Which aspects of start-up culture can bigger businesses adopt?

working at a start-up

Start-up culture is famed for its innovation and outside-the-box thinking, something many businesses with a rigidly-defined system can find difficult to emulate. Despite this, incorporating many of the qualities of start-up culture into the inner workings of a big business is not impossible, and many globally-renowned companies are proof of this.

What exactly is start-up culture?

Many of the world’s leading tech brands, such as Google, gain recognition for their attempts to try and preserve the original start-up culture that led to their rise in the first place. But reaching a definitive conclusion on just what this intangible spirit is, can be hard. 

Commonly identified with bean bags and beer fridges, start-up culture generally refers to the spirit of creativity and innovation. “Start-ups strive to change or disrupt existing business models and ways of working,” says Tom Lakin, Innovation Manager at Resource Solutions, “this kind of dedication to looking at things from a different perspective can often give a company the edge over competitors.”

Encouraging a start-up culture to thrive is achievable by businesses of all sizes and yields many invaluable rewards to help organisations move forward with strength into the future.

Encourage the entrepreneurial spirit

“Successful start-ups create a ‘fail-fast’ culture,” says Lakin, “where it is okay to fail, but important to recover quickly and learn from it, providing a breeding ground for new ideas and fresh thinking.” Employees working for big businesses will tend to have their work carved out for them, offering limited opportunities to exercise innovative spirit. Some companies have started to encourage more autonomy and freedom in certain areas, a practice believed to help cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit and inspire employees to stay creative.

Breaking down barriers to collaboration

In big businesses, many employees can be siloed into specific areas of work, whether its administration, marketing or recruitment, so the opportunity to cross lines with other disciplines can be limited. “Unlike many established larger organisations, start-up culture allows fluid collaborative groups to develop organically due to lack of hierarchy and departmental boundaries,” says Lakin. “This helps employees communicate more effectively and arrive at new ideas together, each contributing their own areas of expertise to the process.” This collaborative culture often allows people to realise potential they never knew they had and form stronger working relationships with co-workers.

Listen to new ideas

In hierarchical enterprises, those in leadership positions tend to call the shots and make most of the important decisions. While in a lot of cases this is correct given their greater level of experience, employees at all levels will be able to contribute ideas in some shape or form within a start-up culture. Nurturing an environment that encourages the expression of ideas is an effective way to break down the complacency and lethargy many big businesses can suffer from. It is important this principle is not only encouraged in employees but also understood by those in power, as listening is just as important as the expression of new ideas.

Our Innovation team is constantly researching emerging technologies to help our clients innovate their recruitment processes. Download our Innovation Lookbook to see some of the start-up successes we have identified.