Why Should Startups Incorporate A Corporate Strategy?

When it comes to long-term goals, building a solid corporate strategy is so important. This is essentially a guide that would outline your business direction in the long run. But how different is this from a business strategy?

Corporate vs Business Strategy, What’s The Difference?

Looking at what each strategy actually focuses on, corporate strategy looks at the goals of a company as a whole, and business strategy on the other hand would look at specific aspects.

Context wise, corporate strategy looks at making decisions that affect the whole company, like choosing which markets to enter, or how the company can incorporate some diversification, and then managing resources around the company.

But business strategy is different that way, because you’re instead making a more detailed and instant decision or plan on how business is carried out. So, if corporate strategy looks at the what and why, business strat would look at the how and where.

Why Is Corporate Strategy So Necessary?

Think of it like this: when you have a roadmap, you’ll know better where to go. So, in the context of corporate strategy, your company knows how resources are being used to best benefit both the company and its consumers. Money being a big resource for all businesses needs to be correctly budgeted and allocated so that each department is able to operate.

A strong corporate strategy that a company adheres to would also be good for businesses to analyse where they are, where they need to be, and what opportunities could come their way with all this. This way, you’re also handling risk management because you get to assess where threats could potentially lie.

All of this in turn puts the company in a great position for innovation and to pivot in time where needed. Together with a solid business strategy, chances of failure could be minimised.

And For Startups? How Important Is Corporate Strategy?

In the context of startups, we have asked some experts why they think having a corporate strategy as a startup is necessary. Here, we have spoken to:

  • Robbie O’Connor, GM EMEA, Notion
  • Gareth Scargill, Director, Nexus
  • Michael Baron, Commercial Director, BWS
  • Ed Johnson, Founder, PushFar
  • Julian Ritter, Partner, Stryber
  • Rui Andres, CEO, Molendotech


Robbie O’Connor, GM EMEA, Notion


“Corporate strategies serve as critical frameworks to ensure all employees are aligned on business goals. They’re tools to achieve buy-in and focus across the organisation, so how the strategy is communicated to stakeholders is as important as the strategy itself.

“But startups have the advantage of speed. A clear strategy is important, but it can’t take away from the agility that gives earlier stage businesses an advantage over larger competitors. In other words, startups should be constantly listening, learning, and iterating.

“I’ve certainly seen in my career that sometimes, traditional playbooks that underpin corporate strategies just don’t apply. For example at Notion, we expanded into new markets like France without the usual prerequisites of currency and language in place, as digital native companies embraced the product regardless. Moments like these have taught me that you always need a strategy to know where you’re going, but you also need to be nimble along the way.”

Gareth Scargill, Director, Nexus


“There are a few reasons why start-ups might incorporate a corporate strategy, the most obvious to me would be how it promotes a laser like approach when attracting funding.

“Investors are typically looking to maximise their potential returns while minimising their risks so will look to seek assurance that the start-up has a detailed plan for success.

“Taking a corporate approach to strategy development demonstrates that the founders have a clear vision, understand their market, and have a plan to achieve profitability. Also, such an approach helps immensely in the management of risk, as start-ups face many risks and uncertainties.

“This level of strategic thinking and planning can make start-ups highly attractive to investors, as it shows that the founders have thought through their business model thoroughly and have a roadmap for success.

“A corporate strategy goes beyond simply outlining a start-up’s business goals and objectives; it also includes risk management plans that are crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of the business.

“These risk management plans help start-ups anticipate potential challenges and uncertainties that may arise in the course of their operations, and devise strategies to mitigate and address them effectively.”


Michael Baron, Commercial Director, BWS


“Although not equal in size and stature, there are several reasons why start-ups should develop and adopt a corporate-esque strategy.

“The first reason is to have a clear decision-making framework, as a well-defined strategy acts as a roadmap, guiding founders through the inevitable tough choices that will crop up in growth phases, and helps to prioritise actions.

