You’ve probably heard the adage, “you have to learn to walk before you run.” And it couldn’t ring more true for just about every startup entrepreneur out there. As a startup consultant, I bring it up because I see many companies quickly moving on an idea before fully understanding how they will test and iterate as they scale their product in the marketplace. And according to researchers at UC Berkeley and Stanford, I’m not the only one. Reports show premature scaling as one of the most common causes of failure.
And if you think about it, well, it makes sense. After all, if you’re primarily focusing on speed, it’s just a matter of time before everything you’ve worked hard on comes crashing down. So, take my advice and learn to walk before you hit the ground running or, as I like to say, “learn to slow down strategically.”
3 Ways Strategically Slowing Down Can Help Your Company Succeed in the Future
- Get crystal clear on your why – It can be easy to be pulled in multiple directions and lose your sense of clarity if you don’t know why the thing you’re working toward is meaningful. That’s why taking time to slow down is vital to ensure you’re clear on where your startup is guiding you and your team. To get clear on your’ why,’ make sure you and your team define why this north star is important to consumers. And then, take it a step further and identify what success looks like, how long you estimate it will take to get there, and the roles and responsibilities each person involved will contribute.
- Gain more time to test and plan upfront – while it may sound counterintuitive to slow down for testing and planning when all you want to do is get to market as quickly as possible; it’s the very thing that will help you sustain long-term growth. By testing and planning early on, you build resiliency, establish a solid process, and learn what you need to know to scale successfully. And if something still goes wrong along the way, the good news is that you’ve most likely already made an action plan for handling it.
- Ensure the right people are at the table – there’s nothing worse than growing too fast only to find out you don’t have the right people at the table to do the job. Not having the right talent at the right time means you’re lacking the right skill sets to move the business forward, and you’re probably not thinking about market fit correctly. And from my experience, that usually translates to a challenging and painful pivot down the road. So, use your time wisely to ensure your existing team is ready to handle the growing pains of the business or find time to hire the right talent necessary to sustain growth down the road.
Of course, just because I’m saying focus on controlled, sustainable growth doesn’t mean there isn’t a time and place for speed. The key is planning for scalability upfront to build and sustain a valuable business that makes a difference for your customers, team, and yourself.