How do you maintain a 20,000 foot strategic view of your startup and business, while frantically managing the day-to-day efforts?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot, because it’s something I’m dealing with now. Immediately after launching Standout Jobs, things accelerated incredibly. And that should be the goal of every startup. Prior to launching you’re focused primarily on product development, but after launch there are a million other issues to deal with. Acceleration is good. It’s certainly better than the alternative! But how do you manage that – most of which involves day-to-day issues (like acquiring customers, customer support, managing the team, handling bugs, etc.) – while still keeping an overall eye on your strategic vision and goal?
You Had a Vision Right?
Most startups launch with a goal. Big or small, you’re launching a startup with a purpose in mind. And presumably some amount of strategy went into setting that goal and vision, and some amount of strategy will be needed to succeed. Moving the ball forward each and every day is important, but there are always larger forces at work, and bigger picture issues to deal with.
So how do you do it?
Maintaining a 20,000 Foot View of Your Startup
It’s definitely easy to lose sight of the 20,000 foot strategic goals and vision when battling daily issues. What’s worse, is how easy it becomes to change strategies quickly when you lose sight of what you were originally setting out to do. Strategies, goals and visions will change. There’s no doubt about that. But it strikes me how easy it is to change gears too quickly because of factors “on the ground” … without stepping back and taking an overall view of things.
On that front, here are some things I’ve been thinking about further:
- Have a Strong Vision. The stronger your initial vision and goal, the better. That doesn’t mean your business needs to be dedicated to saving the planet, or some massively grandiose mission of dethroning Google and being worth $20 billion in a single year. But whatever your goal – keep it top-of-mind, believe in it, and reference it on a regular basis. Chances are when the going gets tough, you’ll ask yourself, “Why the hell am I doing this?” Having a strong vision will remind you. And the stronger it is, the harder it is to deviate from it in a blink of an eye.
- Have Strategy / Vision Meetings. Take time out of your insane schedule to meet with your other founders and team members to look at the big picture. It’s a good time to re-align and re-adjust goals without radically changing them on-the-fly. At Standout Jobs we haven’t succeeded at doing this a lot – especially with the team – but it’s something that I do think is important.
- Make Small Adjustments Before Big Ones. The path of least resistance is probably a good one to take. You don’t want to get out of the gate, launch your startup, and five nanoseconds later change everything up. Try and make small adjustments – fine tune things – and see how it goes from there.
- Stay Analytical & Objective. Having a strong mission is great, but if you’re too focused on it and unable to see problems and make changes you’ll be in trouble. So stay analytical and objective. Measure as much as you can. Don’t make changes blindly.
- Keep Your Options Open. Options are always good. So any strategy or change in strategy that reduces options is risky. If you can make small changes to your vision and increase your options, then you’re heading in the right direction.
Do Change Right
You can’t be afraid of change. Change is inevitable. And not just itty bitty change…but massive change. Most people will tell you that your company will look completely different and be selling something completely different (in a completely different way) from the time you start the business to the moment you end it. So you have to expect huge amounts of change and colossal shifts in strategy and vision.
But the risk lies in losing sight of your original intentions because you’re too bogged down in the day-to-day. When that happens, it becomes too easy to make big, strategic mistakes. It becomes too easy to change things for the sake of changing, or run down a path that looks good at that very moment, only to realize it wasn’t the right way to go.
So how do you keep focused on the 20,000 strategic view when most of your time is spent on day-to-day issues?