By Gunjan Sinha, and Executive Chairman,
If we look back at the history of startups, over the last few decades, the focus was on driving startup performance and outcomes: VC’s in many cases look for moon or bust, and entrepreneurs have driven their startup ideas at an unsustainable pace only to discover that the idea got killed, before one gathered critical mass. How does that happen? Speed Kills – sometimes. It’s like building a high performance sports car, but accidentally we forgot over the last 20-30 years to invest in building a good set of brakes and controls. No startup, irrespective of large or small, can sustain without understanding its own controls and boundaries. .
RISE to the Occasion
Today, an entrepreneur can create a strong competitive advantage by making the organization high performance enterprise and build resilience into business operations. A true opportunity to rise to performance is all about driving it in a sustainable way. This framework can be elegantly captured with a simple acronym: RISE—the process of synthesizing your vision. A proper vision of four pillars: Research, Intelligence, Strategy and Execution.
R is for Research
To pursue a cause, one must develop a positive vision and to harvest it into reality requires excellence in research. To build competency in research an entrepreneur needs to have an overview of the market and universal startup trends—what others have been doing, trying, and experimenting with. The research gathers in a titanic amount of data which can be from all sorts of sources – news, media, websites, industry events, networking with industry colleagues.
Building competency in research is to rise in performance, resulting in outcome and success. For example, I am positive, UBER an American transport company, did not think that they would disrupt the taxi industry but, they spent an inordinate amount of time researching and understanding the market which would have landed them the opportunity to create something for high end limo market, and later created, UberX, a taxi service out of it, leveraging the power of just an app.
Research is where you think through the main plan before you jump into something.
I is for Intelligence
Our job as entrepreneurs is to rise above the cloud and identify what specifically will matter in the business world ahead. What kind of products will sell? What markets will now matter more than others? What kinds of customers are more likely to buy? How do I adapt my business plan or organization so that it is better aligned to the world ahead? I urge all entrepreneurs to introspect and reinvent themselves at this time.
A thorough research unlocks intelligence which satisfies the ‘need of the crowd’ or soon to be. May be, instead of following the same old route of mobile application we can choose a different path like health care. For example, There is a surging need to solve the problems of elderly people in hospitals and this can be a perfect start. And how do you get to know? By a rigorous Research, which envisions the need of the hour, unseen and unheard by many. You have to charter your own course. It is fine to gather intelligence from the crowd, but, you must pull off a gameplan that is your very own and unique!
S is for Strategy
Strategy helps all of us to compete. How do we frame the right strategy around Performance and Risks around your vision? How much performance is good enough as you are getting started – should you try to go for the moon, or should you try to build a steady growth trajectory? What should be your risk appetite as we look at your venture – and what is your mitigation plans? Counter to popular belief, successful entrepreneurs hate taking risks, rather they are focused on successfully mitigating risks. What are the business model risks, market risks, competitive risks, financial risks that we should worry about or not? Rather than setting unrealistic performance goals, we should set challenging goals and work hard in reducing the risks in pursuing those goals. Modern startups understand how to take risks and drive innovation while keeping their customers in mind.
As an entrepreneur, your strategy should attempt to disrupt business models, rather than just build products or services. Apple Watch is a perfect example. How many of you own or will own an Apple watch? – Whether there’s mass adoption of the technology is a different issue. But, I’m sure we can all agree that Apple is committed to bringing strong design innovation as well as strong ecosystem of partners to transform a 500 year old watch industry. This is exciting. Modern businesses like Apple are disrupting business models, going beyond building good products and delivering services. That is what entrepreneurs must think about, as they define and refine their strategies.
Leaders and great product strategists are maniacal about consumer experience, and understand the value of paying attention to every aspect of their customer need. The verbal needs, the non-verbal needs, the obvious needs, the subtle needs.
Great products are outcomes of great details and an incessant desire to imagine and fulfill the entire “360 degree” need of one’s customers.
E is for Execution
We have to get better at iterative execution to bring business process and people together by driving actionable insights. Leaders know how to create a powerful framework for execution. I feel that it is as much as a trained science. But how do you turn this thing into science? How you can drive this? Successful entrepreneurs do not come up with the idea upfront, they keep executing and when one doesn’t work they try something else.
The e-commerce boom in India is the result of a smart strategy properly executed by Flipkart. As the introduction of credit card payment was too early in the Indian market, Flipkart introduced a new strategy of cash on delivery. They did not come up with the idea upfront, they just kept executing and when one thing didn’t work they tried something else.
Not a Big Ship but an Army of Small Boats
When you have to execute, be nimble and be like a startup. Even if you raise 100 million dollars, you don’t need to be a ‘big company’, you don’t need to become a big ship, and you ought to be tens or hundreds of small boats going to the promised land of success. Being a small team of accountable and driven employees helps stay focused on key initiatives like products, customers, or challenges to seize opportunities or to solve problems.
Many times, entrepreneurs just jump into the vision and start executing and hit a wall. Their business does not scale, does not attract capital because their research – intelligence – strategy and execution is not deep enough. It is less about your initial IDEA, it is more about how you learn to RISE to deliver true performance and outcomes!