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Summary:

This morning I ran across a nice interview in Inc. magazine with Google’s Matthew Glotzbach, who runs Google Enterprise, the search giant’s small business solutions unit. Matthew told Inc.’s Jason Del Rey that he believes small companies “have not only the imperative, but also the advantage […]

This morning I ran across a nice interview in Inc. magazine with Google’s Matthew Glotzbach, who runs Google Enterprise, the search giant’s small business solutions unit. Matthew told Inc.’s Jason Del Rey that he believes small companies “have not only the imperative, but also the advantage … to drive innovation.”

Matthew also shared some great tips for how startups can leverage this responsibility into their own rapid growth. I’ve highlighted two of them for you:

Don’t Bet on One Big Bang:

“The trick for a small business is not to take the big-bang approach. Don’t go and study the problem for 10 years and then build the killer product. That’s to say, don’t dump it all in, put everything behind it, have it launch only to find out that you missed the market or it wasn’t what the market wanted. … It’s a combination of rapid iteration, of getting things out there and testing it, and listening to the feedback. This is the way that small businesses can quickly evolve and fail, learn from failures, but those failures don’t have to be catastrophic game-ending type failures. They can be evolutionary, iterant and make-your-product-and-services-better type of experiences.”

Require Employee “Side Projects”:

[At Google engineers are mandated to spend 20 percent of their time working on "unassigned projects that interest them"] the idea of 20-percent time is almost implicit in small business. Because people are constantly working on a little bit of everything. Because that’s the nature of small business. This is my job from title perspective, but this is the list I do to grow the company. This is one of the innate things that happens in the small business setting that drives those businesses to move faster.

Read the whole of Jason’s interview with Matthew. I also found more of Matthew’s business tips in this post on Jeffrey Treem’s blog. (Jeffrey is an analyst in Edelman Communications’ “Change and Employee Engagement” practice. It is based on a presentation Matthew gave publicly.

  1. I find this dudes comments some what repugnant. Sounds to me like a corporate dude, speaking rubbish, without any idea what soever, about the daily survival struggles, that a small business has to overcome….

    Maybe he needs to redefine, exactly what he means by small business.enterprise….I can’t afford 20% time., at this stage in my growth curve.

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  2. I really agree with the principle that technology startups should:
    1) release early
    2) release often

    The key advantage a startup has compared to more mature/larger companies is the agility to make changes on the fly to the product/service offerings. Larger companies can listen to users as well, with their dedicated customer service departments/budgets. However the change will not come as quickly or easily for them.

    And precisely because a startup is small, with a lack of almost anything else, the competitive advantages granted by innovation becomes critical to its survival. I understand the 20% time thing as the practice of innovation. As mentioned in the full interview article, not every business situation should implement a literal 20% time rule for its employees. Rather, the practice and more importantly the culture of innovation should be encouraged and built up in the company.

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