“With a clear vision for the future, founders can assess new opportunities and challenges against their set goals, ensuring they stay focused and don’t get sidetracked.

“Second is accountability; a corporate strategy helps to lay out the start-up’s initial objectives to all parties involved, including founders, shareholders, and employees.

“This level of transparency fosters accountability by holding everyone to the same goals, and ensuring progress is measurable.

“Next up is investor confidence, as investors are more likely to back a start-up with a well-thought-out strategy in place. A corporate-level strategic plan demonstrates that the founders are serious about the business, and have a realistic roadmap for how they are going to achieve that success. This level of detail will inspire trust, and increase the start-up’s attractiveness to potential funders.

“Finally there’s the competitive edge a corporate strategy provides. The start-up world is fiercely competitive, especially when it comes to securing funding, and having a clear strategy allows founders to identify their target market, define their unique value proposition, and differentiate themselves from competitors. This focus will help give a significant edge in a very crowded marketplace.”

Ed Johnson, Founder, PushFar


“Undeniably, startups are founded with a raw identity that is usually built on a core set of ideas and values. That said, as a business grows, naturally, its strategies must change to better align with increased staff numbers and long-term plans.

Whilst it may seem unnecessary for a small startup to have complex corporate strategies and processes in place, they become incredibly important and will make life significantly easier later down the line as the business aims to grow, evolve or diversify.

It is understandable why many startups don’t want to look too far ahead given that a huge percentage fail in their first year of trading. However, I would encourage all startups to incorporate a futureproof corporate strategy as soon as possible as it will be hugely important to know when processes need to change and if there’s any operational factors which need to change or be adapted.

Whether it’s because the staff headcount increases, the office size or location changes, a client base grows, or you want to attract a new audience, the mapping out of this process will be vital to achieving the ambitions that every successful startup should have or embody.”

Julian Ritter, Partner, Stryber


“While a corporate strategy is crucial for established businesses, startups must prioritise different factors for success.

“A startup’s strategy is really simple: It should be obsessed with and focused on finding a problem worth solving, then building an MVP to prove actual value delivery to customers, achieving product-market fit in a first market, and then expanding this model.

“Following this, it’s essential to achieve product-market fit within an initial market niche and then expand using a ‘rinse and repeat’ approach. Startups must establish a clear identity and value proposition before exploring additional revenue streams.

“Execution with agility and adaptability in response to market feedback and changing conditions is vital for startup success. A culture of innovation and operational flexibility also outweighs the benefits of a rigid corporate strategy, allowing startups to seize new opportunities and pivot as needed. A passionate and diverse team, a deep understanding of customer needs, and a relentless focus on delivering the right product are paramount, ranking above a traditional corporate strategy.”

Rui Andres, CEO, Molendotech


“Corporate strategy is a crucial guide for how start-ups can optimise their resources and choose their market paths. A big-picture mindset can be useful here. Start-ups can also benefit from keeping an eye on other possibilities. Take Molendotech. We’ve got several ways we could go to market since bacteria testing doesn’t depend much on the medium.

“We need to look at each option in terms of the funding, the barriers to entry, the competition, how we can create a competitive edge, and of course, the potential return on our investment. Since we started, Molendotech has mainly focused on the water market. When we ventured into the food market, we found some big challenges.

“For instance, food testing results often come back after the food is already on sale, and although recalls aren’t frequent, they’re hugely expensive—Deloitte says the average recall cost is about $30M. The food market also faces a lot of pressure and often lacks pricing power, which means companies need to be more efficient and responsive to issues.

“When we analysed this, we thought inflation might push for cost-cutting, including in food testing, which could lead to more bacteria outbreaks. A few months later, inflation did go up, cost-cutting happened, and we saw more outbreaks, like the recent E. Coli recall in sandwiches.

“Your tech is important, but so is the strategy behind its market success. It helps start-ups use their resources wisely, avoid risks, and go after the markets with the best potential returns. This kind of strategic thinking is why corporate strategy matters so much for start-ups.”