Racing to be first to innovate and gain market share, speed is undeniably the most powerful weapon at a start-up’s disposal. In such highly competitive markets, as they strive to influence consumers and gain loyalty, pace is the ultimate defence for beating direct start-up, and megalithic established, competition.
Take Fire, for instance, a new FinTech player in the banking arena. The company is taking advantage of PSD2 legislation and beating banks in terms of service and delivery.
PSD2 allows ‘merchants’ to retrieve your account data from bank accounts – with your permission. That means when you buy something, they can make the payment for you without having to redirect through another service like PayPal of Visa.
“We are trying to create a wonderful user experience for banking services,” founder Colm Lyon said to Silicon Republic. And indeed, they are: “Customers love the simplicity of tapping their contactless card against their NFC-enabled device to load funds into their Fire account,” he continued.
The EU banking community has until 2018 to implement PSD2. Fire is already ahead of the game and making waves. How will traditional banking services, in all their inevitable bureaucracy, keep up?
The Need for Speed
A fast approach requires a nimble team. Start-up founders will be well-versed in the Agile approach, no doubt building their Minimum Viable Product straight out the starting blocks.
Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism, talks of ‘Minimum Viable Progress’: “What is the smallest amount of progress that will be useful and valuable to the essential task we are trying to get done?” he asks. This is a mentality as much as it is a practice. Being reducibly clear about the most essential action makes for faster progress.
“Move fast and break things” is Dave Girouard’s advice, CEO of personal finance startup Upstart. He talks of ‘speed as a habit’, how it is required not just in product development but throughout the entire business to be a serious competitive advantage. It’s about mindset as much as action. Businesses that wish to gallop rather than trot but focus on culture and talent.
How to move faster.
These four strategies for embedding a culture of speed circle around these themes of mindset, culture and action.
- Make fast decisions
Getting into the habit of making fast decisions is a notion Girouard subscribes to. Enter a meeting declaring ‘we’re not going to leave this room until a decision is made’ and you’ll satisfy your speed needs practically and culturally. Given that our intuition has the ability to keep us accurately on course, listening to gut instinct and taking time to hear it can also be a core ability in moving quickly.
- Execute decisions quickly
When will it be done? Can this be done sooner? Interrogate the ability to execute. Follow Silicon Valley’s adage, ‘done is better than perfect’. But be mindful of the need for the action in the first place, taking McKeown’s Essentualist advice on board. Rapidly executing processes or building products that are not necessary, wastes time you can’t afford.
- Harness DevOps
Nurturing an agile relationship between Development and Operations improves connections and communication. In turn, progress is focused, meaningful and fast.
- Buy innovation
Owning the resource and providing the investment it takes to innovate is a luxury few start-ups can afford. Outsourced resource delivers rocket fuel here. Start-ups can build MVPs without committing to potentially irrelevant staff. When time comes to pivot or persevere, the outsourced team can be realigned quickly without politics or pain.
Businesses also benefit from the intellect and R&D evolutions dedicated resourcing teams possess, with none of the overheads or long-term binds in-house teams demand.