Begin with the End in Mind Tech Startup Edition
Hey everybody Chris Barnett here from Barnett Strategies, as some of you may know our mission is to help founders and entrepreneurs grow their business through better marketing and sales strategies and execution. Today we’re going to talk about a topic I believe in, and that is the idea and the process and the task of beginning with the end in mind.
Some of you may be familiar with the Stephen Covey book 7 Habits, personally I’m not a huge believer in self-help business books or self-help books, but this one is really a winner. The part of it that I found to be the most useful to apply in business is beginning with the end in mind. Which means that everything is created twice: first in your visualization, first in your mind, first on your plans and then in the real world in your execution. It’s one of these things that is easy to say and maybe sounds obvious but that most people don’t do. So if you have a specific commitment to have this top of mind and to do this all the time, it really makes a huge difference in my experience.
If we’re understanding the end result whether it’s the day, a task, a project and you have a clear vision whether you lay it out on a whiteboard, on a piece of paper, in a PowerPoint or you have it visualized in your visual imagination that really helps you to create a plan.
With startups and working with founders and entrepreneurs, I always talk about five dimensions of goals. It’s not just about number two the revenue goal and the cash flow goal, everybody has that but there are four other dimensions that can’t be neglected: market acceptance, commercial deployments, end-user adoption, getting monthly active users so you don’t have shelfware and increasing your shareholder value. Whether it’s for the exit, for the next round or just to be making progress and have your shareholders and board members be happy. These are all obviously five good things that everybody would want, support and be excited about but my point is that all five of these need to be articulated on a quarter by quarter basis in six quarter plan with a timeline attached and that needs to tie out to the strategies and the project plan, the Gantt chart that you’re building to get your company going to where you specifically defined it as your destination.
What’s challenging about setting goals for those five things is everything you do unfortunately has trade-offs. One of my mottos is I hate trade-offs and yet they exist and you have to cope with it. So we created this matrix of goal trade-offs as you can see that starts to illustrate the fact that everything you do from a strategy and tactical perspective in your business is gonna have trade-offs. For example, take this one on the bottom first customer discount, you’ve got a product rolling out, you’re trying to get your first customer or your first big marquee customer on board and the thought is let’s give a discount to get that customer on board, use their logo as a flagship to attract more business. Well, that’s gonna be great for market acceptance, it’s gonna be great for getting a commercial deployment with that customer, but it’s not really gonna have any impact on end-user adoption. End users are gonna like your product or not, independent of whether you give the corporate buyer a discount and it’s obviously going to hurt cash flow. You can see the logic here that things like offering a free trial is gonna help with market acceptance, its gonna help with commercial deployments, but in red it’s gonna hurt you in terms of revenue and cash flow. So what you have to do is look at your major strategies and tactics and how they’re gonna impact the five dimensions of goals. Then it’s just some calculus to figure out what’s the optimal solution that uses the amount of resources you have and doesn’t require more, gets you to those goals on the schedule that you have and does it pressure test successfully when you look at it and say does everything add up the way we need it to add up.
That’s my philosophy on beginning with the end in mind if you want to ping me I would be happy to work with you on the details thanks very much and have a great day. chris (at) barnettstrategies.com