Six lessons every company should learn from start-ups

May 19, 2017
We work with a growing number of start-ups and we’ve been thinking about what businesses at any age can learn from their younger cousins.


1. Consider different employment types. Zero-hours contracts can come with a bad reputation, but in some cases they can really help fill a gap in your team. This is particularly true with professionals looking for flexible employment, such as parents with young children. Timewise is one example of a marketplace matching businesses seeking part-time talent, or try Facebook or Gumtree for local resources.

2. Grow with direction and purpose. Don’t fall into the trap of hiring just when things are busy and your team seems too small to cope. Make sure each new-hire fits with your longer-term strategy, your team shape and the skills you already have. Also consider the paths for promotion for the people you already employ, what future do they have in your company?

3. Demand flexibility but give people some boundaries. People need to be flexible in their roles, but clarity on their responsibility is still important. As a minimum, make sure each employee has five key responsibilities; a long-term goal, a short-term goal and clarity on what they deliver themselves and how they deliver through others.

4. Be innovative with your support functions. When you’re small you don’t need in-house HR, IT or accountants and there are numerous outsourced solutions to save money. But you’ll also be surprised by the favours you may be able to pull from your networks, like PR, marketing or events management. Local business networking groups like BNI, Athena and Business Biscotti are a great place to start.

5. Have an ideas culture, but also know when to make decisions. One of our clients gets this just right. They have an open-dialogue in workshops that involve the whole team but, at other times, they’re clear that some decisions are made just by the senior leadership. Your team will thank you when they’re not asked for an opinion on everything!

6. Don’t neglect development. It’s tempting in start-ups to run as fast as you can for as long as you can. But, to be sustainable you have to stop and give energy to training and team-work. And this isn’t just for junior staff – CEO’s need development too. Consider using a coach or mentor if you’re a CEO, and find someone who you trust to challenge and support you when you’re feeling frazzled.

Source: Bedrock HR works with businesses at all stages, typically with between 5 and 50 employees, to provide a cost-effect outsourced HR solution. Talk to us if you’ve got any questions, we’d love to hear from you.

Bedrock Human Resources

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