Things Startups Can Learn From Corporates

While startups can innovate faster, and the culture promotes more ideation, there is plenty that startups can learn from corporations

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The startup ecosystem across the world is growing dramatically. In India alone, there are over 41,000 government-recognized startups, according to the Economic Survey 2020-21. Moreover, many corporates are implementing intrapreneurship programmes to increase the pace of innovation at their organizations.


While startups can innovate faster, and the culture promotes more ideation, there is plenty that startups can learn from corporations.

Several startups fail to grow beyond the seed stage, and as a result, move out of the market within a short span of time. In the pool of growing businesses, the success of a startup depends hugely on the right planning and execution.

Implementing some of the lessons from corporates in the early stages can help startups grow steadily, and avoid unnecessary challenges. Proven corporate strategies provide startups with the initial pointers required for a smooth entry into the market and help immensely in their growth journey.

Create brand identity: Vision and mission

Every corporation is identified by a specific set of goals that drives them. As part of this, the objective of the organization is clearly defined along with the vision and mission of the company. These statements help in building a strong brand identity and create a unique positioning for the brand.

As a startup, it is easy to lose sight of the vision over time. Having a broad vision and mission statements will help them in staying on course. While it may sound a bit inflexible, the reality is distributing energy and resources in every possible direction does more harm than good. Identify why the startup was created and then work towards that cause. As the startup grows, the vision and mission statements can be revised to address larger objectives.

Implement changes strategically

Being disruptive and exposing people's lives to changes is at the heart of the startup culture. This is not, however, something that should be taken at face value. People may enjoy or even require change, but if the change is too significant, they may resist it.

Being tactical with changes within a startup can be crucial. For instance, when there is a need to introduce new software or tools to help the company staff execute their jobs, making sure it happens gradually and without disrupting the daily routine is a factor to consider. Software release management is a procedure that large firms rely on, and a startup needs to follow it as closely as possible.

Have an operational structure

There are various departments and demarcations in the operational structure of corporations. This may seem unnecessary for startups with a lower employee count; however, it is a necessary practice that should be followed. Since every employee has a significant contribution to the organization irrespective of their job role/level, a defined operational structure allows them to have clarity on their roles and responsibilities and ultimately perform well to meet the requirements of the company. The structure should clearly state the objectives and expectations of the company so that they can be certain of their duties and execute accordingly. Although debatable, creative flexibility is a factor that needs to be included in operational structures.

Define the role of HR

Managing the candidates and ensuring good performance plays an important factor in the company’s overall growth. The HR team provides necessary support to employees along with certain perks that aid as motivating factors for better performance. Corporations do not compromise on employee wellness or engagement; startups need to follow the same footsteps and incorporate similar HR procedures step by step.

The scope for error in selecting the right team for a startup is very narrow, making it even more important to have the right person to take care of it. A competent HR person can bring people on board who could give a company the boost it needs for a breakthrough.

Spend time in market research and R&D

Market research and R&D is a very important step, especially for a niche startup. Having a great ‘idea’ is only the first step, but how that idea can be implemented, is there a need, who will pay for it, and how much; having answers to these are equally important to check the viability of the ‘idea’. For tech companies, spending sufficient time in the R&D phase of the product is critical. Most deeptech startups spend years in R&D before they launch the product.

How to go about it?

These are some of the strategies that are equally crucial for startups as they are for corporates. However, many startups hesitate to spend their time and capital in these during the initial stages due to limited resources. To overcome this challenge, startups need to look for the right mentors and business partners who can help with advice in times of need. Mentors also help in networking and finding the right connections. A more efficient way to go about it is getting enrolled in an Incubator/accelerator. Incubators/accelerators can help entrepreneurs save operational costs while providing mentorship. Furthermore, accelerators also often offer startups initial funding and help them convert business ideas into prototypes and products.

Apart from Incubators and mentors, startups should look at corporate partnerships. It can provide the right environment for startups to conduct their R&D, secure investments, and evolve business models. Some startup initiatives started by corporates are specifically focused on on-boarding innovation from startups through partnerships. They provide access to expertise, labs and insights into the current state of technology and business. They also put the entrepreneurs in touch with the designated champion within the company without interfering with the IP or independence of the startup.