Staying Agile Vs Scaling up: The Fragile Dichotomy
A business is agile when it acts, adapts and amends re-actively without losing its vision. Adopting an agile strategy is important for the momentum and growth of a business to counter its competitors in the growing market. It could be launching new products quicker than your opponents or implementing a new marketing strategy that gives an edge to your business.
On the other hand, scaling up can be different for every business. It could be more employees, more equipment, more facilities, new geographies, more followers etc.
Today everybody talks about startups as businesses that pick up millions from investors and strive to conquer the world very quickly to become ” unicorns“.
But a startup’s dilemma is to handle ‘agility at scale’ or ‘scaling agile’!
Startups inherit the tradition of agility – something most companies desire for, in this constantly disruptive market. But replicating the same agile nature is not easy as the business begins to grow. Why?
Because it’s easy to take decisions in a startup as they need to go only through the founder’s table. But as a company grows and hierarchy sets in, the ground rules of agility starts colliding.
Staying agile is imperative for any entrepreneurial setup, so that they can evolve step by step with the shifting requirements of the clients and the market. But very few start ups are able to maintain that agility once the scale of business grows.
The focus of a growing business often shifts on fixing the structure and procedures of scaling rather than the agile audacity. Ironically, the lack of corporate structure within start-ups is what makes them stand apart from the fleet of big organizations.
When the team size grows more than ten, it’s the responsibility of a leader to guide the growing team and shape it to a point, where it can uphold its agility while working on future goals and plans.
A startup’s need to stay agile is not only for development or growth perspectives but is the only way forward.
Let’s take a look on the three basic principles to boost a startup to scale effectively:
1) Aim small, miss small and adapt quickly: It is all about minimizing the risk while maximizing the growth. To get that toehold for a upcoming product with a small price, it is definitely risky, costly and time-consuming especially when your revenue stream hasn’t gain momentum.
One blooper and you are out of the league before even getting started. Incorporating agile development strategy is the only way to minimize the risk and nimble your business models. Limit your scope. Build these pockets of agility and focus on milestone successes.
“Fail fast, recover fast” should be the motto.
Focus like a hawk on few things for 30-50 days than on numerous things for 4 quarters.
2) Collaborate: Whether in B2B or B2C environment, partnerships are very effective when it comes to building up the business. Whether you are a product or a service based startup, partnerships with other businesses, does offer specializations wherein all parties benefit from each other. To make these relationships stay active, one needs to manage, develop and nurture the collaborations over time.
Leveraging on partnerships is a great way to reduce risk and overhead cost of new employees till a project makes profit.
3) Be your customer first and sales person later: Know the loopholes of your products, the restrictions of your services before selling it to your customers. Try your products so you know everything about the client experience – how to push, when to turn, and from where to continue and grow a business with highest pace. For every complaint from your customer, you should “have been there, done that.”
Lastly, A startup is not about executing a series of known. Almost all of them face a series of unknowns -unknown customer segments, unknown product features, unknown market challenges, etc. So accept the challenge and deal with it quickly and in a way that will make a difference.
“Leaders need to be tough! They don’t have light shoulders, there are heavy burdens to bear”