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Credit by Monica Georgieff

In the startup world of “move fast and break things,” deliberately adopting Agile process practices may rank low on leadership’s list of priorities. Even if Agile practices do make it into the organization at an early stage, it’s usually just in the RnD department, where new generation developers are bred Agile from the get-go.

“We don’t need process, we need results,” is the cry from startup CEOs trying to fill their monthly investor reports with ever more impressive numbers.

For many startup founders, there’s no clear link between Agile marketing and good results for their shareholders’ meeting.

Quick Takeaways:

  • In startups, Agile marketing improves productivity and innovation.

  • Agile helps implement consistent practices and processes in marketing.

  • Knowledge sharing, and therefore Agile implementation, is easier and faster in startups.

  • Agile processes help groom leaders out of early employees.

Why Startups are ideal for Agile marketing

Investing in a lengthy Agile marketing transformation when your company is already set in its ways will take a considerable cut from organizational resources. Doing so as a startup, however, can come cheap and help you move fast (without breaking so many things).

Small businesses and startups are already starting to pay attention to their organic advantage and being successful with Agile practices.

Although Agile Marketing is becoming increasingly popular among enterprises, it is spreading like wildfire among startups. Here’s why.

Generally, using the Agile process in a startup marketing team has the potential to:

  • Improve productivity

  • Enhance marketers’ ability to react to changing priorities

  • Increase innovation

  • Accelerate delivery times of your campaigns

Not only are startups in serious need of these benefits, but they are in a more advantageous position than large enterprises to receive them.

Startups + Agile marketing = Early wins

Startups can capitalize on their small size and fluid structure to create the right environment for Agile to flourish. This is what makes startups such great candidates for adopting Agile, even if they don’t know it yet.

Adopting Agile in your marketing team at this stage is one of the wisest investments you could make in your company’s future. Get acquainted with some of the reasons why.

1. Startup opportunities for consistent practices practices and processes

In a startup, the inherent fluidity and cross-functionality of team members make it easy for Agile practices to get a foothold in several teams at once.

As more team members have occasion to collaborate in a startup environment, they develop their own rulebook of Agile best practices. Their constant communication and tight deadlines often result in a communal process structure that the entire team is accountable for. In other words, they can’t help but have a consistent, agile process.

So, what may seem impossible in a fragmented enterprise with tens or hundreds of siloed teams and departments can be achieved over the course of several weeks within a small, unified startup.

2. Faster knowledge sharing creates shared understanding

Smaller team sizes in a startup make it easier to share knowledge among the members of the entire organization.

In a large enterprise, teams will need to be trained in batches over an extended period of time. However, in a startup, the entire organization can be trained at once.

3. Agile project management tools from the start

Thirty-two percent of marketers said that when adopting Agile, it was very valuable to implement an Agile project management tool.

Tools built around the Agile methodology help the team map their workflow, make their tasks visible to each other and promote explicit policies. Traditional tools will often discourage Agile principles, or will require workarounds to accommodate an Agile marketing workflow.

As most new startups are not contractually or mentally bound to an existing project management tool, it’s easier to implement new tools within the team.

4. Entrenching Agile marketing values in leadership early

As your startup grows, your first junior hires will transform into your company’s decision-makers. In time, these people will become integral to the business scale-up.

Executives who have matured within the context of an Agile organization are much more likely to become Agile leaders.

Even if an Agile transformation is on the table, it can be a big challenge to convince traditional leaders to undertake it.

Startups can bypass the barrier that a “lack of executive sponsorship” represents. Further, they can capitalize on the fact that their leaders prefer Agile, instead of fearing its disruption.

5. Impact goes further, faster

For small startups, Agile is a natural advantage, mainly due to their size and organic team dynamic.

In startups, these smaller specialized units also have a faster natural iteration cycle, which they must maintain to find product/market fit and grow at a healthy pace. So, in a way, they’re already one step closer to Agile.

In a startup, even just applying the three most popular Agile practices can have very palpable effects on organizational visibility, speed and employee morale.

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