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4 Things Start-ups Can Learn from Corporations

From work-life balance to good governance, there’s much to learn from the big brothers of the business world

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BY Tanya Mariano - 15 Jun 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

A lot has been said about what bigger, seemingly clunkier businesses can learn from scrappy, quick-on-their-feet start-ups, but there's a lot that smaller ventures can learn from corporations, too.

Leaner organizations may execute at faster speeds and have an iterative approach to protect implementation, says Xurpas CEO and co-founder Nix Nolledo, but corporations typically have the resources needed to implement these projects at a much larger scale. They may also have greater access to capital, he says, which is “typically the lifeblood of any organization.”

Years of experience, a vast business network, and established systems and processes also make it easier for corporations to operate smoothly.

Here are a few things that big business can teach start-ups.

1. Keep an eye on the bigger picture

Pavel Bains, founder of Singapore-based blockchain start-up Bluzelle, says corporations tend to have a more “holistic viewpoint and strategy.”

He says, “They have the ability, experience, and resources to see down the line and how it could affect various parts of their business.”

For instance, Bains says, it may be helpful to ask yourself what role branding plays even when it doesn't lead to sales. “As a start-up we often focus on what’s right in front of our face and may forget the big pictures and what those short term actions might result in.”

2. Set up systems for good governance

It may come off as boring, corporate-speak, but good governance is vital in any business.

Says Nolledo, one thing that start-ups can learn from corporations is the importance of setting up systems for good governance -- processes and policies that ensure that there is accountability and transparency in how a company is run.

This not only keeps the company compliant to relevant regulations, but also makes it more effective in terms of strategy and decision-making.

3. Review employee performance regularly

Comprehensive employee performance reviews is another thing to learn from bigger companies.

Writes entrepreneur and former Googler George Arison in this Inc. article, “Creating a review process that helps ensure that employees get real-time feedback is something small companies can take from large companies… When you work for someone, or they work for you, you should know what they think and understand it. Reviews allow employees to improve in areas where they need it.”

4. Push for work-life balance

Arison likewise argues that the corporate obsession with work-life balance is something start-ups should adopt.

While working in a start-up usually means long hours and playing multiple roles, Arison points out that overexerting yourself and your staff is counterproductive.

“Yes, many large companies work people to the bone, but there are specific work and vacation hours. You have an office. You work. You leave. The office is the office, the company is their company. When it's a start-up and you are an early employee, that line becomes blurred -- it's so much more about personality and personal investment. However, it's hard to be creative and passionate when you are overtired and overworked.”