The Nine Advantages Of Being A Corporate Startup

What is better? Running your own startup or driving innovation within a large company? Steve Jobs was very clear that it is better to be a pirate than to join the navy. There are freedoms that come with running your own company. Startup founders do not have to answer to line managers they disagree with or worry about getting a promotion. They can just get on with pursuing their vision. What they do have to worry about is the chance that their idea might fail!

We have become a culture that celebrates entrepreneurial pursuits. This is a good thing because successful entrepreneurs can contribute to wealth creation and advancement of society. However, we should not celebrate entrepreneurship so much that we start to think that it is the only true path to innovation success. It is not true that startups have all the advantages when it comes to entrepreneurship. There are also significant benefits of pursuing entrepreneurship within the context of a large company.

If we really stop and think about it, most of the advantages that startups have are at the beginning of a venture. Startup teams can start working on any idea they want without needing leadership approvals or facing the same level of resistance that corporate startups face. It is later in the process, when they want to launch and scale their ideas, that startups start to face significant challenges. It can be hard to find customers and develop scalable products, especially if manufacturing capabilities are needed.

The opposite is true when working in a large company. Getting started can be difficult if you don’t have leadership support. Even if you get started, getting support through the early stages of a corporate startup is hard because you do not yet have revenue growth to show leaders. However, if a corporate startup survives this early stage, they will have access to really good resources when it comes to scaling their ideas. This is where the benefits of being a corporate startup start to show.

The Corporate Benefits

When working inside large corporations, innovation teams can leverage benefits that most early stage startups can only dream off. Below are nine examples of such benefits: :

  1. Company Brand: Most established companies have a recognizable brand that can be leveraged by a corporate startup to get customer attention. If the brand is very well regarded, customers will give the new product the benefit of the doubt and at least try it.

The Price You Pay

It is clear that corporate startups have some advantages over early stage startups. However, these advantages don’t come for free. There is a price to pay and that price is called politics. In order to access these advantages, corporate startup teams need to be able to build collaborative relationships with leadership and their colleagues in key functions. Without such collaboration, innovation teams are like ‘startups in chains’ because they do not have any of the freedoms of early stage startups, but they are also not benefiting from the resources of the company. This is why it’s imperative that, beyond working on their product or service, corporate startup teams need to build a bridge to the core business.
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This article was first published on Forbes where Tendayi Viki is a regular contributor. Learn more at www.tendayiviki.com.

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Tendayi Viki

Associate Partner at Strategyzer. Author of Pirates In The Navy. Thinkers50 Innovation Award Nominee 2017 - Radar Thinker 2018. Learn more: www.tendayiviki.com.