New Delhi, India

10 mistakes - Part 5: The devil is in the details

By Sameer Kamboj, SKC World

Today in the fifth part of the tenpart series, 10 mistakes made by entrepreneurs on their path to scaling up, we focus on the theme of “the devil is in the details”. Execution of a successful venture requires a balance between an amazing plan or idea and the in-depth attention to executable details.

The devil lies in the details

When you hit upon a great idea and have decided to execute it through your entrepreneurial venture, the fifth potential mistake you now face is not paying enough attention to the details. Remember, however good your idea is – the devil always lies in the absolute details. Successful execution relies on mastering the granular details of your plan. When plans are made, we often leave out the minor details thinking that our determination to act and to get things done will automatically overcome those minor issues, only to realise later that those minor issues were critical stumbling blocks.

Why do we overlook the details?

I know of a brilliant entrepreneur who decided to start her own venture after serving long enough at senior positions in corporate positions across the globe. Her idea was brilliant and her years of expertise lay in her execution skills. She was confident and many fund houses supported her confidence through their investments.

When she got down to starting her own venture, the issue that brought her down was her “assumed” supportive relationship with her family. Through all these years of her global corporate life, she had failed to build her support blocks to take care of her personal, emotional and family needs.

She hadn’t realised that the people she counted on had their own priorities. Suddenly, she was hit with loneliness which she thought she could deal with, but it hit her like a train.

Her motivation to carry on was lost despite her having suffcient resilience and strength. Any number of new relationships, attention, fame and wealth were not giving her the motivation to go on. She had overestimated her own abilities and underestimated the existence of situations around and outside of herself.

Your plans need to incorporate the minutest of details based on real-time facts.

Over and underestimation:

1. Attitudinal estimations

Overestimating people’s interest in supporting and producing the outcome you desire is not just a matter of trusting others, it is an indication of your lack of understanding and engagement with them.

Everyone says the right things when it comes to having a conversation about attitudes and values, such as: We must respect people, allow people to grow, work in a team, innovate, be kind, be empathetic, remain patient, be organised, not carry stress, not instil fear, remain motivated, motivate others, have an eye for detail, remain goal-focused, and many similar positive statements.

Yet, when it comes to real-life situations, we often remain fearful, experience demotivation, are harsh to others, are selfish, unkind and so much more.

There is a vast gap between what should be and what is. Your success in life depends on your ability to bridge this gap and not remain falsely positive and delusional out of a desire to be a positive and motivated person. Being real never means being unpleasant or unduly serious. On the contrary, real people will naturally be pleasant and joyful. When rooted in truth, you live in a mode of self-acceptance and you embrace others around you with all their nuances. You do not feel the need to judge or over-estimate any more. You simply engage without expectation and others will open up to you for their improvement.

Those who make the mistake of being overly optimistic or overly pessimistic about other people’s attitudes can experience disappointment and unpleasant results and lose their own motivation.

Remain real and remain grounded! It is important to understand the truth and embrace it, rather than deceiving yourself.

2. Ability estimations

As with attitudes, you need to remain vigilant about your tendency to overlook deficiencies or to over or underestimate your own and your team’s abilities. The skill levels of various people working on a variety of tasks will often vary.

A lack of deeper engagement with your people can be a root cause of a faltering team. I don't have time, I’m busy, there are too many crises, I am tired of training people – these are some of the most common arguments you give to yourself.

Since you take so much on yourself, you continue to justify your lack of engagement with people. And in such a scenario you are left with no choice but to estimate, often inaccurately, their capabilities.

Success is consciously produced when you assess your people’s capabilities in collaboration with them, through well laid out processes and active personal engagement.

3. Willingness Estimations

I have witnessed corporates develop brilliant strategies for their future growth. While these strategies assume many factors, one of the most critical assumptions strategists make is that their people “want to actively participate in order to grow in their personal lives and professions”.

While there is no doubt about the fact that everyone in this world wishes to grow, an assumption that they want to grow and then to assume that they are willing to act to achieve their wishes is an assumption that can go horribly wrong.

There is a big difference between wanting to wake up in the morning and willingness to do so.

People are happy to express their desires, they are also happy to talk about all the things necessary to fulfil those desires – yet they are often unwilling to do these things themselves.

Willingness is needed in each individual and some examples of willingness are to think, collaborate, decide, participate, listen, analyse, sell, produce, improve, learn, support, seek, etc.

While everyone knows that they need to listen to others, most people find this to be one of the toughest tasks. The culprit here is a “low willingness” to listen. Having the intellect where one is aware of the need to listen, or even a sharper intellect where one knows that they do not listen, is often present as part of the problem of an inability to listen.

Your success and the scale-up of your venture depend on your ability to accurately estimate people’s willingness and not get confused merely by their desires.

4. Experiential estimations

Tangible and intangible achievements of the past lead to building over and underestimations about your ability to succeed or to fail. Every new business plan gets coloured by these experiential estimations that result in apprehensions, doubts or overconfidence about the expected outcomes. A mistake we live to regret.

Sameer Kamboj

Sameer Kamboj

GCG member firm
SKC World
Advisory, Auditing & Accounting, Tax
New Delhi, India
T: +91 11 41324 619
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Published: GGI Insider, No. 116, November 2021 l Photo: AlexAnton -


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