When should you come out of the startup closet?

Mic Wright recently called for companies to stop hiding behind the startup ‘security blanket’ when the going gets tough. We were discussing it in the office and to a large degree we agree. When you’ve got 700 employees and a $1 billion dollar valuation, it’s high time you put yourself in the brackets of Microsoft, IBM and Apple and call yourself a business. But when you’re operating with a startup-esque culture, how do you start identifying yourself as a corporate?

Big players like Facebook, Twitter and AirBnB are all plastered on Techcrunch and Venture Beat behind the startup buzzword, despite being some of the biggest companies out of the 21st century.

Mark Hall back in 2011 called for some consensus in the industry dialog however I think one man’s definition won’t change that. With this latest debacle by Fab’s CEO, where he hides behind ‘said term’ as an explanation for failure it’s almost like saying, we’re too small to deserve scrutiny. Banks are going through the same ordeal of laying off employees left, right and center, yet they are not hiding in the closet. Turnarounds/pivots are normal and come in all sizes, and are expected in times where external & internal environments have an effect on your business operations.  A USP becomes as fluid as you add new features, products or services to any company, and just like a 10 man startup, banks do the same. The term should not be used to differ yourself from any other business in times of trouble.

Now I could bash around the ‘startup term’ and claim its all just a marketing buzzword now, but as a marketer (guilty as charged), will stick by it. In it’s defence, I think it should just be relegated to just that of the organisational culture. After all, it is the mentality and attitude to work that defines and ultimately should warrant the coveted startup identification. But first and foremost, you are a business from day one of trading. It’s time you come out of the closet and embrace it.


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