What Great Startups Do Differently

What Great Startups Do Differently
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If there is one thing we can learn from analyzing great startups, this is it: there's no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a successful entrepreneur. At the same time, there are some tactics and strategies to keep in mind if you want to do things differently.

A terrific team, a brilliant CEO, an exploding market, and a friendly competitor are likely to come to mind when considering the attributes that every successful business must have. There's a lot to choose from. But there's one quality that you absolutely, positively must have; a quality that isn't easy to achieve. One that you, as a young entrepreneur, probably already know of but hardly have been able to achieve.


Because innovation has become such a buzzword, its true meaning gets lost in the shuffle. While some people interpret the term "innovation" to mean anything from employing the latest technology to making changes because it is the right thing to do to stay updated, the definition of "innovation" is confined to changes to an organization's core business that lead to growth.

Woman entrepreneur using augmented reality artifact inside of an office.
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Take a look at any successful enterprise, and you will probably find innovation at its core; they didn't quit until they solved the puzzle. That determination and compromise to continual innovation have led companies like Uber, Dropbox, and Airbnb to succeed where others couldn't. Yes, we're talking to you, Blockbuster.

Related Article: Succeed as an Entrepreneur by NOT Following These Companies Example.

The tricky thing here is that every organization faces different challenges, some focusing on improving old technologies. In contrast, others strive to make discoveries, and that's why there's no proper path to innovation. In fact, there are several ways to innovate as there exist different types of problems to solve. However, we've noticed universal traits all these successful startups have in common and that you as a young entrepreneur should keep in mind when the time comes.

Great startups seek out problems

The most fantastic thing about this is that problems range from small to large, unique to common. If the product or service can make someone's life easier, fill a hole in an industry, or increase productivity, it could be successful. You can approach it with innovation which doesn't necessarily mean a great idea but a significant problem.

The key idea here is: Don't just wait for the problem to appear; go search for it.

Great companies like Microsoft and IBM are constantly researching how to improve people's lives and seek issues that they may have not even noticed. So, don't just focus on smartness and creativity as qualities to search for in people you will work with, whether co-founders or employees, but keep in mind that curiosity and investigation are top-notch qualities if you aim for innovative ideas and products.

Table with documents, cooffe and hands working together.
Photo by Fauxels on Pexels.

Great startups find their unique ways

Names like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg are directly associated with innovative ideas and an out-of-the-box way of thinking. Because of this, many entrepreneurs try to emulate their formulas into their businesses without realizing they might own completely different services, and the company they are trying to boost might require a different approach and solution. Innovation strategies need to suit your capabilities, methods, and team. Just because something worked for someone else doesn't necessarily mean that it will work for your company. You need to discover your way to work it out!

Great startups identify the right strategy

There are no correct answers or processes when working on innovation, but we suggest you start by questioning yourself: How well is the problem defined? Before moving on, dig until you have the issue so studied and precise that you can start defining the best way to approach a solution.

You can put excellent tools for research into practice, such as interviews, matrices, polls, statistics, and many others. Validate the problem you have detected, and do not forget to seek different points of view.

Great startups invest in an amazing culture

Analyzing the business models of outstanding startups, we have learned that company culture is essential to attract and retain top talent, and talent is the soil where your company will thrive. Focus on building solid values and a collaborative environment, even more now that remote work has become a reality. You will notice how the people you surround yourself with can add value to the company and your own life.

Employees want to know that they are part of a company that cares and values them as professionals and human beings. It's not only about putting in long hours; keeping the mind and spirit happy will inspire them to produce excellent and innovative results.

As Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, once stated, "people are not different from flowers. If you water flowers, they flourish. If you praise people, they flourish". And your company, being no other thing than a group of people, will see the results.

People are not different from flowers. If you water flowers, they flourish. If you praise people, they flourish.

You can have the best product, idea, or service but have an unhappy team, and your startup will go nowhere.

Happy team celebrating success.
Photo by Fauxels on Pexels.

Great startups understand the risks, and they take them

As the young entrepreneur you are, keep in mind that innovation is a messy business. We often see success cases as they become popular, while failures often go unnoticed or are swept under the carpet.

Consider, for instance, Van Gogh's work. His artwork began to receive recognition many years after his death, and just a few realized his work lay dormant for over a decade until he became the recognized artist he is today.

Many organizations fail to keep the innovation process going on: it's such heartbreaking work. Truly breakdown innovations take time, aren't a single event, iterate a lot, and bring teams of many different people to polish that idea to mold it into a shiny diamond. Keep the good work going on, learn from your mistakes, and do not give up easily because you can see how long the road you've run is, but you will never know how close you are to the finish line.

Related Article: Beginners Guide to High School Entrepreneurship.

Now that you understand some of the qualities you should approach to help your startup bloom, let's discuss the types of business innovations.

The creation of a new product or service might be part of business innovation, but it isn't required. Here are a couple of examples of corporate innovation to help you make an idea of the field you might like to work on:

Product innovation:

This means developing a brand-new product that complements a company's primary offering. For instance, think about how Apple started with computers and then moved to mobile devices, and now this product they once believed about represents 71.6 billion U.S. dollars just for the first quarter of Apple's 2022 year.

Process innovation:

This is all about designing a new way to be more efficient in the core business. A great example of this is the invention of a drive-thru. They changed how fast food was served; speed and efficiency were a pure novelty. By indulging the customer's desire not to leave their cars, restaurateurs could operate with fewer employees, falling prices while profits rose.

Business model innovation:

Introducing a new way of making or saving money, such as Netflix, a subscription-based business model, means that its main revenue stream is the monthly fees. They changed the way we rent movies, not only physically but economically. Now we can access millions of on-demand content by paying the same amount every month, not like we used to do years before, spending a specific amount for a particular title.

Innovation is not easy-peasy. But the right help can get you there faster, entities like Leangap help you learning the do's and don'ts in the process of creating a startup. Even though it can be hard to accomplish, when achieved, it can be the most rewarding thing and what marks a before and after in the course of your startup. Truth is, as hard as it is, it's not impossible at all... Ask Mr. Musk.

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