This is the last post in my series of things I learned in Projects in Entrepreneurial Companies, a class I took last semester at CU. In the class, students are paired with local startups to complete a small project and understand the entrepreneurial process more fully. Every week, the MBA students in the class meet to talk about everyone’s insights. One that I found insightful from a classmate was the reminder that structure is good for a startup.
This insight isn’t particularly hard for me to accept. I’ve been saying for years that there’s a reason that organization is a synonym for business. Structure allows businesses to leverage the power of automation, to deliver value consistently, and to grow efficiently.
At the same time, I see the other side of the structure coin. One of the beauties of a startup is they are nimble (they can change their course easily), and they are innovative (they are open to new ideas that could bring value to society). Sometimes structure cements the status quo and snuffs new ideas. In addition, structure is costly. For instance, the organizational and administration skills of an MBA are expensive and can’t be justified when those skills aren’t leveraged across an organization.
Like everything in life, structure needs to be balanced. Taking the position that no structure is needed will often leave entrepreneurs spinning their wheels wasting resources. On the other hand, too much structure can smother creativity and innovation. The balance will differ with every team, industry, and stage of the company; but if you want your company to grow to anything substantial, structure will eventually be your best friend. The trick is to prevent it from stifling innovation.