Three high-level trends all startups should watch out for

From taking values seriously to understanding what flexible actually means, these are the key trends to stay on top of.

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With all of the challenges that come with running a business – an overwhelming project management workload, a never-ending to-do list, and an ever-evolving set of problems to solve – it can be difficult to stay up to date with the latest trends in the startup sector.

And it can be even trickier to get a sense of high-level trends across industries, once you’re immersed within a specific area of interest.

But one person who might be well-placed to help is Orianna Rosa Royle, a business and leadership journalist whose career has seen her report on successful businesses and leaders across a range of industries. We spoke to Orianna about the high-level trends she’s seeing in her work, and why startup founders need to care about them.

The importance of values: transparency, authenticity and honesty

Orianna is open about the challenges she saw during the pandemic-era layoffs. Chiefly, business leaders came under criticism for the way they handled redundancies or other difficult circumstances within their businesses.

From Orianna’s perspective, it wasn’t so much about the hard choices that needed to be made within businesses (most employees will understand that difficult times call for difficult decisions), but the way in which they were made or communicated.

‘Having an open, mature flow of discussion between different team members is so important when it comes to these bigger work-life decisions,’ Orianna says. ‘Leaders should keep returning to the ‘why’ behind any decision being made. The more specific you can be, the more effective the resolution’.

And this, eventually, comes down to a question of company values and identity: how do you want to behave in this situation? And how does that translate into practical action?

An emphasis on action alongside accountability

Leading on from the values-oriented perspective, Orianna is thinking about the topic of accountability: what it means to take accountability as a leader or founder, and how it can be done in an authentic way. In a piece covering some specific examples within the layoff trend, Orianna reflects on the importance of language, communication and action.

Speaking to us about her reporting, Orianna reflects: ‘it’s not just about taking accountability. We all know who is at fault. It’s no longer just enough to claim responsibility for something happening. What employees (and wider stakeholders) want to know is: what will you do about it? What does it actually mean to take responsibility, and what happens next?’

These issues aren’t just relevant for high-level CEOs or corporate leaders. For startup founders and entrepreneurs, this is an important reminder that team members, co-founders, stakeholders and the general community involved in the business will want to see practical action accompany any statements, intentions or expressions of thought.

What changes will be made as a result of your position on an issue? How will you choose to adapt things moving forwards?

Flexibility is a priority – both for employers and for employees

We’ve heard so much about hybrid and flexible working over the past years. First came the idea that office life might be over for good. Then came the mass return to the office environment (accompanied by some enforced office returns within some companies).

Finally – somewhere between the two extremes – a flexible approach has emerged that seems to chime better with employee appetites.

This flexible approach is the trend that Orianna sees as the most successful industry change of recent years. ‘Instead of forcing measures on people, it’s really about explaining why that decision is beneficial for the business,’ Orianna says. ‘It’s especially important in a smaller business or startup, where the mission is still in development.

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Profile headshot of Eloise Skinner, entrepreneur and author
Eloise Skinner

Eloise Skinner is an author, therapist and founder. Her work focuses on meaning, purpose and values, and her newest book is 'But Are You Alive? - How To Design A Life Worth Living'.
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