10 Corporate Strategies for Startups

Entrepreneurs share the best practice they've borrowed directly from a large company and implemented at their startup:

No. 1: Customer Service

From Aaron Schwartz of Modify Watches

From day one, we've focused our energies on making customers happy. Each of our team members is a Zappos customer, and we all prefer to shop there. We try to deliver that exact same "wow" experience to our fans. Our reality as a startup is that we have a small marketing budget -- so we invest a ton in delivering exceptional service, and hope our fans will tell their friends.

No. 2: Sales

From David Ehrenberg of Early Growth Financial Services

Our firm is a sales organization; everyone at EGFS needs to be directly involved in the sales process. I took inspiration from Cisco on creating this culture within our organization. I’m working to create that same culture here and impress upon our team that sales is not just the responsibility of our dedicated sales team.

No. 3: Company-Wide Emails

From Kim Kaupe of ZinePak

As a former Conde Nast employee, I enjoyed company-wide emails that kept me informed of what other departments and magazines were doing. Startups move even more quickly then corporations, no matter their employee size, which means it is impossible for everyone to know everything! ZinePak's company-wide weekly email gives a slice of what each department has accomplished and is striving for.

No. 4: Strategic Stability

From Lauren Perkins of Perks Consulting

Big brands succeed because they have strategic stability: thinking and planning for the long term. We build a strong foundation by applying "brand thinking" to our agile "startup acting," so that every plan includes immediate positive outcomes plus strategy for sustainable growth. You can do it, too. It can be as simple as capturing process after defining a best practice through iteration.

No. 5: Email Marketing

From Josh Weiss of Bluegala

We've adapted one-to-one email marketing, which Amazon is famous for. When customers receive marketing messages specifically tailored for them, the engagement rates have been tremendous.

No. 6: Efficient Systems

From Joe Apfelbaum of Ajax Union

One of the things that I don't like about big companies is red tape. It takes a long time to get anything done. Yet as we've grown, I've realized that those processes exist to create long-term efficiency. As we have grown, we began implementing systems and processes to monitor the way we do things. Having scripts, checklists and playbooks is something that we now do to be more efficient.

No. 7: Goal Setting

From David Sendroff of Forensiq

I recently brought on a Chief Marketing Officer who has a ton of experience in launching brands, including at place like Kayak and Vonage. He’s instilled the importance of being inclusive and consistent with all marketing, creative and PR partners. By keeping our partners up-to-date on our business (including challenges), we can build a sense of shared purpose and achieve better results.

No. 8: Structured Environment

From Ziver Birg of Zivelo

A trend I’ve seen recently is businesses moving away from internal hierarchy – even to the extreme of removing all reporting relationships, as with a holacracy. While we maintain an open door policy at ZIVELO – and acknowledge that great ideas can come from anyone – I believe that people thrive when they have structure and understand the workflow.

No. 9: Marketing Design

From Michael Patak of TopstepTrader

I'm constantly looking at other company's marketing emails and websites so that I can keep track of trends with design and voice. When Google and Apple changed to a toned down font style and basic email template, we borrowed those ideas for our own marketing efforts. After the trend of crazy designs and buttons faded away, a stripped-down marketing look took its place. And it really works.

No. 10: Employee Feedback

From David Hassell of 15Five

We learned about a fantastic employee feedback process from Patagonia Founder Francois Chouinard. He asked all of his employees to spend 15 minutes writing a report that took their manager no more than five minutes to read. Employees felt heard, and Chouinard gained unparalleled visibility into his company. We loved it so much that we built an entire business around it.

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.