Management & Strategy
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Think like a start-up

Josh Linkner, author, Venture Capitalist and entrepreneur, shows how you can beat your competitors to the punch by having an entrepreneurial mindset

I’m often surprised that the most innovative breakthroughs come from start-ups with almost no money, experience, or resources. In contrast, organisational giants with more cash than small countries get beaten to the punch with startling regularity.

While big companies are busy protecting the golden goose with fear-based, micro improvements, start-ups are busy with the hard work of changing the world. How can broke start-ups break the entrenched leaders? Why do visionary, 20-something college dropouts scare the colour out of fancy-pants bureaucrats loaded with credentials, money, and ‘experience’?

Simple answer: They have the startup mindset. They look at the world in ways that allow them to unleash their true creative potential. And if you start thinking like a start-up, you too can conquer giants, slay dragons, and change the world.

Here are five core philosophies that entrepreneurs use to break the mould:

1. Curiosity: People at start-ups constantly challenge conventional wisdom, asking ‘why?’, ‘what if?’, and ‘why not?’ They have a deep craving to understand the world, gain new insight, and discover a better way.

2. Focus on possibilities: Entrepreneurs spend most of their time imagining what could be, rather than focusing on what is. They let their mind’s eye travel to a future state and explore fresh possibilities.

3. Disregard for status quo: Since they have nothing to lose, start-ups yearn to put a thumb in the eye of the complacent incumbents.

4. Conquer fear: We all face fear, but entrepreneurs figure out how to forge ahead in spite of their demons. They live by author Nido Qubein’s famous quote, “The price of discipline is always less than the pain of regret.”

5. Speed: The big no longer beats the small. Today, the fast beats the slow. Start-ups sprint toward their goals while big companies are busy writing policy manuals and planning next summer’s company picnic.

No matter who you are, seizing the entrepreneurial mindset will help you win in today’s ultra-competitive environment, as you see your creativity and imagination light up like a roman candle.

This is YOUR moment. Think like a start-up.

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK