The Two Things Startups Can Do That Most Big Corporations Can't

Challenging the Big Guys are no easy feat. Small businesses have their work cut out for them. Besides the obvious shortage of funds and man power to compete with conglomerates, there are many advantages that smaller businesses have over their larger counterparts.

Listen to most successful startups that were able to disrupt markets and they will tell you, it was the ability to listen to the market and the sheer speed of implementation that shaped their success.

1) Ability to Listen to the Market

You get what you focus on.

As a company gets bigger, more departments are formed and more responsibilities are segmented. As a result, the larger the pie to handle, the more energy is needed to keep everything running and the more distant we become from contact.

Jack Ma, chairman and CEO of Alibaba Group, at the 2009 Singapore APEC SME Summit, in essence, stated that whenever he goes to give talks to big companies – he sees numbers and KPI’s, but when he goes to give talks to small and medium sized companies – he sees passion and dreams.

Which do you think gets people’s attention?

What connects to your audience and why? Do you listen to what your market wants or needs? We are so conditioned to speak than we are to listen.

The power of the ear is as important as the power of the brain.

Get feedback from your customers, all the while considering what is best for the direction of the company. The next step relies on this.


2) Speed of Implementation.

The bureaucracy found in most Fortune 500 companies slows down the dissemination of information from bottom up as well as top down.

Startups don’t have this disadvantage.

The “big things come in small packages” ring true here. Startups like Dollar Shave Club, Instagram and Whatsapp disrupted the market despite their size.

Bigger isn’t exactly better in this case.

The speed of implementation also hinges on the word “implementation.” Implementation requires action. Action is a word a lot of people fear. The most feared word however, is change.

Adaptation is the root for our survival as a species as Charles Darwin put it. It is also the same for business.

One does not have to look any further than Nokia to understand how it managed to have a stronghold on mobile phone market share for the longest time, only to lose out in a few short years to relatively newer players like Apple and Samsung.

Being late doesn’t mean you will be last. But they are not startups right? Let’s take a look at those who are.

What about Uber? And it’s effects on the local taxi business? What about Waze? And it’s effects on GPS devices like Garmin?

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The advantages are under our nose, but we keep looking to the things we don’t have such as staff and funding when we are running our businesses.

What we should do is look at what we have. A business with a lot of flexibility and freedom to mould into market fit coupled with the speed of adaptation.

Still not convinced that we startups have it good?

The late Steve Jobs was quoted as saying in his 2010 interview at D8, of being proud of the fact that he sees Apple as “the world’s largest startup.” Organized like a startup with zero committees.

What are you waiting for?



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