People think that individuals, especially leaders, from large corporations struggle in early-stage startups because they are lazy or because they are used to the “rest and vest” culture of large corporations. However, it’s the difference in reward systems that is the real reason why success at big companies doesn’t transfer to startups.

In late-stage companies, validating C-suite bias under the guise of truth-seeking is often the key to career success. In contrast, for early-stage startups, especially in the post-ZIRP era, truth-seeking means uncovering customer insights that truly move the needle. This requires a deep understanding of what it is that customers really want. Instead of a solution by committee that fits the agenda of the various stakeholders, you are concerned with the truth. Customers first, not stakeholders.

Big companies leaders talk about MVP, the minimum viable product that solves a customer need, but what they really deliver is a compromise that upsets the fewest stakeholders. And that mentality is hard to get rid of.