to shake things up, here are some things you can take from startups and implement in your workplace. 

Create a playful environment 

The trope about a startup being full of young Gen Zers who are playing foosball might be overdone, but in some startups, this is actually how things look. Creating a playful environment is such an easy way to inject some fun into your office and have your employees get up from their desks to socialise with their peers. You might put some beanbags in the staff room or go all out and bring some Vintage Arcade Machines to bring a touch of nostalgia to your office space. Whatever playful elements you introduce, you should simply aim to create areas that will stimulate creativity and free collaborations - the ingredients to any good startup.

Launch early

Bringing a new product, service or even tone of voice to the market is a quick process for a startup. They believe that launching an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) means that you can get in front of your audience and then pivot your offering as it is experienced in real-time. ‘Fail fast and early’ is the mantra of many entrepreneurs but that won’t often work with the red tape that comes along with an established business. Sound familiar? If you want to challenge this in your workplace, chat with your management team to see if you can do some campaign testing or surveys with your colleagues and build a case as to why something that isn’t working needs to change, or why something needs to be launched now.

Be sure to conduct thorough preliminary research before any big launch too, however, just to make sure that you’re not aiming to ‘fail fast’. There are a number of reasons why startups fail, and whilst confidence to move isn’t one of them, a lack of preparedness to adequately fill the gap in the market they’re looking to fill absolutely is. You can ensure your launch is successful by collating your findings and presenting them to your management team in the form of a project report or presentation. Chances are that your request for an early launch will likely be approved if you can demonstrate the project is sure to deliver results.

Flexible working conditions

We have come a long way in the area of flexible working conditions, but there are still some established businesses that are vehemently resisting. Startups often have teams that are spread over the country and even across the globe, as sometimes that’s where the best candidates are. If established businesses would loosen their expectations around the physical office and how and where work needs to be conducted, then there may be more options for the company itself. Not to mention the trust it shows your employees and the opportunity to let them thrive autonomously. Not only will there be no rent to pay for a commercial space, but WHS and other administrative commitments will be less of an issue and subsequently more time saved for your management team, meaning they’ll be able to focus their attention on more fruitful pursuits. The financial and productivity benefits here cannot be understated.

Following the data

Every business starts out in search of the same mission - being exactly what their customers and clients are looking for. Of course, when years (and even decades) go by, some established businesses tend to do things or run a certain way specifically because they’ve just always done them that way. As a result, businesses can become demotivated or uninspired, and they often miss out on valuable opportunities as a result. Startups are infinitely more agile than established businesses in any given case and will devour data and pivot their offerings to be exactly what is needed today and in the future. If the company you work for is in a mature stage, then why not take the time to do some data digging and see what you find out about your industry, target audience and competitors? Failure to stay relevant may mean that the startups themselves will steal your market share and become even stronger competitors that you may not be able to contend with.


It’s not all doom and gloom for established businesses, and in a lot of cases, you might actually have the structure and resources that a budding startup only dreams of. Next time you have a strategy meeting, why not ask your colleagues, “what would a startup do?” This might stimulate some interesting conversation with ideas put forward that you may not expect.

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