Before you think we have lost our minds at Falak, let me caveat the above by saying that “T-Rex” here refers to the companies that are usually referred to as Dinosaurs in today’s world. They are big and have been around a long time. These companies have been criticized, and rightfully so, for being very slow, too centralized, resistant to change, not employee friendly, etc.
Naturally, the world tends to look at the newer age companies (the start-ups, ‘unicorns’ or ‘robots’ as they are affectionately referred to) to learn from. The world of business has analysed the workings of start-ups in tremendous amount of detail in the hope that that their success could be replicated. However, as these firms struggle with raising capital today, we need to question what they are not doing right.
In our view, these newer firms, that are agile, and nimble, and fast growing, need to learn a few things from these old and slow dinosaurs.
Invest in knowing your customers and building a relationship with them: At Falak, we tend to do a lot work with new age firms and have noticed that more often than not, these entrepreneurs tend to base their understanding of customers on their own experience with the market. We have also had entrepreneurs tell us that for my app/ website/ tech, there is no specific target, it targets everyone. This can obviously lead to grossly underestimating the time it will take for the market to adopt the product. Big firms tend to collect a lot of data on customer behaviour before shifting their strategy to suit it. That, to our minds, should also be the approach start-ups should follow – gather intel on enough customers and then adapt the offering.
Define clear goals and hold people accountable for them: This I have to admit, even at Falak, it took us some time to do. It sounds strange saying that small firms should learn people management from big firms. But though, small firms are good at motivating their talent, what they are not good at defining is, success for their people and then holding them accountable for it. They tend to define good performance based on what they have versus what needed to be done. This usually leads to confusion on whether someone is performing optimally from the managers perspective as well the perspective of the team members.
Plan for more mistakes: Start-ups and small companies tend to have a very positive atmosphere where risk taking is usually second nature to all team members. Though this is a positive trait, but many great ideas run out resources fairly quickly for precisely this reason. Managing risk well by building contingency plans and being shrewd with monetary risks (similar to the risk averse large firms) will pay off in the longer run for the smaller firms as well.
It is clear that the older firms need to learn nimbleness and agility from the new firms. However, similarly, new firms need to move away from being overtly intuitive and gullible and learn a few tricks from the old timers as well.