10 Startup Tips
Chapter 23: Development Strategy
Your business is growing and doing well.
You have revenue.
You know where the money is.
It’s time to get your business plan out of your drawer
and read it again.
It’s time to think if you’re on the right track to grow your business.
The word “strategy” may sound like a big deal to a small business,
but even if you just jot down a few thoughts on the back of a pack of cigarettes,
it shows that you haven’t stopped thinking about direction its business.
Common problems here are:
Small business owners spend too much time in the office with no time outside.
Shell’s story at the beginning has the message
that successful businesses have had to change
and adapt to the needs of customers.
Consider the following:
Tom Hunter, a recent accounting graduate from the University of Strathclyde,
couldn’t find a job.
He was rejected by companies and many small businesses.
Therefore, he decided to start a business from his father’s garage.
He thinks there will be a market for sneakers.
With serious intentions but widely seen as a joke,
he wrote to the stores saying
that his company was a fast-growing footwear company
and wanted to have a stall in their store.
The three stores agreed,
and for months he drove across the country delivering deliveries
and was left with only a few hours of sleep in the back of a truck,
among boxes of shoes.
The work has paid off, over time,
he has built and franchised about 40 stores.
Only then did he decide to open his own stall
with the Sports Division brand.
Things went well and in 1995,
he had the opportunity to buy the declining Olympus Sports shoe company.
Three years later,
Tom Hunter sold his business for £290 million and he made £260 million.
When talking about his strategy,
“I never had a specific goal in mind
when I was new to the business,
I just wanted to grow.
There is a specific logic between our business
and our attitude of wanting to work,
do one thing at a time and see how it goes.”
Some simple tips on strategy
Here are some important things to remember about strategy.
Focus on customer needs:
This may sound obvious.
Because there are many companies
(especially in the field of information technology) have fallen into the trap
of “Glossy goods symptom”.
They are passionate about making the product lovely,
shiny, but completely forget
why the customer wants the product in the first place.
Remember, style needs can change quickly.
So a good strategy here is to start with examining the customer’s wishes in an ideal world.
In successful companies,
strategy often originates with employees exposed to reality,
not in the management department.
No one is closer to and understands the customer’s wishes than the cashier.
Beware of the Law of Unforeseen Consequences:
Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,
coined this law.
He closely observes many technologies and many companies,
most of which end up almost contrary to their original intentions.
when a computer company launched a space program,
the Internet was designed as a civilian defense network in the event of nuclear war
(and is now one of the threats to the world).
The BBC has set up clusters of wireless factories
to sell more of the station’s airwaves.
look at mobile phones
– a ton of money has been spent on high-tech 3G,
but the biggest growth has been in the small messages.
The danger is that you spend too much time locked up in the lab inventing
amazing things without verifying what the customer really wants.
Take the time and space for trial and error:
You may not be able to satisfy customer needs right away,
so start your business on the cheap;
Take the time to figure out what your customers really want.
Share the plan:
Explaining your plan to someone can make it clearer in your head.
Don’t keep it in mind,
as a lot of startups say:
I don’t want to tell anyone my idea because they can steal
and implement it themselves.
success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.
Don’t overestimate your ideas,
and don’t assume that others will be lazy.
Get the right advice
Take advantage of the wisdom and experience of those
who have gone before
Starting a business is like trying to climb a mountain with only shorts,
and a map in hand.
(Excerpt from businessman Gio Benedetti)
When you start a business,
you seem to have entered a foreign country,
but it is not.
Millions of people were there before you.
Many people have the same business as you.
Even in different business areas,
there will be valuable knowledge.
I am very pleased with the saying:
The advice of seasoned entrepreneurs is as precious as gold.
Such people are often referred to as mentors,
and that’s who you very much want to be.
So how do you find such a person?
How to find a mentor?
Let’s invite the bride to dance.
I asked a new bride how she felt about her wedding.
She said she was very disappointed
that no one invited her to dance.
That is also the reason why supermodels often date people who look quite odd.
Ordinary people are timid and do not dare to ask.
Here are some tips to help you find an entrepreneur who can mentor you:
Step 1: Visualize this person’s work in mind.
