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How to Remain a Holistic Startup

How to Remain a Holistic Startup – this is the topic that today’s author, Niranjan Gidwani discusses.


How to Remain a Holistic Startup

Every time there is any talk or discussion about a startup, there is a lot of high energy and enthusiasm which is visible and can be palpably felt. Startups have this something in them that manages to create a sense of high energy, an atmosphere of high engagement and urgency.

The world of startups, as we have come to understand these days, is beginning to gain super momentum and has started to become a mass global movement by itself. So much so that, it is almost in a FOMO (Fear of missing out) phase.

There are some characteristics which are uniquely corelated to startups. Most, if not all startups, seem to start with the idea of looking at issues or problems or pain points that exist, how to resolve those while staying very close to the customer. And doing all of this disruptively while maintaining an atmosphere of creativity and autonomy in the employee force.

During the course of attending many startup sessions, pitch sessions, guiding and mentoring a few startups to move in the right direction, we have sensed as well as seen that there is a certain spirit, something intangible where engagement and energy are both very high, and there is a lot of discussion around remaining agile as well as innovative.

A lot of global data seems to be indicative of the fact that as any startup or any other organization or entity matures, it becomes more and more difficult to keep the same animal spirit alive. Why should this be the case. There are many organizations and leaders who seem to confuse this spirit with the culture. The two are completely separate, and yet need to exist in a very large measure at all stages of any entity’s existence.

So often entrepreneurs, mentors and coaches emphasize the need to implement structure and systems as a business grows, something which is mandatorily required. Yet, somewhere, the importance of preserving the spirit is subconsciously missed out. We can and must necessarily focus on both. With effort and determination, owners and leaders can nurture and protect what’s right and needs to be true in their organizations.

Aspects of Startup needed to be  Preserved During  Growth

Continuously understanding or identifying a potential need, filling a gap or a niche which can benefit segments of the population, staying very closely connected to the end customer, keeping a very sharp eye on the last mile of any implementable process and creating a superior employee experience creates an entity where people bring not only their heads and their hands, but also their hearts to work. When thought deeply, these are not cultural norms created to shape behavior. They make work and relationships more than just transactional, thereby continuing to keep the spirit of the startup alive even in the mature stages of an entity.

Startups also do have a very high failure rate. They too need to add formal systems and processes and hire professional managers. Such changes can be enormously productive if done thoughtfully. But there is a danger that added bureaucracy and processes may cause customers to feel disconnected, and an organization’s entrepreneurial flair may disappear.

Often, it takes a crisis for people to notice that a company’s spirit or soul is slowly disappearing or gone. Yet, it is very possible to find a healthy middle ground in which high-growth and reputed companies add structure and discipline while still retaining all the critical elements that provide meaning to its existence. When it comes to the sheer purpose of the existence of the business, understanding and building upon the customer connection and a superior employee experience, it is a surefire way to keep ensuring that the original spirit of the startup continues to remain ignited at all stages of an entity.

A Practical Definition of Startup

And how about stretching the idea of a startup from its text-book definition to a more meaningful level where we lead our personal existence?

Post the pandemic, large segments of the global population have slipped way below their original levels. While for some, huge opportunity areas have been created. If more of us, at an individual level, were to decide to take it upon ourselves to Startup the life of a family around us, or someone who has fallen critically ill, or someone who desperately needs a fresh start to get back on track…

Would that too constitute a more holistic meaning of a successful startup? Would that not also create an environment of high energy and high engagement akin to a business startup?

Something to ponder over…


Niranjan Gidwani is a consultant director – TEXUB, member of UAE Superbrands council, charter member TIE Dubai and HBR Advisory Council.


About Yashaswini K

Controversy is the second name of Yashaswini. She goes where something is amiss and picks up the threads to make a clear story out of it. She has also written 2 books in the Radha Srinivasan Mystery Series.

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