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Guest Opinion: The benefits to keeping a startup mentality


By Kelly Eagle | Account manager, Shift Interactive

Imagine walking into a startup. What do you see? What do you hear? The room almost buzzes with excitement. There are lots of conversations and visible collaboration everywhere you turn. Is your office like that? Or does your day revolve around meetings, routines and schedules? Sometimes too much structure and too many processes squelch creativity and thinking outside the box. Hierarchy leads people to believe they lack the voice or influence to make a difference in their organization. I believe businesses of all sizes can find benefits in behaving more like a startup, in the way they operate and build their teams.

How so? Let’s break it down.


Individuals who work at startups are unapologetically passionate about what they do. They believe in the product they work on and the people they work with. A willingness to work extra hours to make sure the deliverable is just right and feeling personally invested in the company’s wins or losses all create employees you’d love to have and work with.


Embracing change, or even expecting change, is another piece of the startup culture. As the market and consumer behavior change rapidly, companies need to be open to revising their thinking, their go-to-market strategy or even their marketing plan. Companies who follow the plan they set in place just because it’s THE plan won’t be successful. Larger companies can probably weather a few small fails or missteps, but small companies and startups can’t. This is why being agile and able to pivot are critical to success. Not only will your company continuously examine processes and strategies  to make each one better, the teams are more likely to avoid the pack mentality and ask valuable questions along the way.


This goes right along with questioning the status quo. If a company encourages open communication and welcomes questions and new ideas, your employees will want to share ideas, will be invested in the company, and will constantly be looking for ways to help improve a process or a project. There isn’t a negative to be seen here, and startups are the first companies to realize good ideas can come from anywhere or anyone. Keep an open mind and open ears.

As Shift Interactive has grown over the past  seven years, we’ve gone from a true startup with a few employees to 30 full-time staff that includes UI/UX design, software engineering and account service teams. One of the best parts of working here is the openness to communicate and share ideas across projects and teams. A good idea is a good idea, no matter where it comes from. If the idea, strategy or solution drives a client’s project, everyone wins.

So, how do you find these amazing people and create an environment that mirrors the mentality of a startup? I am a big believer in hiring someone on more than what is listed on their resume. It’s not enough to be talented. They should also share the values of the company, as well as be passionate, agile and unafraid to ask questions.

Kelly Eagle is an account manager at Shift Interactive in West Des Moines. She’s a graduate of Iowa State University and lives in Waukee with her husband and two daughters. She also has served on the Waukee Public Library Board of Trustees since 2012. Reach Kelly atkelly@interactiveshift.com.

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