Think about the experiences and advice you need.
Is it general advice on how to build a business from scratch,
or a piece of advice for your own niche or local target market?
if you’re building a coffee shop,
talk to the owner of a clothing store in your area
that might tell you someone is running a McDonald’s franchise somewhere else
entirely especially in the country.
Immediately don’t think,
“I want to be an entrepreneur,
I have to talk to Richard Branson.”
Step 2: Once you have a good review of the mentor,
ask everyone around:
Chamber of Commerce,
business support organizations,
Even if that’s not possible,
remember the Law of the Seven Degrees of Separation
– a theory that says everyone in the world is linked together in seven steps.
Someone will know someone and this person will know another person.
You just need to have a clear mind about what you want.
Step 3: Convince them to agree.
It’s not about the money
but the time they give you for free
– most of the best mentors will want to do that
if you tell them your idea.
However, there are also some guidelines for finding a mentor:
Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Many successful entrepreneurs say they want to help young people,
but no one asks.
Entrepreneurs all have huge egos
and love to make it more polished by passing on wisdom to the next generation.
Ask them directly.
Don’t stare blankly at the ceiling and sigh:
“Oh, I wish I could find a mentor…”.
The worst they can do is say no
– and they will probably feel guilty about saying no and refer someone else.
When starting the mobile phone business DX Communication,
Richard Emmanuel wrote a letter to Sir Tom Farmer,
founder of Kwik-Fit, asking for advice.
He was startled
when he immediately received an answer that he could talk face to face.
they have collaborated on quite a few business projects.
Despite being Scotland’s most successful businessman,
Tom says people rarely ask him for advice.
(This might be a good idea
if we all didn’t immediately pick up the phone and call him.)
Don’t ask them about money.
Don’t waste their time.
For successful people,
their rarest resource is time.
Don’t take the relationship seriously,
and don’t ask too much and too often:
20 minutes of valuable advice is better than 3 hours a week
asking for advice from someone.
Likewise, don’t bore them with petty questions
– ask them strategic questions.
Why stop at a mentor?
There’s no reason you can’t have multiple mentors.
A good group of mentors can be relatives,
colleagues or someone in business.
It’s best if you take the time to sit down
and think about your business
and try to explain it to someone else.
“I find it hard to find anyone who agrees to be my mentor.”
(Vikki, is setting up a PA company)
I get more feedback on mentoring than any other topic in this book.
I will present a new approach that I call the “Ninja Mentor”.
“Mentor Ninja” means having someone become your mentor
without them realizing it.
In other words, “founded proximity”.
Asking a relative stranger to be your mentor is almost
like exchanging a wedding ring on a first date.
It became too fast and heavy.
Instead, only call or write for advice when you feel stuck.
You can invite them out for coffee
after the third or fourth consultation.
Before you know it,
you need a mentor
and they don’t even realize it.
They have stolen my idea?
“My business advisor told me
I wouldn’t succeed and advised me to sell my product to him and work for him.”
(France, works in publishing)
Do you often worry about the deceased?
The question will steal your ideas.
You can’t blame them,
I often meet people who ask for advice,
but they don’t say anything about their business.
This makes it very difficult for me to help them.
Always keep the following advice in mind:
Our only competitive advantage is being six months ahead of the competition.
Those are the words of the president of one of the five largest banks in the world.
Nine out of ten times,
what makes your business successful is instantaneous.
Don’t think your ideas are too precious and keep them.
Seek advice from experts and consultants
If you can get good advice from them for free why should you pay?
However, good professionals, whether lawyers,
marketers or career consultants,
often have years of experience in a particular field.
They can save you months of messing around.
Therefore, you should be willing to pay for their advice.
Obviously, consultants often have a bad reputation.
But often it’s due to ineffective use of advice,
not because of bad advice.
The problem is that when they become part of your business,
you often rely on them to make decisions.
Always use the best mentors possible,
but use them sparingly and in the areas where they are best.
When they begin to advise others of their wisdom
– get rid of them.
That’s not harsh at all,
as any good consultant will tend to move on to new clients no matter what.