Startup habits that your business should have


There are many desirable qualities that startups have, and corporations have done their best to imitate them. Consider all the businesses that began as startups, and use lean startup approaches to growing: Google, Airbnb, Uber, and Amazon among them. The Harvard Business Review found that  82% of surveyed executives were attempting to incorporate startup habits into their corporations. This is because once small businesses achieve desirable growth, it’s not uncommon for them to slow things down.

Of course, it’s hard for any big business to actually be a startup, because what distinctly separates them is the fact that, while a startup is searching for a profitable business model and building a brand, corporations have already found validity in the market. The process of combining innovative practices synonymous with startups is now called intrapreurship. Intrapreneurship refers to the entrepreneurial efforts being made within an established company. Today, more businesses are focusing their efforts on intrapreneurship.

The following are three primary habits of successful startups that any business, regardless of size and status, should follow — especially when developing or re-inventing products or services.

Customer-First Approach

Putting your customer at the forefront of the priority list is critical for startups. This is an important part of the development process where startups want to make a product or service that’s most likely to penetrate the market, and need proof and feedback to launch. One of the biggest reasons other businesses struggle with providing the best type of service or product is that they don’t have the resources to implement large volumes of feedback. But this shouldn’t always be a deterrent.

For example, Charles Phillips, CEO of Infor, is credited with operating one of the world’s biggest startups. With a customer list of over 70,000 (after he took the helm in 2010, he added big names like Ferrari and Liberty Mutual), this scale didn’t stop Phillips from running like a small business that’s aggressively trying to grow. To that effect, he sent out over 250,000 customer emails containing direct contact information for Infor’s top executives. This meant customers could even correspond with the CEO, who personally replied to every email he received.

Communication With Top Level Employees

How businesses allow communication from lower-level employees to management is a key differentiator between startups and major corporations. Startups tend to employ an open-door policy, and encourage dialogue among staff, regardless of stature. In big businesses, there is usually a clear hierarchy that limits how the flow of how communication is distributed. And many bigger companies have junior employees that don’t feel as though their opinions matter, or that they fully understand what happening behind closed doors.

Google is a perfect example of thorough communication in a big company. The tech giant employs a series of communication channels that ensure its employees never feel as if their input doesn’t matter, or that their suggestions and work is bogged down by management. Throughout Google campuses, Google cafes are made to ignite collaboration across different teams. Furthermore, the company’s TGIF meetings are an employee forum where all team members can take the opportunity to ask leaders and executives any questions about the Google, Google products, and where things are headed.


According to Harvard Business Review, the current innovation model in established companies fails between 70% to 90% of the time. Corporations tend to lean on the bureaucratic side, which can hinder innovation. But regardless of size, these businesses need to be more agile. For good reason, agility is mostly attributed to startups that are small, social, and fast-moving.

Many companies have employed the agile innovation strategy, taking a page from the startup book. For example, Intuit organizes “lean start-ins” to help employees utilize rapid experimentation to create new products and services. Whirlpool has their i-Mentors — innovation mentors that guide business teams towards coming up with resolutions to market challenges. These innovation programs and meetings are much like startup accelerator programs.

There are three primary steps to innovating like a startup: 1) immerse yourself in your customer’s environment to determine what they want or would enjoy 2) work with thought leaders outside the company 3) and work with speed and agility. Remove the stigma that everything has to be done in-house or that your business needs to invent something. Sometimes, it’s best to use tools that already exist, and combine it with your own approach. Some of the best companies, like Apple, have worked with already-existing technology and built from there.