High-Impact Entrepreneurship

12 startup culture secrets everyone can learn from

Reprinted from OnlineMBA.  See original article here.

Startups are famous for their innovation, freedom, and rags-to-riches culture, and while not everyone can or wants to be a part of a startup, there’s still a lot to learn from what goes on in these organizations. Finding happiness, focus, and motivation are just a few of the cues everyone can take from startups that can lead into success and achievement, both personally and professionally. Read on to learn about these and more secrets from startups that we can all learn from.

  1. Happiness is key:

    Some of the most successful startups in recent history know that happiness is the lifeblood of innovation and growth. Just look at Google, whose employee benefits are legendary, or Zappos, whose CEO actually wrote the book on happiness. But you don’t have to be a part of a startup to love your job, and anyone can benefit from the principle of loving what you do. Empowerment, satisfaction, and a culture of happiness are all important tools for breeding success.

  2. Make a plan, or plan to fail:

    Business plans are more than just a vehicle for attracting capital: they’re the blueprint for a business. But even if you’re not interested in wooing millions out of investors, a solid plan is key. Self-awareness and a plan for the future can take you places, whether you’re a business owner, recent graduate, or a rank-and-file employee.

  3. Find your focus:

    Many startups these days are on a mission to simplify. That is, boiling down to the real heart and purpose of the business to find out what’s truly the most important focus for the future. This is an important mission for just about anyone. You simply can’t be everything for everyone, and you’ll suffer if you try. Find out what’s really important to your mission, and focus on that.

  4. Safety nets are for suckers:

    Some entrepreneurs keep their “real job” in the early stages of their startup, and while that can provide a sense of stability, it can also keep you from going “all in.” When you’ve chosen your path, stick to it. Don’t waffle, don’t hold on to a security blanket, just take the plunge and fully commit. Without a safety net, you’ll be forced to work harder, and smarter, and push your ideas and achievement to the next level.

  5. Don’t lose your soul:

    As startups grow, some lose their fun and inspiring small company culture and begin to move into corporate drone territory, but the best are still able to hold on to the excitement of their early days. Anyone can learn from this: remember why you got started, hold on to your enthusiasm, and stay in a constant state of renewal.

  6. Creativity is golden:

    Startups represent some of the best developments in the worlds of creativity, innovation, science, and technology, but tapping into those worlds is not exclusive to startups. Anyone can be creative and innovative, bringing new ideas and excitement to whatever it is you’re doing.

  7. Hunger is fuel for success:

    There’s no doubt about it, startups work hard for their success, and often, it’s fueled by hunger and desire: for a better life, to share new developments with the world, to be embarrassingly rich. Startups are often made up of highly motivated individuals, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. Find your hunger, find your motivation to push through to your own success.

  8. Knock down the walls that stand between you and success:

    Startup culture embodies a feeling of freedom, and a belief that you really can do anything if you set your mind to it. Startups fight against constraints, and that’s an important lesson for anyone. Although very real red tape or limitations (even self-imposed ones) can hold you back, do whatever you can to step over them and achieve your goals.

  9. Remember that every dollar counts:

    Early stage startups are often quite scrappy. Amazon famously turned old doors into desks, not wasting money on expensive furniture. Even if you’ve got the money to spend, watching your pennies is a smart business and personal move.

  10. Find (and give) flexibility:

    Many startups encourage their employees to set up and explore to do their own thing and discover great ideas. Why doesn’t everyone do that? Whether you’re a small business owner, manager, or employee, give yourself the time and flexibility needed to find your creativity and explore ideas that feed your soul, not just the immediate bottom line.

  11. Run far, far away from politics:

    Great startups run on merit and openness, and although it’s naive to think there’s a complete absence of politics and gossip within startup organizations, they don’t seem to suffer from an excess of cattiness. Avoid office gossip, give credit where credit is due, and judge ideas on their merit, not who came up with them.

  12. Make mistakes now and then:

    Without risk, there is little reward, and anywhere there’s risk, there are bound to be mistakes. Startups these days seem to reward mistakes and failure, understanding that they’re key to the development of the business and finding out what really works. Failure hurts, but learning from your mistakes and taking risks until you get it right can help you strike gold.


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