Success is Freedom, But it’s not Free

Posted: December 28, 2015 in Posts

The modern business world is now focused on creating entrepreneurial environments in corporations while turning away from the more traditional company/employee model. One explanation for this change comes from the startup world’s model for growth and the creation of a “startup culture.” This culture forms the foundation for success.

And that foundation is built upon an environment where employees feel that they are true stakeholders in their company. They must share in larger positive outcomes and be recognized for their versatility in pursuit of shared companywide goals. In other words, they can readily assist various teams by employing their core skill sets and lend expertise in other areas that they are not necessarily “specialists” in.

Along those lines, the “art of a startup” relates to the structure of roles and delegation of duties.  The combination of unorganized duties (meaning impromptu multi-tasking from each member to assist others) and organized duties enable companies to reach common goals and necessary milestones.  The “startup model” requires the time, energy, equity, selflessness and humbleness of each participant from CEO to intern! It’s not free.

It’s become increasingly more popular for executives to leave the Fortune 100 world to launch a startup and explore dynamic, new, and innovative business models. These business models, according to many executives, would have helped them build divisions, create teams and increase growth for their former employers. However, they were unable to develop and implement these more contemporary goals based upon the confines of the traditional “corporate” structure.

After shifting to a startup based approach, these former executives begin assembling new teams and start relying on their team members to break free of the “corporate” shell.

Coming out of that shell requires fast decisions and openness about the challenges they will face. Practically speaking, the “startup culture” leads to working non-traditional hours and sitting in the same room as everyone else at work. The traditional walls and closed door office setting of the past is shed for a more conclusive, open, and team oriented approach. In other words, the days of being afraid to knock on the boss’s door are gone in startup land.

The open office space layout creates a free environment and enables leadership to work with their team on a daily basis. Executives can spend each day with their employees, working just as hard and fast as they are…and as late.

That’s not to say that there are some benefits and lessons that startups can learn from corporate America. The new team members of a startup formed by a former Fortune 100 executive would be wise to adopt certain business aspects and concepts from a CEO’s prior experience. Certain elements of the Fortune 100 world can be seamlessly integrated to a startup creating a synergy and a hybrid business model. The startup success ratio, unlike the proven but potentially outdated corporate model, is still quite low; everyone is working against the odds which engenders an expensive risk.

It’s important to keep in mind that a former Fortune 100 executive who enters the startup space chose to eschew  a comfortable salary, a pension, stock options, excellent health coverage, paid vacation (real vacations, not working vacations) and the benefit of knowing that there was a safety net of hundreds if not thousands of people working to ensure consistent revenue and profit. These factors establish a certain degree of comfort, and conferred executives with the confidence that stems from knowing their income was safe, they would receive bonuses, and they could strive for promotions that were always just around the corner.

Unlike the corporate world, startup hires are often coming on board with student loan debt and expectations of lower salaries. If they believe in their leader and the business, many are willing to take on equity as opposed to a high salary. They expect to oftentimes work a 7 day work week and realize that 9 to 5 days are gone. Their skin is in the game, so to speak, and they are making a riskier choice to forgo a Fortune 100 company in search of larger goals and the potential for great success.

Most startup employees want to leave their mark and create an impact in their field. They consider the possibility of working closely with a founder to be a true benefit. Sitting in a cubicle and subsisting three levels of management away from the person they actually work for is unpleasant and diametrically opposed to the startup ethos.

As a result, everyone from the executive starting a new business to new hires shares a certain degree of risk as well as the potential for a great reward when launching a startup. All parties entering the startup arena make an expensive decision that requires great commitment, transparency and honesty. The allure of the startup, however, is the freedom to express your ideas, create without boundaries, and accomplish individual as well as team success…ah, freedom.

Yes, in the world of entrepreneurs, employees may have to work much harder than they would at a large corporation, putting in more time, working on multiple projects at once, and quickly pivoting to many new tasks that may be outside their experience or comfort zone.

It is this freedom that shapes the allure of a startup: the ability to be a part of a business’ ground floor, to create success from the bottom up and to be able to look back and remember when it was a few people; a few desks; and some seed capital that enabled you stand by your CEO’s side while he or she rings a stock exchange bell!

This freedom and this success comes with great risk for all parties involved and necessitates many sacrifices, sweat and hard work…it’s not FREE. Actually, it’s quite expensive! But with great work comes great rewards. Merging the positive attributes of corporate America with the benefits of a startup is a great way to ensure that a startup generates revenue, creates great products, and achieves success.


Published On: Blueliner Marketing Blog

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