May 21, 2021

5 Ways Your Agriculture Company Can Adopt a Startup Mindset

As a legacy industry, agriculture is steeped in history and served by many well established, multinational companies who have served farmers for decades. While that history has its benefits, it can also sometimes contribute to problems that make it harder to do good work. Layers of departmental red tape, siloed teams, status quo thinking, and a lack of flexibility can make it easy for new companies to pry away market share, especially when it comes to innovation. 

Adopting the mindset of startups has much to offer all companies, regardless of size or pedigree. How can your organization start thinking like a startup? Below, we’ll present five ways you can introduce an entrepreneurial mindset into your business practices. 

Prioritize Agility

Successful startups master the art of failure, followed by a quick pivot. If customers don’t respond to a product, service, or idea, they adjust immediately – regardless of what their five-year strategic plan says. In the context of a large company, you likely can’t abandon the plan altogether. But you can break down the plan into small chunks, work in sprints, and then evaluate as you go. You’ll be able to optimize based on new learnings, rather than carrying forward practices or tactics that didn’t work.

Focus on the Future

Startups and their founders are constantly looking forward, identifying future trends and market changes. Honing the ability to spot these potential obstacles or opportunities before they arise is a major part of being agile. Having the guts to act on them is somewhat harder, especially without data to back it up. But taking a chance, testing hypotheses and looking for deeper insights and data starts with first knowing what you’re adjusting for. 

Shorten the Communications Cycle

Most startups start with small teams. While you want to avoid creating siloes, you want to empower every department to be able to move forward with ideas without weeks (or months) of reviews, revisions, and approvals. Every team should have clear direction and an understanding of how far their ability to make decisions extends. They should also know what is their responsibility vs what is the responsibility of other teams or departments, to avoid duplication of effort. 

Align Your Team Around a Goal

We talk a lot about alignment around here, especially when it comes to aligning marketing efforts with business goals. We believe that’s important across all departments. Everyone in your organization should have a clear understanding of the goal, so they can ensure their efforts are pushing towards the same ultimate vision. 

Innovate Outside Your Comfort Zone

Did you know that most billion-dollar founders don’t have previous experience in the industry they build their startup in? Successful founders look for trends or market changes and then they flex their network connections to learn as much as they can, as quickly as they can. 

We know it’s unlikely that large, established ag organizations are going to pivot into an entirely new vertical. However, this same way of thinking applies well to expanding into agtech, or adopting e-commerce – areas where many agriculture companies may find themselves uneasy. Identify the opportunity, and then connect with everyone you know who can help make you an expert. 

What other startup philosophies have you adopted in your organization? Let’s discuss them on Twitter