Navigating Business in startups: the Role of People and Competencies

In the dynamic landscape of startups, where change is constant and resources are limited, the success of a company relies on more than just a groundbreaking idea or cutting-edge technology. The real driving force behind sustainable growth lies in the assembly of a team equipped with the right competencies. As we dig deeper into the importance of competencies in scaling a business, it’s essential to recognize the central role they play in achieving growth.

The Paradigm Shift

Gone are the days when a startup could rely solely on a revolutionary idea or groundbreaking technology. In the contemporary business environment, success demands more than just innovation; it requires a comprehensive set of competencies. While engineering competencies remain crucial, the ability to navigate complex commercial landscapes is equally vital. This shift reflects the need for advanced skills in market analysis, product development, pricing strategies, efficient sales processes management and many others.

The Era of Specialists

Specialization has become a hallmark of success in the modern business era. Sales, marketing, and product development have evolved into complex domains, each requiring a specific skill set. A content expert might excel in copy writing, but that doesn’t guarantee ingenuity in market analysis or proficiency in running an internet campaign. Similarly, a Sales Development Representative may excel in initiating the sales pipeline, yet closing deals requires a different skill set.

Competence Alone Doesn’t Guarantee Success

While having competent individuals is a cornerstone, it’s not the sole guarantor of success. The strategic alignment of roles and functions within a company is equally critical. A competent and skillful generalist at the top must understand the strategic prerequisites for moving the company forward and know how to efficiently structure the diverse functions within.

Common Mistakes in People Management

Achieving success in business growth is not merely about having competent individuals. It’s about assembling a team with the right mix of competences and ensuring that these competencies align seamlessly to drive the company forward.

The common mistakes in competence management include:

Lack of strategic priorities – when the company doesn’t have clear strategy and clear business model, as well as the clarity of priorities in strategy execution, the management can have problems with identifying the leading competences and synchronizing them around the strategy implementation.

Overlooking the power of synergy – synergy is a powerful lever in business management. Synergy occurs when combined efforts bring the effect greater than the sum of the separate effects. This happens when the team members’ work is harmonized around clear processes in which tasks are clearly divided and linked with each other. Lack of synergy management happens when people work in silos and avoid sharing the information. As a result, they often initiate counter-productive efforts which bring major efficiency loss.

Overlooking the role of communication – a regular communication flow between the team members guarantees the efficient orchestration of efforts. Inefficient communication among team members can result in a lack of synergy, leading to duplicated efforts and tasks.

Avoiding common people management mistakes further enhances the likelihood of scaling the business efficiently in today’s competitive and volatile business landscape.


About the author:

Agnieszka Węglarz is an independent consultant, business strategist and practitioner in B2B and B2C, as well as lecturer, speaker and blogger. She has over 25 years of professional experience working as manager in both large corporations and SMEs, where she was responsible for strategy, marketing and business development. She uses her long term executive experience and training expertise to assist companies and their managers in building and implementing their business strategies. She specializes in business modeling, segmentation, value proposition, sales and marketing strategies as well as consultative selling. She runs her own consultancy business, as well as cooperates with Google for Startups as the business modeling expert and mentor in the acceleration programs. Agnieszka is an author of many business publications. You can read her writing on her business blog on You can contact her directly by sending a message via LinkedIN.