The Three Common Execution Pitfalls
Updated: May 4
Scaling - up has a great potential to create long-term value — but only for businesses that carefully design and execute it.
Encouraged by the much-vaunted success of start-ups becoming unicorns, entrepreneurs around the world are embarking on their own scaling-up journeys. The sheer numbers look compelling, however, statistically an overwhelming majority of start-ups shut shop because they fail to scale up.
As they launch their first, second, and third waves of expansion, most are finding it harder than they expected to manage the high stress situations that arise during the execution of their strategy.
Though the reasons for poor results vary, we see three common execution pitfalls that derail expansion programs.
1. Under-investing time in planning the execution:
Leaders spend a lot of time and energy making a solid left-brained case for their strategy, as they should. But when it comes down to planning the execution of this strategy, they seem to rush the stage and assume things will take shape on their own once they begin the execution.
WRONG! Unless you spend your time thinking about the details and get your hands dirty planning each and every aspect of your strategy, clearly charting out the what and the how, you are setting yourself up for failure.
To execute a strategy successfully, you need a good plan!
Pro Tip: Don’t just plan for the strategy, plan for the execution when you are beginning your expansion plans, from knowing how to hire, to what exact metrics to track on a daily/weekly basis. The devil is in the details as they say!
2. Being too impatient with results:
Big splashes don’t happen. Overnight success doesn’t exist. That’s the hard truth.
While it’s great to set your ambition high and shoot for the moon, the problem happens when you turn your head away from the reality on-ground. Every business operation and function go through a cycle which takes time to become super-efficient and bear results.
Being patient doesn’t mean you don’t take cognizance of your daily/weekly/monthly goals. On the contrary, it means taking stock of things, fine tuning the processes as and when needed, and not letting near-term goals blur away the long-term ambition.
The argument for growth and expansion is quite simple: achieving something strategic, significant, and sustainable almost always takes time. Longevity is particularly important for innovation because time and sustained investment are needed to solve really tough problems!
Pro Tip: If you are gunning for a scale-up execution, wait for at least 3 to 4 months to see actual results of your plan in action.
3. Failing to calculate the costs of scaling:
One of the biggest challenges to scale is cash flow. If you want to commit yourself to growth, you need to plan for stable revenues first. You need cash.
Cash to pay staff each month. Cash to bring on new talent. Cash to invest in growth.
First-off, confirm your end-game and then start planning backwards from there. If you feel you lack the resources, there are many ways you can overcome that challenge. But don’t commit to growth without an action plan for ensuring cash-flows.
Pro Tip: Ensure you have enough cash to sustain your scale-up program for at least a 12-month period. Don’t get bogged down if you don’t have it all, there are a lot of options available for start-ups to raise this money.
Scaling up provides an exciting opportunity to grow from a small player in the market to playing in the big league. But unlocking all this potential isn’t just a technical exercise. Founders must give careful consideration to the full array of issues, from redesigning processes to aligning work teams, if they want the scale-up to deliver the full potential value.
The author of this article is Girish Batra, Founder and CEO of NetAmbit.
Founded in 2000 with a vision to make financial services available to
masses, NetAmbit diversified leveraging the years of expertise in large
scale - sales and call centre operations. NetAmbit now offers offline scale
up services including Managed sales, Hiring & Staffing Solutions - to
many big businesses pan India.