Strategy for Start-upsSubmitted by Dylan Miller
Do Entrepreneurs Need a Strategy?
You would think that a carefully thought-out strategic plan would be done first? Actually not always, sometimes, not all the time, as the excitement of starting a new business venture or project gets away from the entrepreneur, who starts first and relies on gut instinct to get up and running quickly to sell, sell, sell. This usually results in working in a reactive and high-stress environment.
Now if the idea is a unique one, all one does is to alert your closest competitor that you have found something they haven’t got yet. If for some reason the innovator or pioneer entrepreneur has missed something big, or miss-read the customer needs - all the entrepreneur does is to open the door to a competitor follower strategy or even a leapfrog strategy.
Remember if mistakes are done with a great idea, a follower strategy is a competitor who follows but fixes the mistakes the pioneer does to leapfrog and take overall market share.
Sony vs Amazon Example
Sony pioneered the e-reader with a first to market Sony product. It was a fantastic-looking, high-end premium e-reader, but it was flawed. Sony missed an opportunity to make it affordable and wi-fi compatible to download content.
As the result, Amazon launched Kindle 8-months later and when you think of buying an e-reader we all think of Kindle - Not Sony, and that is why a good strategy is so important.
I am sure you will agree with me that the opportunity cost is too high not to have a strategy in place. If you miss the target by an inch or a mile it is a missed opportunity, which can cost you months of valuable time to reinvent something and then try and win over converted advocates of your competition! That's why a carefully thought-out strategy is so important.
Don’t Confuse Grit for Strategy
Entrepreneurs, who operate with a fog of uncertainty may worry that exploration will delay commercialisation? That is why entrepreneurs could go with the first practical strategy that comes to mind, this derails the deliberate and planning which accompanies careful STRATEGISING.
“Screw it, just do it and get on and try it.”— Richard Branson
This quote is about grit, by owning the determination to try something new and if it fails, try again. But do not confuse this quote for an excuse not to STRATEGISE! Don’t pontificate, get going, get it done, and get strategising.
Strategy is a Simple Process
A strategy is actually a basic approach that the business or (business unit) will use to attain its goals and comprises of decisions (strategies) on critical factors, like; largest markets, market positioning, competitive advantages, marketing mix, and marketing expenditure allocation.
Then a strategy is a process of calculating the business operations movements to attain a specific outcome. It should be a strategic directive, which is a flexible roadmap for everyone to easily follow.
Types of Strategy Consulting
Traditionally the market for strategy consulting services consists of eight disciplines:
Corporate Strategy.Business Model Transformation.Economic Policy.Mergers & Acquisitions.Organisational Strategy.Functional Strategy.Strategy & Operations.Digital Strategy.
The concern is although there are thousands of strategy firms and consultants offering strategy consulting as a service, the global market is still largely fragmented, with a small number of firms that have the global reach and reputation at the top of the market.
The market typically distinguishes between consulting firms that exclusively focus on (a) strategy and operations or (b) multi-service firms. The difference is a strategy niche specialist or a strategy or marketing generalist. With digital disrupting business as we know it, a new kind of digital strategy is fundamentally important - this has given rise to new consultancy’s who exclusively specialise in digital. But if you are not the average corporate firm that can afford top consulting services from specialists you may think you are in trouble, but actually a multi-service firm or generalist consultant would be a great fit for bespoke strategic consulting.
Components of a Strategy
The internet is full of free and paid templates and consultants to companies all offering strategies. Generally, the pricing varies, so the old cliche saying “You get what you pay for”, is prevalent in the professional services industry since time equals money, spending quality time with a client will cost more than not spending quality time with a client.
A Custom-made Strategy Consists of:
A Research Component.The Strategy Component.Marketing Tactics Component.An Operational Plan.
