The danger of acting like a big company

In many ways it’s fairly obvious why some startups can innovate & execute faster and better than a big company.

The startup is focused and has one mission. There are no warlords, mixed interests, VPs battling for control, massive performance reviews to plough through, strategy meetings followed by more strategy meetings, “move the needle” conversations, etc. 

As a startup goes from purely product focused to scaling the organization I’ve seen a potential trap that is awful to watch. 

The trap is acting like a huge company when you are still a small company (ie less than 250 people). 

The challenge is staffing up accordingly with management and building out a team of specialists – but still maintain all of the qualities of a founder driven startup that is kicking ass, taking risk and making it happen. 

When I see a small company acting like a massive company with 360 performance reviews, or VPs reporting to other VPs, or a massive board deck, or a huge board or a roadmap from hell, or nasty politics, then something tragic happened. And it’s a moral killer. 

The good news is the startup can still fix itself – it’s painful but it’s possible. It’s not nearly as easy for the large company to correct itself.