“Act like a startup” means what exactly?

Posted by on Mar 31, 2015 in MyPOV

“Act like a startup” means what exactly?

Startups are in it to win it. They have a strong identity because they’re small, and close to their founding roots. The people in charge have created something out of passion, vision and drive. They are fierce, fired up and have an energy that is hard to match. They are still in that ideal stage of growth where the glass is half full and anything is possible. So, what happens as a company grows, ages and ultimately moves away from the “startup mentality?” How can we get back to that? Or at least tap into it to spur passion and innovation.

Dump your baggage.

Or, if you can’t throw those heavy bags altogether, at least get rid of some of the clothes you don’t wear anymore. All too often those of us with tenure allow past client comments, decisions and sensitivities to weigh down every decision made. This stifles growth and ultimately will lose the client. No one wants a partner who is afraid to bring new thinking to the table.

Be a partner, not a slave.

Every time you nod and say “yes” without thinking first about whether it’s really a good idea, you’ve just undersold your value. Clients hire us to challenge and add to their portfolio, not be a slave to their every whim. There is nothing wrong with a client contributing, or sharing new ideas, but just like any idea an agency would bring to the table, it should be put through the filters of strategic alignment, audience effectiveness, etc. Just because they’re paying the bills doesn’t mean they’re always right. The client will respect you more and be willing to stick around longer if you challenge them with good reason.

Don’t get bogged down by paperwork.

Cumbersome protocols and processes can be the bane of good works existence. The more time spent worrying about time sheets and bottom lines, the less time spent on good ideas and solid client work. Focus on the positive energy your work is bringing to the world, the difference you will make for your clients and the success will follow for your company. Produce stellar work, and the money will come. Clients will want to spend more with you and new clients will be seeking you out. Produce mediocre work and you will have to put in twice the effort just to keep what you have. It’s the basic law of supply and demand.

Have fun.

The number one reason clients and talent love to work for startup companies is their amazing culture. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, guess what — it shows. Take a breath, remember why you got into this business. Think about the cool sh!t you’re doing… about the amazing difference your work is making in the world… About the awesome, inspiring people you get to work with. Have fun, be inspired, spread the love. Every one of us has the power to change our environment. Make your influence a positive one and others will follow.

Feature photo courtesy of iStock & 20th Century Fox.