Guest post by Lachlan McKnight, CEO of LegalVision
Startups are synonymous with technology, rapid growth and disruption of traditional industries. Unsurprisingly, big businesses are seeing the benefits of startup culture including open plan offices, flexible work arrangements and autonomy over individual projects. In a recent Turnstone survey of 515 companies, 90 percent identified company culture as foundational to success. But before overhauling your entire business structure, it's important to understand that the startup model doesn't suit every business. You can, however, learn and import many elements of startup culture to your SME.
1. Communicate with your team
As your business grows, it is important to continue the flow of communication between management and teams. An open plan office physically breaks barriers and facilitates collaboration across marketing, business development, sales and in our instance, legal. However, this is not always feasible so take some time to update your colleagues regularly on the business' successes, challenges, and growth trajectory. Celebrate wins, and often. Every success in a startup is a team effort and no individual is seen as a more important piece of the larger puzzle. Improving office morale through recognition of the team will encourage your employees to contribute to the business' success and also feel comfortable proposing new ideas to complex problems from various angles.
2. Make Your Office a Comfortable and Fun Environment
Startups have revolutionised the physical office work environment. As already mentioned, signature features of startups are open plan offices and standing desks. This breaks down any hierarchical layout that could prevent brainstorming and the flow of ideas between teams. Work towards creating a unique vibe. Consider Facebook's headquarters, for instance, which boasts a dorm room decor with a Xbox and Guitar Hero in the rec area. Find a space and interior design that works for you and your employees. Let people express themselves and decorate their desks and workspaces. Fill the office with plants, art, couches, bean bags and if, like LegalVision, you consider pets part of your family, let them hang out in the workplace.
3. Hire People Who Share Your Vision
Startup founders look for employees who share their "why" and will work towards communicating and executing that vision. Similarly, people gravitate towards startups which align with their beliefs - whether that be disrupting the hotel industry or improving access to legal information. Startup employees want to be part of the big picture. Invest in creating a culture that attracts like-minded talent and selects people who are not only qualified for the position but who fit.
4. Focus on Your Clients
Successful startups are businesses who identified their customer's pain points and presented solutions. Startups are therefore wired to concentrate on the client or consumer's needs and wants. They invest in understanding why the customer enjoyed the experience or product, and what they thought could be better. Consumers also tend to make decisions about brands based on the culture and reputation of the firm, so nurturing a client-centric and positive culture in your business is key to appealing to consumers. Bigger business, and in particular older businesses that are already well established can certainly benefit from implementing the client success strategies that startups use such as social media and direct, regular contact with clients.
5. Growth and Innovation
Startups are fast-growing creatures and as such, need to fail often and quickly. Doing so indicates that the startup is trying new things to see what resonates best with their customers and clients. Don't stop working towards improving existing processes and innovating your product to stay in sync with tech developments. Businesses who aim to grow and expand cannot afford complacency. Thinking like a startup can then help you to achieve these goals.
As we move into exciting and uncharted waters, we can already see businesses of all sizes embracing technology. Innovation is not, nor should it be, the exclusive domain of startups. We certainly look forward to seeing our SME clients thinking like startups and disrupting their industries.
Lachlan is the CEO of LegalVision, an innovative and tech-driven law firm. LegalVision is disrupting Australia's legal industry and transforming the way in which Australian businesses access legal services. Lachlan previously worked as a corporate lawyer and investment banker in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.