What Can Legacy Companies Learn From Start-Ups?

There is no doubt that, in recent years, the rise of start-ups and disruptors in the business world has been one of the greatest prompts for legacy businesses to advance their approach to operational excellence and business transformation. Redefining the way that organisations are operated and how consumers interact with them, the thriving entrepreneurial start-up culture that we live in today can not be overlooked.
As the millennial generation come to make-up the majority of the work force, older and more established organisations must begin to take note of how they can adapt their existing ways of working to create an environment that can compete with the allure of their fast-paced, quick-growth competitors. In the lead up to OPEX Week Europe, we speak with Sissel Hansen, founder and CEO of publishing and media company, The Start Up Guide, to ask ‘what can legacy businesses learn from their start-up competitors?’

1. Can you tell me about yourself and your background, and how this lead to founding Startup Guide?

I started my first business as a teenager, and I knew almost immediately that I was meant to be an entrepreneur. When I moved to Berlin, though, I had trouble getting up and running. I knew the ecosystem was thriving, but I was still struggling to meet the right people and at times I felt lost. This is largely the reason I founded Startup Guide – to help people build their big ideas, no matter where they are in the world. I am driven by people who are passionate about they do or what they’re trying to create. It’s why I gravitated toward entrepreneurship in the first place, and why I’m committed to helping others on their own journey.

2. What exactly does Startup Guide do? What have been your major successes/achievements so far?

We tell stories of the most forward-thinking entrepreneurs in the world today, in hopes of inspiring a new generation of creators to build businesses that solve the world’s most pressing problems. Our guidebooks and online content are designed to empower people to chase that dream, no matter where they want to make it happen. So far, we’ve explored over 30 different startup ecosystems in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East.

3. What do you think it takes for a business to succeed?

You have to be passionate about what you’re creating, or else you’ll fall at the first hurdle. There will be challenging moments at every stage of running a business, which is why it’s important to always remember why you’re doing it in the first place. As a founder, if you’re able to effectively articulate that passion to your team, they’ll buy into and the business will be better off because of it. The most successful startups I see are those in which people truly believe in what they’re trying to achieve.

"In the past, businesses could solve problems that weren’t actually problems and be successful. But the narrative that business can’t value both purpose and profit has already been flipped on its head"

4. What do you believe larger, more established businesses are lacking?

Purpose. In the past, businesses could solve problems that weren’t actually problems and be successful. But the narrative that business can’t value both purpose and profit has already been flipped on its head. Even if a product or service makes our lives easier, that doesn’t mean it makes our lives healthier or more sustainable. Too many people are trying to solve problems by finding a quick fix, rather than seeking out an impactful, long-term solution.

5. How can they overcome this? What can they learn from the approach of a start-up?

In order to be cognisant of the impact, big businesses need to constantly reevaluate their purpose. They need to ask themselves whether what they’re doing is sustainable and what’s best for our planet. Additionally, they ought to hire people whose own beliefs align with what the company is trying to achieve. By 2025, Millennials – the majority of whom consider a company’s social and environmental values when looking for work – will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. Part of the reason that startups have been so successful in tackling global issues is because their employees are guided by a clear, impactful purpose.