5 things every startup founder must learn from Google


Founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google (re-christened as Alphabet) is one of the most recognised companies in the world. Founded over 17 years ago, Google boasts of over 57,000 employees and a market cap of more than $367 billion. Needless to say, Google is an organisation that is the envy of every employer and the pride of its employees. It is no surprise then that for many people, Google remains a dream company to work for.

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What is truly amazing is that Google is always on the cusp of innovation. In today’s ultra-competitive landscape, it is amusing how Google is not bogged down by red tape or the compulsion to stick to status quo.

But, what is it that makes them tick?

Concentrate on the core business: To an outsider, it may look like Google is doing a million things - from creating driverless cars to disease-detecting pill. All of it is true, but these innovations are made possible by its strong search and advertising business. Deep down, Google is aware of this and does its business very well. Considering how much advertising has changed over the years, Google has done an excellent job in understanding its core area of business. If you look at any of Google’s initiatives, they relate to this core business. A startup leader should know their primary function and strive towards doing it exceptionally well.

Time for Innovation: Most of us know about Google’s 20 percent time policy of their employees. This policy gives the employees the freedom to spend up to 20 percent of their time on side projects which they are passionate about. Google has realised the employees might burn out if they are given the same tasks repeatedly over a period of time. Encouraging them to do other things during office hours will refresh their minds. Thus, Google happily provides the necessary resources to create and maintain a culture of innovation. The result is for everyone to see. Google churned out many innovative products like Gmail and AdSense which have turned out to be money spinners deeply impacting their bottom line.

Hire smart people: Recruiting good talent is one of the cornerstones of Google’s success. They have full-time recruiters who look for talent with an agile onboarding process. Their idea is to hire people who are smarter than themselves. They realise that by doing this, they are creating an environment of healthy competition and a chance for everyone involved to get better at their work. It is advisable that while recruiting, one keeps their ego at the door and focus on hiring someone commendable. Having the right attitude will also fetch you good talent and help your business thrive.

Dedicated teams for each project: The concept of having a dedicated set of employees to work for a particular project is not new. How does Google differ here? Google allots work and projects to the employees according to their passion towards the subject. The teams are then given the freedom to find out how they can fit into the project. Usually, in other companies, a new project is often executed by the members from other teams. This often results in poor execution and drags the project longer. The team’s daily tasks suffer when the members focus on more than one project at a time.

Peer review-based promotions: At Google, good guys don’t finish last. When it comes to an employee’s promotion, his peers have a bigger say than his boss. Peers review each other annually, creating an atmosphere of collaboration. Employees may not get good reviews by virtue of being obsequious or for their talent to mouth platitudes. In fact, there are chances that these kind of people get expunged from the organisation, if peer reviews are implemented for promotions. Moreover, it creates a friendly atmosphere across the company.

These are pointers startups can immediately implement in their work culture. If the leadership teams in organisations are ready to tweak their outlook towards running their business, it would do them good in the future. We would love to hear examples of times when your organisation has been Google-like.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)