5 Things Businesses Can Learn from Entrepreneurs

Mature businesses generally have an aversion to risk. We get it. They are at the top of their game because they have been excellent at scaling a proven business model, building complex processes and getting teams to ‘line up’. For mature businesses it’s about executing on a well-defined business model. The overwhelming momentum of these organizations pushes hard against risky innovation.This is what entrepreneurs do well. Solve a problem in a new way, take the risk but get all of the benefits of eventually winning.

Considering new products or trying to find new markets is disruptive. You aren’t desperate to do it, things are going well for the moment.Yet if you don’t make the effort your business is at risk to be taken out by some unseen force: a business who uses new technology or goes to market in a new way. Entrepreneurs are faster to market and don’t operate with all of the expenses that are characteristic of mature businesses.

You too can create an internal ‘entrepreneurial’ program that will help you test new ideas, create new customers and keep up with the rapid pace of change that technology and entrepreneurship are creating. That’s what The Start Exchange is all about.

Bigger companies have a great deal to gain by ‘thinking and acting’ like startups these days. I’m a firm believer that you need to start with an innovation strategy. At the very least, mature businesses should assess the risks that are lurking if they don’t innovate. The best way to do this is to step into the shoes of the startup entrepreneur to consider the possibilities.

Here are 5 characteristics of entrepreneurs that big business can learn from:

1. Think differently about a problem – Get Outside of What You Know

Once you have defined the business problem ‘clean-slate’ the solution outside of using your current products.

This may mean blowing up your revenue models or addressing a new market with an add-on technology. Articulate the problem and ask customers and non-customers how they would solve this problem.   Approach entrepreneurs to ‘crowdsource’ a solution for you.  You will find some very new thinking from an audience that is comfortable approaching a problem in a new way.

The combination of emerging technologies and new ways to do business will give mature companies a way to create several ‘roadmaps’ of possibilities

2. Connect to a Clear Motivation for Building Something New

Entrepreneurs have a story about why they are building their company. What was the initial spark that turned them on and got them motivated to take the riskier path? Anyone who wants to behave like an entrepreneur will have to be motivated at their core to do what it takes to take a new idea in market. That story will need to connect at an emotional level because it is the underpinning of “why” we are going to all of this trouble in the first place.  Tell that story, it is key to keeping your team motivated and customers beating a path to your door.

3. It’s Not A Democracy, Make Decisions and Move

Get rid of ‘alignment’ exercises. Entrepreneurs don’t have to get everyone’s buy-in to move forward. Of course they need to be great leaders and get the team excited and on board with their vision. When it comes to the day to day decisions, a startup leader doesn’t have time to get everyone’s input. They have to move fast to capture a market and that means taking decisive action.

4. Permission to fail and freedom to pivot

Failure is a big part of the life of an entrepreneur. If you think about it a startup company is one giant science experiment! Find potential customers, test out your idea, build something test it out and do it all over again. The scientific method is a very good proxy for what a startup does. The idea of getting it perfect and correct first time out is actually absurd. Get into the mindset that you are testing, gathering information. learning and test again.

5. Get comfortable with Ambiguity and Fear

Great entrepreneurs have all had those moments when they ask “why am doing this”? There is something about the mental battlefield that most entrepreneurs have to face from time to time that sets them apart from mere employees. Fear, whatever that means in your situation, is a tremendous motivator.  If people are treating your project in a ‘9 to5’ manner, they don’t have the motivation needed to make a new business work.  Further team members need to be comfortable in an environment where processes aren’t created yet and the market isn’t exactly clear. They are there to build this new entity.

There has never been a more important moment for mature businesses to get an understanding about how startups operate. The pace of new technology introductions continues to increase. New business models grow fast because of this. Mature businesses can benefit if they understand and implement startup techniques.

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