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What Can Established Businesses Learn from Startups?

As a growing number of developers are drawn to the excitement and pace of working with innovative startups, medium-sized and large businesses are facing a growing skills gap and the challenge of competing with startups for talent to fill those gaps.

 

So, how can established businesses overcome these issues and retain employees?

 

Firstly, it’s important to understand what exactly attracts talent to startups. For developers, the appeal often lies in the creative, agile environments startups create. They can test a concept, put it into practice and if it doesn’t work, fail fast and try something else with no hard feelings. This culture of promoting innovation is often sought out by developers who don’t want to feel constrained by set processes and pre-conceived ideas of what success looks like.

 

Fortunately, this level of agility is also being put into practice by bigger businesses, many of which are starting to adopt a fail fast mentality to allow their employees to try new things – as long as they quickly learn from mistakes and roll back any changes accordingly. By adopting this approach, businesses will be able to stimulate innovation and attract a wider pool of talented workers while also retain existing employees.

 

Collaboration should also be encouraged within established businesses so developer teams aren’t working in silos. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is to create small, high-performance teams or business units that can act like mini-startups within the enterprise. These units allow developers and other team members to behave as they would in a startup environment, but with the benefits of operating within a bigger organisation – which tends to be a low-risk environment with strong financials and a sense of stability.

 

Nurturing talent

 

While businesses are looking to attract new talent, they must also do more to retain their existing workforce by providing the right training to nurture their skills and avoid losing out to the startup appeal. In the last few years, we have seen technology democratise education which is something businesses should take advantage of to upskill their workers.

 

Technology is playing a huge role in filling the skills gap as individuals and organisations are no longer reliant on conventional sources of training. It’s no longer necessary to enrol in classroom courses, paying people to teach those courses, and needing that cost to be signed off by line managers.

 

Instead, individuals can now sign up to online courses and access a range of free resources on these subjects. Additionally, established organisations naturally provide more stability for a workforce and with that traditional organisational structure comes clearer career paths.

 

Tried and tested policies

 

While established companies can learn a lot from startups, they also have just as much to teach thanks to their years in the industry. These organisations already have tried and tested processes and policies in place and have built up a great deal of knowledge and expertise about their industry.

 

While a fail fast culture nurtures new ideas, some practices, such as data governance, need to follow more stringent frameworks when it comes to managing data assets and its initial usability for development.

 

Often, startups don’t have such a rich knowledge of data governance, whereas larger organisations will have dedicated people or even teams in place responsible for ensuring high-quality data is fed through to those actioning it. Failing to work in this way could be to the detriment of startups, particularly at a time when the ideas of trust and ethics are growing in importance and poor data governance could be the downfall of an organisation.

 

Ultimately, established businesses must embrace the culture of creativity, flexibility and agility associated with startups in order to attract a wider talent pool. However, it’s important to recognise that the experience and stability of more established enterprises is also attractive and shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

By combining the most appealing aspects of both types of organisation, businesses will not only make themselves more attractive to new talent but will also stand a better chance of retaining their existing talent.

Read more from Suarav Gupta here on the topic of learning from start-ups on TechHQ.


Saurav Gupta

Sales Engineer, InterSystems. Saurav Gupta joined InterSystems in July 2006 as Sales Engineer and has been working across both technology and healthcare solutions business of InterSystems. He has over 18 years of experience across solutions architecture, enterprise application integration, analytics and software development.
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