To get started, companies should take the time to do a SWOT analysis -- a strategic planning assessment that helps companies analyze strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The product’s biggest strength was that it hadn’t been done before, but its weakness was that transit systems did not have the infrastructure in place. The startup exploited the opportunity of creating a brand new market, and it avoided the threat of another company releasing a similar app by developing the infrastructure required to make the payment system work. The next step, what I call MOKM (Mission, Objective, Key Results and Measures), is about turning ideas into concrete actions. Key results are the tasks that must be completed in order to achieve the objective. Each of the company’s functional areas are given at least one mission, and those missions should encompass three to five objectives. The objectives are defined by key results, each with specific measures. Define how the work will get done. The final step is to delegate tasks and establish accountability with the RACI process. Having a clear strategy that defines who is responsible for certain tasks and in what order they need to be carried out eliminates ambiguity and makes teams more effective.
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Startups pushing to enter the market at just the right moment have no time to rest on their laurels after coming up with a great idea. But many still make the mistake of moving forward without a detailed strategy for turning that burst of inspiration into reality. A study featured in Entrepreneur cites a “lack of persistence” as the third most common reason why startups fail. Without a clear strategy, companies often get sidetracked. Constant changes in direction can result in wasted money, time and energy.
Once your company’s mission, or North Star, is solidly in focus, it’s time to start plotting a course that will ensure the company reaches its goals. Taking a systematic approach, in which big ideas are broken down into measurable objectives, can help teams stay organized and accountable as they plot a roadmap toward eventual exit.
Examining all factors that can affect the success of your business, both internal and external, is a fundamental step toward building a viable strategy. The next step is to establish missions that align with the company’s North Star. Finally, companies need to determine early on when the work will get done, who will do it and how progress will be measured.
Identify headwinds and tailwinds.
To get started, companies should take the time to do a SWOT analysis — a strategic planning assessment that helps companies analyze strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This allows founders to pinpoint advantages that will help the business move forward, as well as the hurdles that might slow it down.
Think about how each factor complements or negates other factors — how your company’s internal strengths allow you to take advantage of opportunities and avoid external threats and how internal weaknesses may prevent you from doing those things. For example, your company might have a highly skilled engineering team that develops innovative solutions but fails to meet its deadlines, so the company misses opportunities to beat competitors to market. A company’s core strategy should include steps to make improvements in these areas and to prevent problems from snowballing later on.
SWOT can also be used to evaluate a product’s viability. One of my clients developed a secure mobile app that allows transit customers to purchase train, bus and ferry fares on the go without having to stop at a ticket booth or machine. The payment system could be replicated for other transit systems…