In a market like Hong Kong, where there is a talent demand-supply gap, companies are striving to stand out in an attempt attract the best minds. Companies are no longer competing only against direct competitors or within their industry but also start-ups which are increasingly being preferred as a place of work. Talent is looking for aspects that go beyond just competitive salaries and employee benefits which big corporates can offer. This article examines the characteristics of start-ups that make them attractive and suggests ways for established companies to incorporate these traits to recruit the best talent.


Career Growth

One attractive aspect of working in a start-up is the potential for career advancement. Big corporates generally tend to have designated teams and people assigned under function - which might provide relatively fewer opportunities to gain a variety of experiences. On the other hand, start-ups have smaller and leaner teams, as a result of which, employees tend to perform necessary tasks, regardless of their job title or specialisation. From performing a human resource function one day to assisting business development the next, start-ups teach employees the ins and outs of a company, increasing their value as a professional.

How to create growth opportunities like start-ups:

  • Provide more discretion and autonomy in job duties
  • Create opportunities for different departments to collaborate and learn about each other's work



One common thing that is common between start-ups and entrepreneurs and which drives their commercial outcomes is - Innovation. They embody the principles of risk taking and respond to challenges and opportunities with ease because of their agility. They see failure as a learning experience to improve a product or business and are constantly adapting their business models to deliver better customer value.

How to drive innovation like start-ups:

  • Encourage experimentation and innovation as part of KPIs
  • Build a culture of continuous learning
  • Organize small teams with autonomy to speed up innovation


Distinct Corporate Culture

Since start-ups are often run by a small team working closely together, their ‘culture’ is typically a reflection of the founding team’s passions and personalities. In fact, every individual working in a start-up contributes to the overall culture thus breaking down the barriers and hurdles of growth and promotes a culture that is creative, laid back and passion driven.

Four factors that make up a typical start-up culture

  • Passion defines the purpose of a business and acts as a great motivator for the team
  • Personality makes a start-up unique and cannot be found anywhere else
  • Agility enables knowledge and information to flow at a pace that greatly improves the business
  • Authenticity allows freedom and respect of everyone’s own identity


In recent years, employees have become increasingly aware of their career purpose, what they value in a company and also the visible differences between established companies and start-ups. It is recommended that companies should be quick to incorporate the best aspects of start-up culture in order to attract the best talent.



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