Fear of growth kills ambition

Thursday, January 10, 2019
Technology Park Ljubljana is an innovative tech community of more than three hundred companies, uniting entrepreneurs, innovators and researchers. For them, the technology park organizes a series of supporting and educational events, helping them get into excellent shape, which they need in the Slovenian as well as the very competitive international environment.
Besides startups, the park has been focusing on supporting scale-ups over the past few years – companies that have ten or more employees, at least a million euros in annual turnover, and more than 20-percent average annual growth in turnover over the past three years. A recent first event in Technology Park, called TNT (Top ‘n’ Tech) – technology explosion – gathered the cream of the crop of already established growing Slovenian companies. They can act as inspiration to startup companies and others who have a business idea but don’t know how to make use of it, by showing that with the right sales, design and marketing, it is possible to break through to even the global top.

Role model for those with potential and ambition
“Slovenia can boast with high quality of life, which is amongst our highest values, and we are actually very proud of it,” explains Dr Jernej Pintar, builder of the Technology Park Ljubljana community. “It can happen that a company declines foreign capital for expansion, because we highly value family and free time. On the one hand, this is fantastic, but on the other, it’s a trap, because many companies get caught in their fear of growth, which kills their ambition. At first, the company has a few people who all know each other, then there are suddenly twenty and more, and they don’t know each other that well anymore. They were used to the leader being the best in all areas, a true “Terminator” who knew how to handle technology, lead finances, sell, and sweep the floor on top of it all.”

Then the company comes to a point where they have to build a team that will take over the reins, which is difficult because everyone is used to familiarity and the psychological position they had. An event such as TNT, which will become a regular feature, will be the place where companies that managed to overcome this fear will meet. “If you form a team around you that will be even stronger than you, then you also become twice as strong – it empowers you,” says Dr Printar and adds that many people are afraid of that, so they don’t wish to jump from a few dozen employees to a higher number. When those who have potential and ambition (but still have some breaks on) gather, they can show others that growth isn’t such a big problem. This is the only way to survive, otherwise they trample you. Such meetings raise ambition, release the breaks and free growth, while at the same time spread best practice of how to attract good staff and talents from abroad and how to face mistakes.”

Mistakes are like a bogeyman in the closet
Of course, mistakes are also part of the business life, but many Slovenian companies are scared to talk about them. In the Western business world, it is completely commonplace for companies to say, already when preparing the plan, that things might turn differently than they expect. “Here, it’s practically criminal if you don’t get it right on the first try,” is the critique of Dr Jernej Pintar. “In many companies, they practically don’t talk about mistakes. There is only a handful of companies where talking about mistakes is commonplace. When it comes to this point, the company culture changes – nobody hides their mistakes anymore, so they’re learning from them and don’t repeat them. What’s most important is that we stop being afraid of them then. Companies with scared staff are rigid and slow, and when there’s a “fire”, nobody is putting it out. Only a company who’s aware of this problem and is solving it can be competitive on the global market, unlike the company in which mistakes are still a bogeyman under the bed.”

Read the full article at (in Slovene).

Photo: Dr. Jernej Pintar, builder of the Technology Park Ljubljana community (Photo: Foto: TPL)