from maintenance-focused to mission-focused

overcoming the #1 growth challenge for startups & businesses

entrepreneurs start their enterprises with a burning desire to change the status quo and a point-of-view.  Mission-obsessed promoters sell their story and win customers. They onboard employees and toil to turn dreams into reality. India is home to a lot of such entrepreneurs who have made a huge difference and have become idols with a large following.  The journey of the entrepreneur is not for the faint-hearted but for people who are possessed. Possessed to win, break barriers and daring to change when needed because they believe WINNING is the only option!

entrepreneurial journeys have multiple phases. As organisational demands evolve, these die-hard winners change their hats to meet this demand. While changing these hats, the organisation mostly shifts from being mission-focused to productivity-driven. Staying fixed on the “mission mode” is the key challenge for startups as they scale up from serving a few customers to 1000’s or even millions.

before we get to this scaling up the issue, a dive into these various phases in the business journey.

phase I: idea to action.

a bright idea borne out of customer need-gap analysis morphs into a product.  With the idea, out you go and have conversations with customers. You then engage with them, win your first customers, you observe, learn and re-tool, until you finally convert the prototype into a winning proposition.

phase II: the helping hands: getting the missionaries.

your passion resonates with a few who are willing to get on board to fill in the gaps that you as a promoter feel you have.  These evangelists go get things done with passion and the company is well on its course.

phase III: expertise & cultural change.

a winning product and rapid growth bring with it a need for professional employees. You get “been there, done that” guys from differing cultures to shape an organisation for the future. Soon a unique journey, thus far, starts looking ‘like other companies’.

phase IV:  operational efficiency is supreme.

the experts assert their claim for space, independence, and importance. The organisation is tugged in multiple directions. Suddenly, ‘the cheetah’ starts morphing into an ‘elephant’.  Decisions take time, resistance takes root, and information becomes templatized.

the missionaries and the promoter lose valuable time to the resolution of internal issues. And the zeal for growth has given way to fixing things.

this is when the company is shifting from ‘mission focus’ to ‘maintenance focus.’ substantial energy is spent on minuting meetings, resolving conflicts, and follow-ups. All to ensure that operations are on track. Relatable? Don’t fret, this is the BIGGEST scaling challenge which every promoter faces!

can you avoid this trap and be on a ‘chasing growth’ mode all the time?

why you need an execution partner

one sure way to avoiding this trap is to bring in an EXECUTION PARTNER. By nature, the arrangement is only ‘result-focused’ and the partners work on solutions and not throwing up problems. When they do discuss problems, they are probably blindspots that need to be addressed before you move on. More importantly, outsourcing not only reduces some costs but should keep the companies focused on the growth alone.

what’s more valuable than your time, energy, and resources applied to growth strategies?

whom should you choose?

now that we know ‘when to outsource’ the next question is “whom should you outsource to”. Before outsourcing an operational process, articulate what the organisation wants from the partnership.  The following should be the purpose:

  1. bring an edge to execution which wouldn’t be possible by doing it in-house.
  2. add more value to the process than what the organisation could have done it themselves.
  3. not letting execution to play catch up with growth.
  4. last but not the least, enable the organisation to maintain focus on growth by taking away from it the operational issues.

how is it done?

outsourcing to an Execution Partner as a strategy is critical, so one needs to get it right from the concept stage to roll-out. The key here is to look for the right execution partners who are most equipped to assist in managing challenges as you scale up.  Things to do for getting it right are:

  1. arm’s length engagement a definite NO. An execution partner is your business’s extended arm, who gives you the ammunition to succeed.
  2. you need solution providers and not people who only execute what you say.
  3. share your vision, let them build on “how to execute it right”.
  4. understand the execution business so that you can compensate them appropriately.
  5. make time for their performance reviews, here don’t merely focus on the KRAs but what they say from the trenches. Therein lies the next growth opportunity.
  6. lastly, evangelise execution outsourcing within the organisation not for saving costs but for keeping the company on ‘always on-growth’ mode.

keep checking on your business mode. The moment you feel your mind is getting preoccupied with operations, p a u s e. Go find the Execution Partner to handle it. It’s time to get right back on the mission mode!


from maintenance-focused to mission-focused
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from maintenance-focused to mission-focused
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