” Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. ” – Sun Tzu
Recently, a friend of mine approached me and asked for some help. He had started a supply chain technology company. He wanted me to speak with the team, understand their idea and eventually help a little with their business strategy as well as devise a concise sales approach. I enjoy learning by doing, helping friends and of course new challenges so I agreed to contribute.
Let me tell what happened. I first read most the of the available information about their product, existing processed and business model. Second, I dedicated time to make some fact finding interviews with with Allen and his team. Their technology is aiming to addresses some of the core challenges the energy industry faces when building new facilities. The world of credit letters, bank guarantees, equipment production and shipment is not efficient, costly, complex and unwilling to change. It was an amazing learning experience for me and now for sure I can understand a little better why power plants commissioning is somehow always being delayed. Anyway, the more I talked to the team and the more I learned about their technology and the industry they are operating in, the more I noticed that although they had a comprehensive business plan they lacked a specific business development strategy, concise approach to attract capital as well as they lacked a specific customer with whom they could partner to test their product.
From my interviews, I found that they were working rather chaotically. So the first, thing I proposed was to set up a common working space that each of the team members could access and update the others on his progress without emails. Also, proposed to the team have a business strategy containing five clearly defined pillars. We agreed that each pillar of the strategy would be lead by a dedicated person who had both the right skills and passion matching the pillar objective. The pillar lead was also to be held accountable for the progress at the end of the quarter. For each pillar we worked on establishing SMART goals.
I also proposed to the team to create a one pager document to be used with potential investors. The document outlined the following three things with three points each:
what is the challenge that the product is solving; why their technology and team are adding value and will drive change to the industry; what are the benefits of investing in their company in comparison their industry peers.
Finally, we set up a CRM database so that the team could track, measure, analyse and adjust when necessary their efforts to acquire new customers as well as capital.
Process and structure are key to success in business development as well as customer acquisition. Technology companies need to be set up early with the right tools so they can grow quick enough. Many of great ideas fall apart because of lack of structure, execution and experienced executives who can breach the gap between those. What do you think is the biggest hamper of growth for small companies?