by Lewis Robinson
Startups are known for their ingenuity, creativity, and innovation. They have to be, honestly, if they want to survive in a world that is dominated by colossal behemoths that have exponentially more people and resources at their disposal.
However, just because you have an established business that’s been around for a few generations doesn’t mean you can’t give it a startup mentality – one that embraces change and fosters creativity. In fact, it’s probably easier than you think; you just need a game plan.
Step One: Create a Team of Intrapreneurs.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, an intrapreneur is simply someone who works internally at a company and still maintains an entrepreneur mindset, looking for growth opportunities for the business and for themselves. They differ sharply from an employee due to their ability to work independently and not necessarily have to be told what to do every second of the day.
Creating a team of intrapreneurs is not hard, even if you already have a core group of individuals working for you. Identify which ones are interested in growth by offering them tools such as books and workshops to help develop their skills, and give them creative freedom to develop their own ideas about what’s best. In addition, don’t be afraid to let them fail. Failure is, after all, how most of us learn, so if you want them to grow, you have to let them fail.
Step Two: Open Up the Workplace.
Most employees are familiar with the concept of shared offices and open workspaces. These types of layouts are valuable for the sense of community and sharing that they foster, creating a group of workers that respect each other and work well together. In this type of environment, very few ever ask what to wear to a job interview because the atmosphere is so informal. Instead of stuffiness, they deliberately emphasize the casual.
In addition, consider giving your employees more time to actually engage in managed creativity. That’s not nearly as lame as it sounds: Managed creativity is nothing more than structured time in the middle of the workweek that allows your people to develop ideas they wouldn’t otherwise have time for. For instance, Google – continually ranked as one of the best places to work for in America – has a standing 70/20/10 rule: 70% of time is spent working on core projects, 20% on complementary projects, and 10% on side projects and learning new skills. One of the best ideas to come out of this 20% time slot? GMail.
Step Three: Find Creative Partners.
Whether you’re creative or not, it’s important for the growth of your business that you find companies that can help you grow together. Even the largest brands like Amazon or Facebook are always on the lookout for smaller firms that they can collaborate and share ideas with, or even to partner with to make up the shortfalls of their own company. A massive tech firm, for instance, may not have the ability to micromanage the minutiae of their operations, so partnering with a company that is laser-focused on that one area can reap huge rewards.
Alternatively, some companies have found massive success by outsourcing creativity to other firms and then bringing that information in-house. If you have a team of employees that are not especially creative, or are just looking for an outsider’s perspective, it may be worth hiring an outside agency to review your work and offer insights. While your people are busy executing on the main mission for the company, leaving the innovation and the creativity to others may be the best way to have a little bit of both worlds.
No matter if you’re the head of a 5,000-member organization or a three-generation, locally-owned electrical company, everyone can benefit from having a startup mentality, and with these tips, you’ll be on your way to creating one in your organization in no time.
Lewis Robinson is a business consultant specializing in social media marketing, CRM, and sales. He’s begun multiple corporations and currently freelances as a writer and business consultant.