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Looking for an endpoint

What’s the biggest problem right now? It’s fear. Fear has spread around the globe, just like the coronavirus itself. Fear is infecting everyone. It has infected businesses too. Why are we fearful and anxious? The simple answer is because we do not know when this will end. A month of the current stasis is serious. Half a year, and we are all into entirely new and unknown territory. So we are most fearful because we do not know when this crisis will end. We have no endpoint.

Here’s a picture for you: We have all been forced to jump out of an airplane in mid-flight. It seems to be in danger of crashing. Maybe it’s night time and we can’t see how far it is to the ground. Some people have parachutes, others don’t. We’re shouting out to each other, asking who has a parachute? Can you help? And if we do get help, will we land on the ground, or in the ocean? How far will we have to swim if that happens? Yes, it’s a scary picture, and...

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Serious About Success, Part 1

Art or science?

In this first of a two-part article, I want to begin by asking ‘Is success an art, or a science? Can it be both an art and a science?’ I ask these questions because I am very serious about success, and spend a lot of time considering what the ingredients of success are, and how I can pass on this knowledge to startups and young entrepreneurs.
To claim that success comes purely from the scientific application of principles is too simplistic, and anyway if there was a one-size-fits-all recipe available, then everyone would be successful. On the other hand, if being successful is more about having the mystical qualities of a ninja, does that mean retreating to a Tibetan monastery for seven years to learn all the secrets?

Well, in fact it’s a combination of these extremes, but what I’m certain of is that the path to success can indeed be learned, and over the years I have refined the points that I think all successful entrepreneurs embody, and...

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Tactical flexibility

marketing startups strategy Jun 07, 2019

Think the unthinkable

I know that this isn’t a very PC quote to start with, but it illustrates a point: “Strategy is buying a bottle of fine wine when you take a lady out for dinner. Tactics is getting her to drink it.” The words of comedy writer Frank Muir, from a rather different age, but it continues neatly from my previous posting about Strategy. Strategy is about winning wars, Tactics is about winning battles, and you can quote me on that.

So what happens when tactics have to be used to deal with situations ‘on the ground’ which either haven’t been planned for, or which are so extreme that they could never have been planned for? Think of something unthinkable like the collapse of the Twin Towers in New York. There was no specific strategy to deal with such a disaster, but amazingly the emergency services used tactics which resulted in many people being brought to safety who would otherwise have died. Robust tactics work. Or to give you another...

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Strategy 101

marketing startups strategy May 28, 2019

Seriously strategic

In my last posting I was talking about that useful phrase, ‘The map is not the territory’ and how it applies to getting a business up and running, particularly during the fundraising phases. It’s one thing to have a plan on paper (or spreadsheet) and quite another thing when it comes to how that plan matches reality. And yet we must have a plan, or a better word is Strategy. If there is a true strategy for a business, then it adds huge strength to the offering. It turns somethings vague into something concrete. But as the strategy specialist Jeroen de Flander says, “You cannot be everything to everyone. If you decide to go north, you cannot go south at the same time.” If that sounds simplistic, believe me, I’ve seen very many businesses trying to go north and south at the same time, with less than optimal results.

So to succeed, a business must have a plan, like a builder must have a plan before commencing work on a house. The...

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