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Executives and Leaders

The Harsh Realities of Growing a Business

Michele Smoly

By Michele Smoly

Oct 21, 2013

The Harsh Realities of Growing a Business

The Harsh Realities of Growing a BusinessEveryone wants to be successful, right? We all want to be the best, to be number one, whether we admit it or not. I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t like to fall short.

However, Harvard Business School says that over 90% of strategies fail. The study states, “The ability to execute strategy was more important than the strategy itself.” Take a minute to let that sink in - 90% is a serious statistic.

We have to face the facts: growing companies stall and get stuck in a growth phase referred to as No Man’s Land - the stage where growing companies are too big to be small and too small to be big.

How do you know if this is you? And if it is - how in the world do you get past No Man’s Land?

How to Recognize if You’re in No Man’s Land

Some emerging growth companies have a tendency to veer off course. Leadership teams lose sight of the end goal and CEOs become distracted.

“My company isn’t growing fast enough.”

“I’m working harder but making less money.”

“The old way of running my business isn’t working anymore.”

Do any of these statements sound familiar? If so, you’re probably in No Man’s Land.

Businesses in No Man’s Land typically experience difficulties in four main categories: market, management, model, and money.


These issues center on the relationship held between company and client or customer. It is imperative to your success to make promises you can keep. Entrepreneurs in No Man’s Land have a tendency to make promises they can only keep about 70% of the time - making for very unhappy customers.


Personally entrepreneurs typically have a hard time with this category. Growing a business sometimes requires there to be tough decisions made, like firing a close friend or relative. At this point, founders need to focus on hiring at the top in order to navigate their way through No Man’s Land.


An emerging growth company has to figure out how to provide product or service at scale while also earning profit. This involves having to create an economic model that supports and can handle your growing customer demand.


Do you have no cash on hand? Or worse - have more cash going out than coming back in? The underlying problem of this is that your business is too risky - you need to address all the issues in the above three categories to reduce the perceived risk of your business.

5 Steps to Help You Get Past No Man’s Land

If you’re in No Man’s Land now - don’t lose hope yet! We wouldn’t leave you without good advice. What kind of people would we be?!

These are five steps you can use to help your company get through No Man's Land.

1. Get Radically Objective About Your Business.

Great companies ask tough questions to get an accurate picture of the extent of team misalignment and each issue’s degree of urgency. Tough questions usually reveal tough decisions that must be made in order to get out of No Man’s Land.

2. Set a Clear Direction by Focusing on a Handful of Priorities.

92% of CEOs say their teams agree with and can clearly communicate their strategy while 2% of leadership teams can list the same strategic process.

3. Align the Team Through Routine Communication.

98% of teams are out of sync on No Man’s Land Issues.

When teams are aligned and focused on the right priorities companies experience at least a 20% increase in performance.

4. Keep Score to Hold Each Other Accountable.

86% of CEOs believe that everyone is held accountable for performance. Where as only 20% of leadership teams agree.

5. Adapt and Learn Quickly.

Make sure your team is remaining agile at all times. Make a decision and learn quickly from it.

Think you could use some more insight on how to grow your business successfully? Lucky for you there are experts who want to help just like the partners from Newport Board Group. Newport partners are CEOs and senior executives who guide companies through No Man’s Land℠ and help private equity firms acquire and grow these companies.

What are you waiting for? Learn more about No Man’s Land in the webinar detailed below.

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