I’m sure you remember, how as children we were told to never judge a book by its cover. It’s a wonderful thought to embrace and practise even as we grow up. Entrepreneurship, at the surface level, may seem adorned with fame, success and money. But beneath that wonderful cover, is a tantalisingly long journey of difficult decisions, emotional upheavals and unfathomable risks. At the end of the book, and in retrospect alone, can these risks be fathomed.
In my discussions with peers and budding leaders, I have touched upon the symbiotic relationship between personal development and professional growth. Especially in the healthcare industry, empathy and intuition are crucial pillars for delivering impeccable services to customers, which thereafter drive business growth. But, what happens after the first couple years of business, when the initial curve of growth has passed? The journey doesn’t end here. Quite contrarily, the journey to scalability in business only begins from this point.
As iconic entrepreneur and investor, Peter Thiel mentions in his book Zero To One, “When you’re trying to do something big; it’s not enough to grow, you need to scale”.
In this article, I am addressing the second curve of entrepreneurship which catalyses critical transformation: that of a business to a valued brand, on the professional front; and that of a leader to an entrepreneur. When Metropolis Healthcare was transitioning to become an international pathology brand, my personal development also heightened. The crucial five ‘S’ which had an impacted on both personal and professional aspects of my life in journeying toward ‘scalability’ are discussed below.
- Scope of Integrity
Although it may be an overused term, building ‘integrity’ seldom has any shortcuts. Be it with your partners/stakeholders, customers or employees; it takes months, years and decades of hard-work to establish integrity. For building a brand value, the seeds of integrity must be sown at inception and further nurtured during the second phase, so that gradually it can seep down to the last employee. Eventually, the culture of integrity will bear the fruits in raising your brainchild from just another ‘company’ to a trusted and valued brand.
To establish your brand in the market, the standardised bar must be set higher than market demands and consumer expectations. Consumer experience, across outlets and geographies needs to be maintained equally. To this effect, when Metropolis was scaling to different continents, I ensured standardised services across its segments because zero compromises on brand value was necessary to set it apart from the competitors. Remember, that most of your publicity is going to be by word of mouth, hence the experience of your service needs to be the talking point.
The goal of scalability lies in striving for sustainable development. Mergers and acquisitions may lay foundation for future growth, but increased time and effort are other tools necessary for outgrowing initial investments. The most efficient pathway toward sustainability would be slow and sure growth. Since my focus has been on the larger sustainable development picture as opposed to short-term profits, Metropolis has made the conscious choice of not venturing into the e-commerce landscape.
4. Strategic Balance
A leader cannot afford to simply do things on an impulse. The strategic spine of a leader comprises the essentiality of balance. Be it balance between scepticism and optimism, between short-term milestones and long-term vision, between profit centric perspective and sustainability, between rationality and emotionality, there needs to be an equilibrium between measures of polarity. An exemplification of this theory would be the need for rationality in decision making and emotionality or empathy in understanding consumer needs. Balance stricken at every instant gives the strategic impetus to business scalability.
5. Single Goal
Imagine if each rower on the boat propelled it in a different/opposite direction. No really, go ahead and imagine it. Would the boat move anywhere? Alignment is the compass that’ll fuel your brand towards the ultimate vision. Each team member needs to be aligned to the vision, strategy and goal. Communication of your vision to your team periodically can ensure that your plans are in sync with execution and vice versa. Magic happens when everyone works towards a single goal.
Beyond the horizon of setting up an independently functioning business, lies another sweeter horizon of scalability; an opportunity that lets you positively impact a larger community of consumers. The journey will never be what you expected, it will never leave you where you had started; because, accompanying the outward journey of every business, is the inward journey of self-discovery. May both your inner and outer transformations be guided by the five ‘S’.