There is something to be said for a business that makes it through the grueling, challenging startup phase to become a successful, established business. There is also something to be said about growing a business while keeping the startup mentality.
What is the startup mentality?When your business is always in a state of creating new lines of business or product lines with the hope of them growing their own legs and branching off to create a new company, you have startup mentality. This is crucial for an entrepreneur who has a slew of ideas — take time to flesh one out into a full-fledged company, then build the next. When you try to pile too many business at once, you can’t focus on any of them.
Google is one of the best text-book examples of continuing to build startups within an established business. Google prides itself on intrapreneurship, going so far as to allow their employees time specifically for contributing to their business passion product during paid work hours, with the hope that some of the idea will filter into Google’s business-building pipeline. Many other businesses are starting to take notes from Google, building in intrapreneurial departments within their businesses.
What are the downfalls to staying in the startup mentality?There are always downfalls to every upside, and the obvious downfall in the startup mentality is that it can detract or pull time from the established company. Many businesses fall into a typical bureaucratic system that doesn’t allow for time on extraneous-seeming projects, and most departments cannot devote employees to projects that do not directly impact their work. Budgeting for the potential failures and time to create a new line-of-business or new product is also a high risk for a business that has a solid, functional business plan.
Another downfall is that the startup grind is exhausting. Growing a business that has a solid customer base is hard enough, but continually starting something new can affect the mentality and stamina needed to keep the existing business moving forward. Burnout, conflict, and disorganization can cause an intrapreneurial team to struggle with the new business plans, causing financial issues and upper-management discontentment. Straining already tapped-out resources can cause companies to rethink their staffing or even whether or not they can support the startup mentality.
What should businesses do to continue the startup mentality while growing an existing company?Businesses need to budget properly and embrace risk in order to see something positive come from a startup within an existing brand. They also need to make sure that they have the right team: one that is comfortable with the entrepreneurial process of starting a business. Entrepreneurial traits can be taught, and intrapreneurial teams can be coached to learn the skills and mindsets they need to create “the next big thing.”
Businesses need to allow adequate time to the intrapreneurial team. Employees who assist with building a startup and contributing to an existing company need to feel that they are supported in both ventures, and have the flexibility to put time and effort into whichever project requires attention. Intrapreneur ventures will likely have the entire team being held responsible for the success or failure of the project, rather than a traditional top-down system of business, at least until the startup is established.
Intrapreneurship within a business is the best of both worlds for a growing corporation. In order to compete in today’s highly competitive, global market, businesses need to constantly keep their finger on the pulse of innovation. By allowing employees to devote time to growing a new business, product, or service within a successful company, employees become most invested and interested in their work within a business. Many risk-averse entrepreneurial types are hiding within existing companies, waiting for an opportunity to use their business-building strengths, and if given the chance, can help to create great things for their employer.