Most businesses are cautious when hiring a startup firm and rightfully so. This is particularly the case in a situation where you have no relationship with the owner or founder. You are probably asking questions like will they leave me hanging? Will they close their doors? Will they provide quality work? Do I really want to be one of their first clients? All questions you may be asking yourself as you consider your decision.
If you've been fortunate enough to work with the owner of the startup firm prior, you probably have a sense for the type of work and output you'll receive throughout the relationship. In this case, you'll have your expectations set based on prior work. You know if the startup firm can deliver on those expectations or not. But what if you have no prior working relationship? Regardless of how long a company has been it business, if you are working with a vendor for the first time it's a bit of a leap of faith and a scary proposition.
Where will this relationship take me?
Although Drive Research is a market research startup company, we believe the benefits of working with a startup apply to all, regardless of industry. The cautions and stigmas which may be associated with startup companies should be flipped on their heads. In the corporate world, under-performing employees, processes, and regulations get in the way of helping you as the customer. Large companies often think inwardly: what benefits us? How can we make this easier for us? There is little focus and effort placed on making your life easier as a customer. A customer-centric mentality is the only focus for a startup. It's blunt but without customers, there is no business. A startup will not survive long.
In fact, corporations get so large they spend time asking their staff "how can we act more like a startup firm?" They realize the benefits of flexibility, acting fast, and other areas where startups excel, and it's something they've lost over the years as they've grown. Why do they want to refocus? Because they've lost sight of what's important to their customers because of internal minutiae. So I challenge you to rethink your stigma, rethink your cautions, and truly consider jumping onboard with a startup who take the approach these larger companies yearn to replicate. There are tremendous benefits to hiring a startup firm for your next market research project.
Here are 5 benefits of working with a startup firm over a larger corporation:
Be a large slice of the watermelon, not a grape
Larger corporations often lose sight on the simple fact customer satisfaction drives the financial well-being of their company. These companies have so many clients it becomes "accepted" to under serve a few, particularly the ones who spend less money. Startup firms have no choice but to prioritize every single project which is awarded to them. The financial well-being of a startup is directly tied to these initial projects which come through their door. Startups cannot afford to disappoint you from both a revenue and referral (word-of-mouth) perspective. They will do everything in their power to ensure you are 100% satisfied with their services. They drive the ship and manage the accounts.
As Mark Cuban similarly stated on Shark Tank, ask yourself as a customer: "do I want to be treated as one of many grapes or as a large chunk of a watermelon vital to the success of a startup?"
It's a rarity in the today's business world, but startups will go the extra mile for you
As the famous sales consultant Zig Ziglar once stated, "there is no traffic on the extra mile." Startup companies are not afraid of work. The amount of time and energy which goes into launching a startup off the ground is proof of this. Startup companies appreciate and value time as much as anyone. Therefore we are willing to go the extra mile or two for our customers. Startups are characterized by words such as responsive, fast, and flexible.
As a customer ask yourself: "do I want to rely on my corporate contact who works a shift and has no stake in the game other than a weekly paycheck, or do I want a contact who fully embraces the customer-first mentality and exemplifies urgency?"
Gain access to top talent, passionate, and accountable resources
As a grape, you'll most likely touch base with executive level staff during your proposal process and possibly the pitch. It's unlikely you'll ever hear from them again once you sign your check. As companies grow, those executive level staff members get pulled away from customers and are forced to focus on management and internal policies. It's a shame but the larger the corporation, the less time they spend with customers. Startups present you with the opportunity to work directly with the owner and top talent at the firm. They are clearly passionate about the services they provide and are accountable at all levels of your relationship. The startup is in business for the right reasons. Having an "ownership mentality" with customers is an understatement.
As a customer ask yourself: "do I want to work with a company who will pass my project to someone with minimal experience and a few assistants or do I want to work directly with the most skilled and most passionate resources at an organization?"
Get higher quality, quicker, and less expensive services
With larger companies you can often be crippled by additional fees, higher margins, and variable cost structures like time and materials. Startups are more than willing to accept and negotiate lower costs in order to ramp up business in the onset. A market research firm like Drive creates custom surveys and projects for your business in an industry where the major players present you with the same cookie-cutter approach they adopt for all clients. Startups are more flexible on scope and cost without sacrificing quality. Evenings and weekends are very real office hours for a startup. We do not close our office at 5:00 PM and in many cases we work on weekends as part of the startup grind to get you results faster and on-schedule. As a customer ask yourself: "can I receive higher quality work, for a lesser cost, and a quicker turnaround by going with a startup?"
Consider the long-term sustainable vision a startup has
Build a consultant relationship for the long-term
Startups think long-term, building sustainable relationships along the way. As the startup looks to build its client base and build its business at the same time it needs to keep a long-term vision. We cannot sacrifice a quick buck which will result in an unhappy customer or poor quality work. The end goal of a startup is to build regular and repeat business with new customers and align together with strategy. The more the startup works with you as a customer, the more is learned, and the more each party benefits. Startups are willing to start small. They'll negotiate a small project as a trial-run because one-and-done projects are not in our vocabulary. We handle the day-to-day work on your projects much like a larger company, but we never lose sight of the big picture. As author David Allen poignantly stated “you've got to think about the big things while you're doing the small things, so all the small things go in the right direction.”
As a customer ask yourself: "who will give my account more attention and truly exemplify the long-term partner and consultant I am looking for?"
If you're there at the beginning of a startup's wonderful growth story you'll always be treated like Priority A and a watermelon. Drive Research is a market research firm in Syracuse, NY. Learn more about why I started Drive Research and the backstory behind the name. Learn more about our extensive market research services here. Questions about your next market research project? Contact the owner of Drive Research at 315-303-2040 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.