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What can small businesses and start ups learn from Alphabet?

14th August 2015

What can start ups learn from the creation of Alphabet

What can start-ups learn from the creation of Alphabet?

You’ve probably seen on the news this week that one of the world’s biggest tech giants Google has brought itself under a parent company called ‘Alphabet’. This has sent waves throughout the tech world as it continues Google’s quest for internet domination and confirms that lots of their other projects will be brought into the spotlight a little more over the coming months. You can read the whole press release here where its founders (Alphabet’s new president and CEO) talked about the reasoning behind their decision.

Some of the things they say in the article are quite revealing about the way that Google works; it’s all about innovation. After all “As Sergey and I wrote in the original founders letter 11 years ago ‘Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.’” And they go on to outline some smaller side projects which are now coming to fruition.

It struck us that there are lots of positive things that Google can show other businesses. As a trail blazer, some of its internal processes could make a huge difference to smaller businesses, especially start ups. Processes help you expand and policies can restrict you or help you grow. Here are some of Google’s that we think will help.

We asked Helen, the latest addition to our digital marketing team what this means for small businesses and start-ups. Helen has experience of setting up and running her own business from scratch so is well placed to give advice to other SMEs who are just starting out.

‘I’ve always believed that if you feel strongly or passionately enough about an idea then it will happen – because you work hard at making it so! When making a business plan remember to be flexible, you never know what is going to change along the way and you shouldn’t be scared of that. This is a perfect example of that. Don’t be afraid of the change, be brave and embrace new opportunities. Even if it ends up being the wrong decision you will have learnt something from it. We can never really grow until a few mistakes have been made!’

Sometimes crazy is good

“We did a lot of things that seemed crazy at the time. Many of those crazy things now have over a billion users, like Google Maps”

Has anyone ever told you ‘this idea will never work’? It happens all the time; if you need some examples take a look at Dragon’s Den. Hopeful entrepreneurs get turned down on a daily basis and taking this advice on board is good, but you shouldn’t always let it stop you following your dream and your idea until it’s successful. Why not imagine yourself in a Dragon’s Den situation where you are being asked really tough questions ‘Is there demand for your product?’, ‘What’s the point?’. If you can answer those questions and back this up with some statistics or market research then you’ll probably be just fine. Google takes this a little further though- they talk about being restricted by practicalities and barriers. If you know something will work, make it happen (even if other people think you’re crazy at the time!). We sure wish we’d invented Google Maps!

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got

“We’ve long believed that over time companies tend to get comfortable doing the same thing, just making incremental changes. Revolutionary ideas drive the next big growth areas; you need to be a bit uncomfortable to stay relevant.”

We’ve all heard the saying but when you think about it and passed it off as a piece of flippant advice, but when you think about what it really means it has a lot of truth in the heart of it. Being afraid of change is natural- we all feel uncomfortable about it but embracing it and taking a risk can be the best thing you’ve ever done. Of course, you can always trial things for a couple of weeks and then ‘fail fast’ if it isn’t working! Don’t be afraid to shake things up.

Progress and dedication; the perfect match?

“Sergey and I have been super excited about his progress and dedication to the company. And it is clear to us and our board that it is time for Sundar to be CEO of Google.”

It’s obvious that motivated and committed staff are key to a successful business but someone who is progressive can be of huge advantage to a company. Google nurture this creative nature by dedicating 20% of employees time to innovating by working on special projects unrelated to their usual workloads. Other perks and unusual ways of operating things at Google include;

  • Free haircuts
  • Free onsite gym
  • Ping pong, billiards or foosball
  • Dry cleaning and laundry
  • Health care
  • Subsidised massage program
  • Piano in every foyer
  • Open work spaces
  • Free breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Subsidised day care

We’re not suggesting that you include the cost of an onsite gym in your first business plan but understanding how to treat employees well is something which can stop many small businesses in their tracks. Simple things such as making the procedure for taking leave fair and simple and build trust between them and management. Open work spaces and an ‘ideas’ session once a week can be a great way to come up with new ideas and keep the business building momentum with motivated staff.

Set yourself goals and things to be excited about

“We are excited about…”

Having a list of goals and things to be excited about can be motivating in the day-to-day running of a business. We all get bogged down occasionally in our workload and this is an easy tip to keep you motivated towards this month’s goals or your year-long achievement. Maybe even include tick boxes so that you can see your targets being achieved. Here at Cosmic we have a visible representation of our Facebook and Twitter following so that we can see it increase month-on-month and see what might affect the level of change.

If we can learn anything from Alphabet it’s that an open and forward thinking company is always going to be successful. If you can implement just one or two of these suggestions, you’re well on your way!

To find out how Cosmic can help you move forward in the digital world, get in touch with our friendly team based locally in Honiton on 01404 548 405 or drop us an email at [email protected] we look forward to hearing from you!