What are some startup strategy best practices
I wanted to write this post in the spirit of what I wish I had known when I launched my startup. Reflecting on the ten or eleven-year journey of building TheCodeFactory, I would recommend five startup strategy best practices to founders. The order of the resources matters because the tools and concepts build upon each other in a layered fashion.
Startup founders need to have a strategic and tactical perspective when building a startup. Founders need to determine which level is the best perspective to look at any given problem. The upper levels give you that strategic perspective to do course correction. The lower levels enable you to view the issues with high resolution. It is easy to get lost in all the trees instead of seeing the forest. Knowing when to elevate your perspective or dive into the detail is an essential startup survival skill. The startup strategy best practices provide helpful tools to help keep your perspective.
Getting Things Done – 6 Horizons of Focus
I have spent much time looking for a framework that covers strategy to action, and in my opinion, the six levels of focus by David Allen are by far the best. Getting things done outlines the six horizons of focus, and this is an excellent framework for founders to think about strategy and tactics. When you couple the six horizons of focus with a timeframe, this is a fantastic lens to view the strategy and tactics of your startup. I highly recommend getting to know and understand the six horizons of focus concept.
Scaling Up – One Page Strategic Planner
The book Scaling Up by Verne Harnish is one of the best methodologies ever written on scaling a business from 100 to 1,000 employees. The One Page Strategic Planner (OPSP) is an excellent tool for summarizing your startup’s high-level goals and objectives. The great thing about this tool is that everything is all in one place on one piece of paper (two-sided). I highly recommend the OPSP as a great example of how to do strategic planning.
Harold Cameron – Vivid Vision
Vivid vision is an excellent tool to help clarify a founder’s vision. For example, here is a quote from Cameron Herold’s website:
“Creating a Vivid Vision brings the future into the present, so we can have clarity on what we are building now. It is a detailed overview of what my business will look like, feel like and act like three years out–by December 31st, 2022. Sharing it with others helps it become reality! Because of their clarity, CEOs globally are using Vivid Visions instead of the traditional Mission or Vision Statements, and COOs are helping to ensure they become reality.”
Good to Great – BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal
If you are looking for a good reference on setting BIG goals, look no further than the book Good to Great and the BHAG. I believe in goals, and Good to Great is perhaps one of the best books ever written on high-performance organizational culture.
“Like the moon mission, a true BHAG is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort– often creating immense team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines.”
Traction – Vision Traction Organizer
I highly recommend the book Traction by Gino Wickham, which provides tools and frameworks for growing our business from 10 to 100 employees. Traction describes the Entrepreneurial Operating System, which has many valuable tools and frameworks. The Vision Traction Organizer (VTO) provides an excellent framework for organizing vision to project to tasks. The book has other tools like the Accountability Chart (a new take on the organization chart) and the Issue processing format. Traction and EOS provide an excellent tool for aligning strategic goals with tactical execution.
Startups operate on both strategic and tactical levels. Strategy is the founder’s long-term vision and 40,000-foot view of what the startup will be. While execution, on the other hand, is the ground level of daily tactical actions that lead toward achieving the vision. When building a new business, you need to consider both strategy and execution. The five best practices outlined in this post give you resources to help navigate and orient yourself during the launch phase.
Founders need both strategic and tactical perspectives. The startup strategy best practices provide the levels, domains, and timeframes to help you better understand your startup from different perspectives. I genuinely hope these best practices give you the tools to understand the different levels of startup operations.
Ian Paul Graham
“I help startup founders find product-market fit and build digital demand teams.”