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Scaling in tech: Why thinking BIG is the only way forward

Successfully scaling a business in any industry requires huge ambition and ideas that set you apart from your competitors. This sentiment is amplified significantly when it comes to scaling a tech business, where thinking big is crucial if you are to break through the noise of a vastly saturated sector. To discuss the importance of big thinking, along with the common challenges facing tech founders, we called on the priceless expertise of Frank Slootman, CEO of Snowflake, and Jitse Groen, founder and CEO of Takeaway.com—two pivotal figures in the Dutch tech ecosystem.

Focus. Focus. Focus.

Having a clear vision and understanding of what you want to achieve, along with a defined path of how to do so, is vital. Set ambitious but realistic benchmarks in your plan that you can review at three, six and twelve months, each of which build towards your overarching strategy. 

Developing this focus and clarity will help you avoid distractions from outside noise, something which there will be much of during scaling periods. A lot of your daily work won’t actually be on the business’ current period, rather preparing for future scenarios—this means you need that detailed map of where you want to be in the long-term. 

This isn’t to say adjustments can’t be made within your main strategy. If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that agility and the ability to pivot are almost certainly going to be needed.

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Founding a business is easy. Building it is the challenge.

Without a doubt, there will be times when things become incredibly frustrating. Tough choices are inevitable and while it might be difficult, you should always tackle issues head-on before they develop into something bigger.

Full growth mode is rarely straightforward or comfortable, so you have to be fully invested and honest with yourself if you’re to truly understand what is needed to drive the business forward. As a founder, it’s easy to become attached to an idea despite evidence suggesting it isn’t necessarily going to work. It’s your responsibility to do what is best for the business, even if that means swallowing your pride—it’s in these instances when surrounding yourself with a strong team, and breeding a culture that encourages debate and collaboration between peers, proves invaluable, 

Equally, though, the creative process is one of the most rewarding parts of running a company, and ultimately is something to enjoy. Excitement comes from innovating and creating, an attitude any tech founder should be instilling from the top down.

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Not all founders are CEOs

This is a common hurdle that many tech startups encounter as they transition from founding to scaling stage. Founders rightfully have an endless affinity with the business they’ve started, and naturally often have a desire to remain as CEO and lead throughout the journey. 

This means it can be difficult to remove personal feelings and make the tough decisions necessary to protect the long-term health of the business. The founder and CEO mindsets are vastly different—you need to detach yourself and genuinely assess whether you are, in fact, the right person for that position. There are, of course, plenty of founders who do go on to become immensely successful CEOs, the transformation just requires a sizable pivot that might feel unnatural to many. 

Scaling any tech company is arguably the biggest rollercoaster of any sector, and at a time when stakeholders expect a clear-cut route to a return on their investment, there is enormous pressure to prove exactly how, and when your ideas will deliver. However, parallel to that pressure are these tremendous highs that come from building something, often from almost nothing. Among all of the unpredictability, one thing is for certain—that as a founder of any scaling tech business, thinking big, thinking huge, is indispensable.


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