Jan Bosch is a research center director, professor, consultant and angel investor in start-ups. You can contact him at jan@janbosch.com.

Opinion

Don’t let your habits define you

Leestijd: 3 minuten

This week, I had a meeting with the leadership team of a company that has asked me for help to accelerate their growth. We’ve been reconvening regularly and going through the process of defining who we are and what our purpose is as a business, identified the key avenues to accelerate growth, created a plan to execute on and operating mechanisms to follow up.

The weird thing is that we’ve been consistently running behind the plan in terms of execution and when I pointed this out to them, I got the usual excuses of internal dependencies, external factors outside the control of the team and so on. However, at the core, something else was going on. The team has been working together for more than a decade, during which the company went through some difficult times that resulted in their having become extremely careful and risk avoidant. Over the years, they’ve developed a set of habits that ensure wide safety margins. For instance, any new hiring only takes place after the revenue from customers for the new hire has been guaranteed for a long time to come.

The surprising thing is that these habits might have been useful at some point in the past, but at this stage where the company has raised a good chunk of funding, there’s no reason to be avoiding financial and business risk. Instead, with the whole COVID-19 situation, now is the time to invest and expand the team with great talent that’s now available because of many companies scaling back.

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