Think Like a Startup, Act Like a Fortune 500 Company

October 12, 2015

Many startups crash and burn after a few short years.  There are so many startups that you’ve never even heard of. Thousands of hopeful entrepreneurs start businesses every day only to have their dreams deflated.  The thing is, your million dollar ideas don’t actually start generating profits for at least 6 years on average.  The learning curve is steep as an entrepreneur and it involves a lot of trial and error.  But you can shorten the curve, if you think like a startup and act like a Fortune 500 company.

Defy the Odds

Defy the Odds of Entrepreneurship

Think Like a Startup

Startups have a pure and undeniable innocence about them.  Their essence vibrates with the knowing that they can do anything.  Startups are fearless.  Startups are innovative.  Startups are hungry.  Really, they are literally hungry. Often, the owners have invested every penny of their savings and every waking moment into their business.  Leaving little left over for luxuries like food and sleep.  That hunger drives them to be creative because there is no Plan B. This is it!  It has to work.  No, make that – it will work!  They are driven by these thoughts.

Once most entrepreneurs start breaking even, they get comfortable.  They shift from being limitless to accepting a self-made glass ceiling.  They make the mistake of thinking that they’ve made it.  And ultimately that false sense of achievement leads to their demise.  Once you find that money-making sweet spot of course you should rinse and repeat as often as possible.  However, while you’re washing up, your competitors are looking for ways to do what you’re doing, but better.

The startup mindset must be nurtured.  Think as if you can do anything.  Embrace continuous improvement and challenge the status quo.  You have to set the intention to constantly push past what you believe is possible.  What you see isn’t all that exists.  The dreams that cause your heart to race are real.  Change the would’s, could’s, and should’s into I Will, I Can, and I am.  Be fearless, be innovative, and take chances throughout your entrepreneurial journey.  

Startups work hard and play hard.  The team loves what they’re doing and creating so much that it doesn’t even feel like work.  They are creating the playbook as they go.  Every step is an accomplishment and it’s celebrated.  When was the last time you raised a glass to acknowledge your effort?  Not your results, but the fact that you took a step towards your dreams.  When was the last time you simply celebrated yourself for doing your best?  Too long I’d say or maybe never.  Celebrate every phase along the journey.  The top isn’t your reward.  The lessons learned, genuine friendships, and wisdom gained are your true rewards.

Act Like a Fortune 500 Company

The Fortune 500 list doesn’t change that much from year to year.  This is especially true of the top 10.  It is a prestigious honor for the U.S. public and private companies listed.  Fortune Magazine’s list has been around since 1955 and is quite popular.  Most of these companies have been around for decades.  There are a variety of industries represented, but many are excluded.  Be that as it may, these companies are profitable, well-known, and have staying power.  These are the desired results of many small business owners, so it would be wise to emulate these Fortune 500 companies.

Wal-Mart, the highest ranking company on the Fortune 500 list this year, doesn’t just sell goods.  You can get your hair done while your car is being repaired.  Fortune 500 companies balance products with services.  Once they get you in the door, they don’t want you to leave.  All business owners should create offerings with this rationale in mind. It’s 10X as difficult and expensive to get a new client/customer than it is to keep an existing one.  So it makes sense to fill as many of your client’s needs as possible – within reason of course.  Let’s say you’re a dietitian.  One of your private clients keeps falling off the wagon.  Their cheat days turn into weeks.  What if you had an ebook full of healthy guilt-free snacks?  It would probably be a best seller.  Your product should always complement your services and vice versa.

Would iTunes exist without the partnership of music labels and artists?  Absolutely not.  Fortune 500 companies create strategic partnerships and joint ventures with other companies.  They marry their strengths with another company’s strengths to produce a beautiful (and revenue-generating) baby.  Genuine business relationships will accelerate your growth no matter what industry you’re in.  If you’re a fashion stylist, then collaborate with a life coach, personal trainer, or make-up artist.  You’re each in the business of confidence building.  Get together and create a package of your services or a digital product.  It’s a win tri-fecta!  Each company gets more exposure while doing less work.  Your client gets 2-for-1 and the results you promised.

If you ask any company on the Fortune 500 list who their competitors are, many of them would say no one.  Wal-Mart isn’t losing sleep over Target’s latest product mix.  Why?  Because they’ve created a category of 1.  Wal-Mart’s unique selling proposition (USP) is low pricing.  A price war with them is futile.  That’s why other retailers started matching prices.  If you can’t beat them, then at least hold onto your customer for dear life.  What’s your USP?  It could be raw honesty or simplicity or speed, etc.  Figure it out and get really, really clear.  Then, make sure that your messaging and sales copy convey your USP to your target market.  Create your own category.

If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “There are a million (fill in the blank)’s”, I’d be a trillionaire.  My response is always, “So what!”  Not a single one of them can do what you do, how you do it.  Don’t worry about what your so-called competitor is doing.  Your secret sauce cannot be replicated.  

It’s time to think like a startup and act like a Fortune 500 company.  Yes, you are technically a small business, but you don’t have to act like it.  To get to the next level you’re going to have to stretch yourself.  A new mindset and new habits are needed.  I’d love to hear what positive changes you’re going to make.  Leave a comment below so I can cheer you on.  Remember, change is good!  

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