One of the key reasons founders start a new company comes from their desire to change the way things are being done. These innovators have identified new ways to disrupt the status quo of a current process/product. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “status” quo as “the current situation, the way things are now”. Unfortunately, although startup companies launch their operations with the notion of being innovative and becoming change agents, as time progresses, some of them become comfortable with the status quo and stop innovating. This is nothing short of the “kiss of death” for these startup companies. As they stop challenging the status quo, they lose their competitive edge and become just another ordinary company… at best.
Complacency and stagnation are the enemies of any company, whether they are a startup or an established corporation. However, promoting and executing change can be easier said than done for a leader, as there are many forces within a company that will oppose challenging the status quo. Just as cross country skiers get drawn continuously into the tracks set up by previous skiers, so do some organizations so as to avoid the uphill battle of implementing change.
In general, the older the company, the more difficult it is to introduce changes. It is generally easier to implement changes in a startup as older companies will have already defined their policies, procedures and identified their most important customers using existing products and/or services. Innovative companies realize that they must continually evolve and innovate even at the expense of cannibalizing existing product lines. They do so in favor of establishing new product lines based on new technologies.
Some companies, startup or existing, maintain their operations in the same way that they always functioned and wonder why they are not making progress. Albert Einstein, the Nobel Prize winner who developed the general theory of relativity provided the answer by coining the phrase: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Such companies will face major challenges in the market place from new and existing competitors whose customers are choosing their new solutions over the current incumbent.