By Ernst Gemassmer
Some entrepreneurs are so caught up in their dream that they jump immediately into implementation, with no focus on strategy and tactics first. The result is that when they hit the first obstacle (and there will be many), it seems like the end of the road. They don’t have any idea which way to turn.
Based on my own experience, there is real value in spending time early on building the overall strategy and tactics for your business, before you charge ahead. These are key to transforming your vision into a solid written plan, soliciting the initial funding, and adapting to required changes during implementation.
Here is a summary of the steps I recommend along the way:
- Turn your dream into a vision. What is the difference between a dream and a vision? A dream is a fantasy, while a vision has to be grounded in reality. You have to think about your dream, discuss it with friends, partners, and experts until it finally becomes more definitive and concrete. Thus, your initial dream gets turned into your personal vision.
- Convert your vision into a strategy and plan. With the help of trusted friends and associates you can now convert the vision into a written plan with a definitive strategy. Now the vision has become understandable to potential funding partners. They can clearly see that you have done your homework, understand the marketplace and have assembled a virtual team, i.e. a real team, subject to funding.
- Find friends, Angels, or VCs to fund your plan. Count on numerous presentations and pitches, but the next step is to convert your vision into a detailed strategy for implementation, and obtain the initial funding you need. Even with this vision and strategy, you still won’t see and be able to navigate many of the obstacles ahead.
- Now is the time to develop tactics to support your strategy. This is where your leadership is critical in working with the new team on implementation tactics. During this process you are looking for affordable space, defining the roles of your team members, defining the product/service, developing initial sales channels and customers. These efforts are time consuming and take all of the energy you and your new team can muster. Don’t get lost in the details and loose sight of the overall strategy.
- Change tactics, adapt the strategy, but don’t lose the vision. You, the founder and leader of the new team should periodically sit back and remind yourself of the ultimate objective and the strategy to reach this goal. Do not fail to review the assumptions underlying your initial strategy. If one or more of the key assumptions have changed, do not fail to adapt your strategy, modify your tactics, and iterate.
In my own experience I have at times been frustrated by fundamental changes affecting my business, which I did note in passing, but failed to properly evaluate. Of special importance are changes in the following areas: technology, competition and new legislation affecting your planned business. Pay attention to change signals at every step.
My recommendation is for you to pursue your dream, develop a vision, followed by a strategy and hopefully successful implementation. You as the leader should lead your team from the front, by sharing your vision, strategy and tactics. It is fine to modify or change implementation if the overall situation changes, as long as the ultimate goal is still achievable and meaningful. In leading from the front you will focus on adapting your tactics to achieve success, rather than looking for something or someone to blame for a failed dream.
Today’s article is presented by one of the founders of our Startup Professionals team, Ernst H. Gemassmer. He resides on the West Coast, and has long helped entrepreneurs there, as well as providing turn-around assistance as interim CEO, and International coaching. You can contact him directly at email@example.com.