Small but Mighty: 9 Lessons Big Corporations Should Take from Startups


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When you’re looking for business advice, huge corporations such as Google and Netflix seem like the ones to ask. And yeah, these giants do know a little something about success. But they don’t know it all.

While their tactics are somewhat effective, don’t limit yourself to large companies. It may come as a surprise that small startups can often be more efficient strategy-wise. They don’t get bogged down by introducing innovation, sophisticated hierarchical structures, and distant CEOs. There’s plenty of insights to catch.

Here’s our list of top 9 business lessons big organizations should take from small startups. Fasten your seatbelts! ?

Flexibility & Adaptation

Change will come whether you want it or not, and the only thing left to do is adapt. But when you run a large-scale company, adjusting your strategy is one heck of a challenge. We’re talking about numerous omnidirectional departments that have to embrace new rules. With startups, though, things are different. They’re great at attacking problems promptly and effectively and adjusting to the changing conditions.

Analyze and adjust your current approach to make it more flexible on all levels. By all means, make flexibility a part of your corporate culture.

Team Spirit

A tight-knit team is a must-have for any successful company. Disengaged and unhappy employees cost the U.S. around $500 billion in productivity a year. On the other hand, workers who genuinely love their colleagues perform way better because they believe in their company’s ideology and constantly want to improve as professionals. It’s a part of the growth mindset concept.

Okay, we got it — maintaining awesome team spirit is a necessity. But how do you do it? Let’s take a look at startups. While it is clearly easier to connect, make friends, and stay on good terms in a small crew, promoting team spirit in a big corporation is also possible.

And Here’s How:

Invest in regular team building events for all departments;

Host relevant (and enjoyable!) workshops;

Arrange lunch breaks (and pay for them if you want to go the extra mile);

Create fun workspaces (game tables, colorful & comfy furniture, video games etc);

Encourage constructive praise and feedback (in-person or online).

Google does it. So can you!

Quick Testing

When you’re new to a market (read: when you’re running a startup), you naturally have no choice but to constantly test your product, model, and strategy. For large companies, though, things are different. They usually don’t have time for testing, let alone quick testing. Instead, they often settle with a vetted option. And when corporations do test, it takes them ages.

Check every single detail, track every change that comes with the new approach. Test one thing at a time and watch your statistics. Analyze what works and doesn’t work for your company, and adjust your product to make it the best on the market. Testing is pretty underestimated.

Less Bureaucracy

Bureaucracy is creativity’s greatest enemy. Yes, you can’t entirely wipe it out, but there are definitely ways to reduce it. Like startups do.

In small companies, employees and founders work closely together, share ideas, and brainstorm on every aspect of the business, from product to customer experience. Such collaboration gives staff the freedom to express their thoughts and offer suggestions. A cool way to promote innovation, right?

You may be thinking, “Yeah, right, try sharing ideas in a big corporation.” We hear ya. Here’s what we suggest to minimize strict hierarchy and encourage creativity in a large company:

Optimize all process and inner communication;

Carry out short questionnaires (to get ideas & feedback);

Find a leader in each department who will convey creative notions to management;

Maintain a friendly atmosphere where every employee feels safe and respected;

Accept constructive criticism.

Remember: your company can grow only if you make the best out of each employee’s capabilities.

Open to New Stuff

New programs, collaborations, technologies. Anything, really. We’ll never stop emphasizing how crucial it is to keep your mind open to new opportunities. And large companies aren’t an exception.

In big organizations, implementing change and experimenting is challenging. It takes extra time, energy, and money (especially with your tech stack). That’s why so many companies turn a blind eye to new opportunities and follow the beaten track. Well, that’s not the best strategy. If you want to catch up with your competitors, always keep an open mind!

Continuous Learning

Okay, so you’re open to new stuff, regularly test your products, and know how to solve problems efficiently? Well done! But there’s one more thing — continuous learning. It’s something all companies provide to their teams at the beginning (which is why startups are better at it), but neglect as the business grows.

Make sure your employees never stop learning and growing professionally. It doesn’t have to be every week — just a once-a-month training or workshop will already make a difference.


Corporations have the reputation of avoiding failure and going down the familiar road. Scared to make a mistake, they usually take the same path. Startups, on the other hand, accept failure and use it to grow. So should corporations.

Easier said than done, right? Not exactly. There’s one proven lifehack to embrace failure — brainstorming.

During brainstorming, a team incubates new ideas and eventually finds a suitable solution to the problem. This way, brainstorming eliminates the fear of failing. A successful company is a combination of thousands of days of trial and error — always keep that in mind.

Soft Skills First

Imagine you’re looking for an SMM manager. What are your main requirements? Several years of writing experience? Instagram proficiency? These are hard (or technical) skills. They make an applicant look more credible, but they’re not enough for a great professional.

Startups know the power of soft skills. They hire talent (staff) first of all based on creativity, emotional intelligence, and the ability to take criticism. Why soft and not hard skills, though? They take longer to acquire, which makes them more valuable. In the long run, this strategy improves your products, brings more leads, and increases revenue.

As you can see, having a degree is a great perk, but what really matters is who you are as a person and who you’re striving to become.

Speed of Problem-Solving Process

When a problem arises in a large company, the following process takes place: you discover it, discuss it in a group, consult with the manager, ask the department head for approval, solve it and then report effectiveness. Startups’ problem-solving processes are way shorter.

They don’t have as many people in a team, which saves plenty of time. That, in turn, accelerates the sales cycle and brings you more cash.

So, once again, check your work-process strategy. Does it really have to take so long to fix some issue? Divide the process into several stages and shorten them as much as possible. Trust us, time management works wonders!

Wrapping Up

It all starts with a mindset. Startups are the future of business. They’re smart, creative, and quick — everything a modern market demands. To catch up with these “newcomers” large corporations must learn and follow new strict rules. So stay open to new opportunities, never stop learning, create a friendly atmosphere in your workplace, and profit will follow ?

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