An experience I got from first 2 months of 2021 made me look deeper into something I had solved in my companies long time ago, but what might be relevant for new teams and startups. At first I could not give it a name, but today I say – red flags ignore not to, but to take very seriously and fix asap.
- Long vision
Long vision. It sort of sounds boring and unnecessary to touch that topic. Yet my last 2 months taught me to pay close attention to it. My conclusion – stay off from people with short visions, looking for tomorrow’s cash only. Cash is king always, but only if combined with long vision. Mismatching long vision means – no deal and lots of saved resources to be used elsewhere. Long vision ensures there is a consistency in every thought, process, action, plan, communication, decision that the company does. It all leads towards the end-goal which might remain unreachable, but the company still moves towards it. Communicating long vision is the way to align all investors, co-founders, employees, clients, fans to think the same way – to make the impact happen. For sure, it takes little steps and time. But hey – that’s what distinguishes companies from each other.
Strategies define the success or failure of a company. To come up with market dominating strategy is challenging. Even if we knew what it takes – we live in the World of scarcity. There are lots of guys like me, providing strategy development support for companies. And for a good reason. I’ve used mentors and coaches throughout my entire entrepreneurship. I can tell about low income times – I haven’t had sessions with my mentor for too long. So I highly recommend that you have your own dedicated mentor or coach who helps you to stay focused and to aim right, to change direction, to formulate questions you need to address. Don’t get me wrong here – asking for outsider’s view or experience makes a huge difference to your success as a leader and entrepreneur.
Delegating strategies buildup completely to outsiders is yet something to avoid at any cost. What CEO’s have to be masters at creating strategies themselves to achieve long term goals. Asking for help, yes. Making own final calls then, yes.
Planning. You’ve probably heard of various trainings, like time management, project management, etc. In short – planning is a tool to communicate and mitigate risks. What has got less attention is the fact that planning is also a super easy-to-use tool to communicate & check what people are doing, are interests aligned, what’s the time frame, etc. It’s common knowledge that if you have a plan, you can achieve your goal, you can measure your success, you can update the plan, you are able to communicate if something does not going as planned – you have shared knowledge exchange.
What you didn’t know is that out there there are some startup founders who “plan” to execute companies without a plan. As the company is just like a big-big and very complex project then the easiest way is to use project management principles and to have a plan – how to execute the company. Vision & strategies describe decisions in a form of tasks and goals to be achieved in time and other resources given.
Values define who we are, how we think and interact once we have a choice to make. Different back-rounds, maturity levels, environments, education, etc have a tremendous effect on how values have developed in any personality. Having values aligned, communicated and followed in a company makes a feeling that you are able to sense. Until values are not defined, communicated, monitored and updated – it’s a mix of various signals and quality, to investors, co-founders, employees, clients. And what mixed messages mean? Collision of values generate problems in relationships among co-founders, investors, employees and clients which leads to various losses for granted. Loss of speed, cost, results, goals, efficiency, everything. Even hiring process goes smoother for all parties once values are communicated. So do your homework, fix that by yesterday.
Ethics (moral codex) defines the greatness in people and leaders among us. In short – it’s the right decision over wrong one, because the cause is bigger that short-term personal gain. Especially we notice it during rough times when tough decisions are to be made. Some people have ethics, some just don’t and they might not even understand where the problem lies. When everything is great, there’s no need to make sacrifices, interact with enemies, take in losses, etc. Yet sometimes it’s just the right order of actions that follow the strategy. Wrong order might mean distrust and problems. Right order grows admiration and support, even if the problem/solution is the same. Obviously, it’s positioning, it’s a strategy, messaging, all been carried out in proper way at the right time. It’s communicating and discussing alternatives, finding best possible ways together to solve complex contexts that concerns all parties. Yet it’s never going behind backs. The collision happens though when different levels of ethics collide.
Communication sucks (pardon my french) at so many levels these days. Looking at what presidents and governments are doing and how covid pandemic is been communicated, uuhhhh. No wonder we neglect this achieving tool at work as well. Yet we are in peoples’ business, so that’s the most important tool we’ve got. Clear communication starts from the vision and plan. Not having one means disaster, bigger or smaller.
Other aspect is courage that some leaders lack of. Again, governments are great example. Some presidents have it perhaps even too much, more than facts can bare…
Vision & strategy give you planned actions in a form of messages to specific audiences at a right timing. Some decisions are to be communicated prior taking any action. Some expect action before any communication. Failing at understanding it or lacking the courage to make a decision or communicate it might be fatal to a company. I’m not calling it an easy job for everyone. Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, it expects certain level of courage and responsibility.