The term “skin in the game” was coined by Warren Buffet, coined to refer to high-ranking insiders investing in the companies they run. 

As business professionals we use this term to show and display authority in the space in which we work. As established businesses, we love to throw around our resume to display our skill sets.

But is that the best way to stay fresh, current and (most importantly) relevant to our customers?

Whether your business is targeted to B2B or B2C, there are many nuggets we can borrow from forward thinking, lean and eager start-ups. Most professionals think these qualities make them successful and relevant, but there’s more.

Consider these 5 insights gleaned from the start-up culture:

Cultivate the Right Environment

Company culture is something that start-ups get right. Oftentimes, employees have a vested interest in the company and product. Living, breathing, eating and sleeping product launches make for great grounds in building trusting relationships. Start-up employees truly know who the company is, because it is them, until funding is secured to grow.



Adopt that mentality by giving your employees the red-carpet treatment. Creating a lively, “fun” culture will grow company morale. Oftentimes this growth in morale leads to solutions to major problems, because the staff gets to know each other in different ways. They become engaged in different facets of the business conducted every day. The more management gives employees the freedom to explore their own capabilities, the more creative and innovative a business can be.

Embrace Technology

Investing in the most up-to-date technology and using new tools - not only is the best way to operate, it’s also the reason most start-up company models are conceived. After all, necessity is the mother of invention, and many new businesses get their starts by solving an everyday problem. That means finding new ways to use technology to solve employees’ pet peeves. Is there a system that integrates the function of three? At your next meeting, consider how advances in technology could make your business run smoother.

Get to Know your Customers

Consumers connect with accessible brands. Start-ups have the advantage of creating a personal relationship early on in their growth journey. Crowd-funding platforms tug at the heart-strings to secure funding, allowing young start-ups to forge customer bonds early on.  Big brands can take advantage of their relationships by doing more consumer research and relying less on industry reports.

Get personal; ask your customers why they love you. Ask what can be done better, ask anything - just ask.  Dig deep: your customers will appreciate the fact that you value their opinion. And don’t forget to incentivize your research. An attractive give-away has a sneaky way of getting big attention.

5 insights established businesses should learn from start-ups

Have a P.O.V.

Remember who you are. Take a stance. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Your business or product is different from your competitors for a reason. Double down on your uniqueness. This is a major separator and could be the reason your customers chose you over your competitors.


Never be afraid to try; if things aren't going well pick yourself up and try again. Shaking things up can spur growth. Testing and incremental development has been proven by start-ups to grow businesses exponentially. The important idea is that you cut losses when testing reveals it’s not working and quickly try something else or – as the start-ups like to say – pivot. In the start-up world, failing is good – it means we are testing and learning what works. Fail fast; fail often. 

Has your business only used traditional forms of advertising? Ever thought about inbound marketing or creating a PPC campaign? Try it! Nothing is ever lost when experimenting - knowledge and resources are only gained. Analyzing your experimental marketing efforts could bring product visibility to an entirely new audience.

Next Steps 

There are many lessons businesses can learn from each other - everything requires proper planning and strategic executions. Need a helpful start? Contact us and request a free 30-minute assessment. Let our experts help your marketing team!

Written by Katina Charles


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