Changing the way you think from start-up to scale-up 

Your mindset is an integral part of long-term business growth and success. You know you have a good idea and the problem it will solve for potential users. The initial traction has been good, and you have been supported by your friends, family and immediate network to get those first few clients. However, now the next challenge has arisen - how do you truly realise your vision? The right mindset is what it takes.

Big thinking: the CMO mindset 

In January this year, one of the big thinkers of our age, Edgar H. Schein, died. MIT School of Industrial Management described him as "a social psychologist who bridged the academic and pragmatic sides of culture and organisation by practising his own tenets on humble leadership and inquiry." Douglas (Tim) Hall, PhD, a professor emeritus of management and organisations at Boston University's Questrom School of Business, described him by saying: 
"Most people are either one or the other: They're big thinkers and they have these grand theories, or they do research and incremental work to understand phenomena better ... Ed could do both. I can't think of anyone else who had the kind of range that he had.” Schein was unique for his ability to think on both a micro and macro level. It's a skill that not only few people have, but few businesses possess either.  
In an interesting parallel, McKinsey has recently published an article on the five levels of awareness, investigating how team members' perspicaciousness can influence their ability to act with intent to support business objectives. The fifth and highest point of awareness is when someone is 'adaptive'.  
They say: "Dual awareness enables us to access a state where we can act with intention and perform at our best—no matter what is happening around us. And in today's volatile operating environment, this capability is critical to leading others effectively.⁠"⁠  

How does awareness affect business growth? 

So, how does any of this relate to a growing business? How we think is fundamental to business growth and development stages. Some of that is about personality type. Much is down to experience. Some is about knowledge. Some is to do with innovation. However, at its most potent, it's an alchemy born of all four ingredients that drives business growth.  
The way the senior leadership team thinks is an exciting space for businesses that are scaling up. That mindset drives a company's ability to move beyond the start-up phase successfully and with intent. There are innumerable tales of companies, particularly in the tech sector, which grow incredibly quickly only to burn out because they cannot adapt their approach to the next level of thinking and operations. 
In that case, what is the next level of thinking that takes businesses from successful start-up to sustainable scale-up? 
The other levels of awareness in McKinsey's framework include: 
  • Unaware: Not aware of external state or external zone 
  • Delayed: aware after an event 
  • Perceptive: aware but not able to respond effectively in the moment 
  • Resilient: Aware and able to respond after a short pause or time out 
  • Adaptive: Aware and able to pivot effectively from 'protection' to 'learning' in the moment 
Successful start-ups at a point where they're ready to scale tend to find themselves in the 'perceptive' category. It's an exciting moment in business development where most need support to evolve their mindset to the next level. That's where one thing is essential - experience; and it's there that our Fractional CMO service can work with businesses and provide the tools to grow effectively both in terms of the bottom line, company value and in the context of team and leadership capabilities.

What is knowledge for business growth? 

Knowledge is fundamental, but only some people have the relevant experience at CMO or CEO level to understand viscerally and technically what it means to grow a business and how to do it beyond good luck. There are capabilities and tools that we can highlight, all of which feature in our playbook, but that's not where the magic happens. 
None of the components will achieve business growth and success unless you have the experience to underpin your perspective.  
To surmise through the wisdom of Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting: "You're an orphan, right? You think I know the first thing about how hard your life has been, how you feel, who you are because I read Oliver Twist?" 
The type of experience that comes from having had your neck on the line and a genuine personal investment in outcomes is the only way unbiased input can be offered, and that's what our Fractional CMO services provide. 

A playbook for scale-up success  

Most organisations don't become resilient, and at the moment, we are seeing that Achilles Heel exposed in businesses of all sizes because of inflation and rising interest rates. It's resilience in terms of cash flow, sales pipeline and marketing strategy - all of which relate to the thinking of the senior leadership team.  
We help you become resilient and adaptive - many clients come to us after a promising start has begun to face issues. Now is an excellent time to build resilience through strategic growth and marketing investment that delivers a return. Let us help. 
Find out more about gigCMO's Fractional CMO service  

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