Last year I resigned from a corporate job and started working for two startups. From what I’ve gathered, there are a couple of things each spectrum can learn from each others. What corporate world lacks, startups can fill the gap. While most people believe “the startup ways” can help change the world, there are some things that startups can learn from the corporate world. Startups think they are the best bunch of people around, but in reality, we need the best of both worlds.
Flexibility can overkill, manage it
Even though startups strive and pride on their flexible working hours, flexible places and flexible time, this can be a bit of an overkill. Based on my own small experience alone, the corporate world can be much more flexible than startups. Early-age startups can be quite a drill, people need to stick together to make a solid team. My advice is that startups need, from early stages, to define standard operating procedures, such as how to submit bugs, working hours, allowable amount of “flex office” times and more, including seating arrangements in the office.
Garage office isn’t the way to go for the long run, design your office
We all know the romance of starting things up in a garage. Bands do it, tech companies did it. A “garage office” today can take many forms, not only in the real car garage, but practically in a deserted room or unused space, or a small room in a posh co-working space. However, it can get very crowded and messy. Even though you have a small space, make it “workable” and “livable” in terms of ergonomics. Provide enough lighting, privacy, space, and if you can, design it. A good working environment is a good prerequisite for employee retention. Also, do not ever consider a home office for all your employees. Rent a space in an actual commercial space. It doesn’t have to be in the CBD, but it needs to be in a strategic location. It boosts up mood of your employees and get them to start believing that they actually do some serious stuff.
Employee benefits = (at least a consideration of) employee retention, be ethical
In today’s fast and changing world, nobody in the intellectual or technology industry wants to be paid only salary. They have health considerations, life quality goals, career advancement prospects, and some of them are experienced and are running a household with kids. They want to be good citizens, too. So, my advice for startups is: pay their taxes, pay their health insurance (including their immediate family member), pay their pension savings. Those three are the most basic. If you can provide more like education or transportation incentives, it will be more attractive. Do not say that you’re still in early stages, so every employee has to understand to keep up. No, employees don’t always share the same vision as you, they work for money and compensations. They also need sustenance. Be an ethical employer!
If you produce creative work, you need to respect other’s, too
Nobody wants their work to be copied without consent, moreover if it’s for the financial benefits of others. Stop using pirated software and believe in the power of the industry. Invest in original software, respect copyright, do not just copy, and produce work yourself as much as possible. And yes, don’t start with “everything is not original in this world anymore” stance. I didn’t say anything about originality, but at least when you cook a dish, you try to reinvent something from the cycle.
Communication is as important as code
Establish a proper communication protocol from the start. I don’t mean this as setting up Basecamp or paying for domain names. They are the technical parts, I’m talking about the contextual part. Establish a good brand for your company, not only the visual identities, but the way you communicate. The way you use words in your emails, the way you negotiate, the way your customer service talks to your customers (and potential customers). Also, establish a sensible standard for hiring and interviewing candidates.
Startup is not a play thing
It is not entirely an experimental lifecycle. Only the products are experimental. Do not experiment with your resources. Mean serious business from the start. Don’t just quit your job and try because you believe it’s energizing and preachable.