Simplifying Strategy: The Role of Non-Executives and External Advisers in Scaling Up

think big act small

When scaling businesses, the allure of diversification can sometimes lead to a cluttered corporate strategy, over-extended resources, and diluted brand identity. This can result in a chaotic business environment that hampers growth rather than fostering it. The old adage “Keep it simple” holds particularly true for scale-ups striving to establish themselves in competitive markets. Additionally, adopting the principle of “Think Big, Act Small” can refine this approach, focusing efforts on manageable, impactful actions that align with larger strategic visions. In this context, non-executives and external advisers play a pivotal role in refining a company’s focus and enhancing its core competencies.

The Pitfalls of Over-Diversification

Many scale-ups fall into the trap of over-diversification. Attracted by the potential to capture new markets, they expand their product lines or services too rapidly. This often leads to increased costs, complexity in operations, and a shift away from what made the business successful initially. Over-diversification can distract from the company’s core products and competencies, potentially confusing customers and eroding brand strength.

Streamlining Strategy with External Guidance

Non-executives and external advisers bring a wealth of experience and an objective perspective that can be crucial in focusing a company’s strategy. These experts can help identify the core products or services that have the highest potential for success and scalability, while ensuring that the company’s ambitions remain grounded in achievable, incremental goals.

  1. Objective Analysis: External advisers can conduct an unbiased review of the business’s product lines and market strategies. This outside perspective helps in identifying what truly works and what doesn’t, enabling the company to focus its energies more effectively.
  2. Industry Insights: Non-executives often come with deep industry knowledge and networks that can prove invaluable in fine-tuning the business strategy. Their expertise can guide scale-ups to focus on niche markets or specialized products where the company can realistically become a market leader.
  3. Operational Efficiency: By advocating for simplicity and a “Think Big, Act Small” approach, these advisers can help streamline operations. This might involve cutting down unnecessary products, simplifying marketing messages, or optimizing supply chains, all of which can reduce costs and improve operational efficiency.
  4. Strategic Planning: With their experience in scaling businesses, non-executives can assist in planning long-term strategies that emphasize sustainable growth while focusing on short-term, manageable steps that accumulate to achieve big visions.
  5. Risk Management: Diversification involves inherent risks, particularly for scale-ups with limited resources. External advisers can provide risk assessment frameworks that help the business understand potential downsides and prepare mitigation strategies.

For scale-ups, the temptation to do everything can be overwhelming, but the key to successful scaling often lies in simplicity and a focused approach.

“Think Big, Act Small” encapsulates the idea of maintaining grand aspirations while taking practical, small-scale actions that lead to significant impacts. Non-executives and external advisers are instrumental in stripping away the complexities of an overburdened business model, directing focus back to the core products or services that offer the most competitive advantage and growth potential.

By harnessing their expertise, scale-ups can avoid the pitfalls of diversification and pave a clearer, more manageable path to success. This focused approach not only optimizes resources but also fortifies the company’s market position, ensuring that it does one thing exceptionally well, rather than many things inadequately.


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