These are the components that are required to formulate a detailed strategy. The purpose and auditing make up the in-depth business research. Time taken to complete this will depend on the complexity of the company and what is part of the researched data. This data populates the SWOT analysis before designing your strategy. Step 7 is selecting the marketing tools required to realise the strategy, followed by the action planning, scheduling, and budgeting.
Start-up Strategic Planning Options
If you can afford a strategic plan with research performed and facilitated, then I will highly recommend it and it is worth the investment since you cannot beat paying for an in-depth, deep-dive audit on your business by a third party professional. A custom-made strategy is made specifically to meet the needs of your business and we can make it a business strategy or a strategic marketing plan with a brand, digital, communication, viral or content strategy added. This approach will be a complete business audit where high-level discussions are around brand gap analysis and digital gap analysis as these are two areas that need constant work. To receive a plan outlining why your digital marketing is poor and how to fix it which also affects your brand strategy in attracting a specific persona will change how to sell and talk to your customers - That's why a custom-made strategy is worth every cent.
Then there are the strategist’s traits of being “self-motivated”, “highly adaptable”, and a “fast learner” will serve your strategic process well in uncovering the elements you require for success. There is simply no substitution for tenacity, the more time your strategist spends with you, the better the strategic outcome will be.
COVID-19 and Strategy
COVID-19 has disrupted business and our social wellbeing and over the past two years, I have been in contact with people who have been severely disrupted by COVID, sometimes resulting in a complete industry change. Due to this new circumstance, what strategists were offering is no longer all that relevant. Instead of open group meetings and close 1-on-1 contact, more virtual meetings and online workshops are taking place. Then the big one, the affordability factor, I have lost count of the many people I have come in contact with who have been negatively affected by the pandemic, and who cannot afford a strategy, but know they need it. With all these new dynamics taking place, I felt it necessary to create a new strategic option to fit the COVID-affected start-up business.
StratToSuccess© is a specially formulated strategy for startups in an easy-to-read plan. While it does not replace a full-blown strategy, it certainly is a better alternative to downloading a ready-made template and doing it on your own. I wanted to deliver a premium service of a high-impact strategy and good strategic insight which stems from creating the StratToSuccess© strategic formula. When we offer this as an online facilitated workshop the client gets a written strategy emailed after a virtual 90-minutes session. This is aimed at micro-business, start-ups, and strategic business units that need direction and importantly they need third-party intervention to help navigate through the clutter. It won’t suit mid to large-scale business complex operations, but that wasn’t the idea of creating it in the first place.
Do-It-Yourself strategy is something you will tackle on your own.
Make sure your staff knows what to do. Do not leave it on a shelf. It must be flexible and repeatable. Make plans ‘SMART’ Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Based.
A custom-made strategy including a strategist facilitator and in-depth market research.
A professional strategy facilitated. Robust and Dependable Methodology.Custom-made to suit your business.Add-on brand, digital, communication, lean business, or viral strategy.Forces Creative Innovation & DynamicBrainstorming.Analyses Key Critical Success Factors. Identifies Key Differentiators. Determines your Economic Engine. A detail-orientated and in-depth strategic plan. The research component is scalable for other business functions.
Who is this for:
For any business looking for an in-depth custom-made strategy.
A professionally written strategy including a strategist, and excluding all research.
Professionally facilitated online. An affordable high-impact strategy.Robust and Dependable Methodology.Forces Creative Innovation & DynamicBrainstorming.Analyses Key Critical Success Factors. Identifies Key Differentiators. Determines your Economic Engine.
Who is this for:
StratToSuccess© is for start-ups that are looking for a cost-effective strategy.
The answer to the first question of: Do entrepreneurs need a strategy? The answer will always be a yes. A strategy is designed to help you choose which customers you are going to target, and how you will position and deliver your offer in a way that makes you meaningfully different from your competitors.
A strategy is easy to follow, adaptable, and flexible to scaling up and improving leadership alignment. whether it be for a startup business venture or an existing company, the methodology and strategic outcomes are the same, as it’s your roadmap to business success.