The only way you can become a STRATEGIST is when you stop trying to fit into someone else’s shoes.
I choose to be blunt here because that is the only way I can make my point to all the aspiring or might I say dreaming entrepreneurs. You cannot just follow a well-worn path and hope to get there. You must go your own way, and make your own decisions to carve out that niche space on the map of today’s business world.
Pick up any successful entrepreneur’s example and the one thing you will notice is that they have their own way of doing things. The world today needs someone to break the mold and be different, to make a change.
You may have heard of Zuckerberg and Jobs, but these are just two common examples, and many may think that not everyone has the luck to be born with the DNA of these two.
But you do not need to have such a gene match in order to be successful – what you do need is an out-of-the-box way of thinking and an appetite for taking risks.
Take the example of author and optimist Simon Sinek.
Sinek’s book “Start with Why” is a huge success, and his TED Talk has more than 14 million views on YouTube.
He shared his golden rule – to start every endeavor with the question “Why?” Sinek then converted the write-up into a speech which helped him become a victor in the field. I am sure Sinek too must have thought beyond his predecessor’s business strategies – and that is what made him a world leader.
It is indeed a big deal to become a champion strategist, but for that, one needs to clear the hurdles first. Here are 5 ways to counter the opposition and become a World Champion of Business Strategy:
Understand your Strengths
The first and foremost is to identify your strengths and to understand what you are good at. This is not that difficult. Your strengths may look feeble to you in the beginning but trust me, that is not the case. The idea is to find out what drives you. Once you know that, you can begin maximizing that potential.
Take the example of the world’s chess champion Garry Kasparov. He took up the game of chess when he was just three years old, won his first tournament at the age of 13, and became a grandmaster by 1986.
Chess is a game of psychological advantage. The player must outmaneuver his opponent and Garry developed this skill very early on.
Business strategy uses the same skills. The idea is to outmaneuver your opponent and start strategizing early. The process sounds complicated, but it is not that hard if you know what you are good at and are realistic about your approach.
Work on your Weaknesses
Understand this – the only hurdle standing between you and your goal is a lack of knowledge. You cannot know everything, but you should understand what your weaknesses are and work on them.
For instance, if you are not good with numbers then hire someone who can handle that aspect for you. Do not ignore any weakness – it will cost you in the end.
Take for example the advertising giant Ogilvy & Mather whose weakness was the old school concept of advertising-making. They were able to overcome this by buying a digital marketing agency and creating new operational models.
Though the amount of success achieved is still somewhat debatable, the approach to accept and start working on the weakness is what I wish to highlight here.
Tailor your Strategy
It is good to follow others, but it is best to custom build your own plans. You are the best judge of the situation and you know your team and customers better than anyone.
It is important to be open-minded, but you should also have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and be ready to make the necessary changes in your planning.
I’d like to give my company MSys Group’s example here. In this time when the world is shut and markets are lying low, we realized the need to come up with a plan to ensure that the company’s operations would not stop.
What tech giants like Google are applying now – the “Hybrid Workweek,” is what MSys was practicing since the beginning of last year. The result is the company’s stability and sustainability, which has attracted many clients for us.
Build an Inclusive Work Culture
It is incredibly important to have an inclusive work culture. It means everyone can grow and learn in a supportive environment that is also action-oriented and goal-driven.
Having an inclusive work culture helps in nurturing new ideas and facilitates work and progress. One very good way to introduce an inclusive work culture is through diversity & inclusion training.
This consists of identifying and overcoming biases, barriers, and inequities that exist within the workplace to create a place where everyone feels comfortable.
I have a lot of regard for the way Deloitte works on inclusive work culture.
In the introduction to their diversity and inclusion training, they mention that “We are committed not only to embracing our differences but also celebrating them. We’re committed to being open-minded, tolerant of different viewpoints, accepting of individuals’ unique qualities or gifts.”
The key point to note here is that inclusive work cultures become the platform for planning and developing innovative business ambitions.
Don’t Be Afraid to say NO
I have often heard the phrase, “yes-person” and I know that this is not a good thing.
Being someone who started as a software engineer working for someone else, I too had to go through the – ‘Whether or not to agree with my boss’ dilemma.
But thankfully I realized early on that I knew my strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. It was a great feeling to have the confidence, knowledge, and the ability to say “No” confidently when faced with an opportunity or request for which I lacked the skillset, in order to not jeopardize myself or be seen as “unprofessional.”
I applied the same experience when it came to first building and then executing business strategies for my own company. I knew my strengths, and acknowledged my weaknesses as well, and that helped me stand my ground in front of the venture capitalists.
And anytime I get stuck or am in a dilemma I just remind myself of one of my favorite quotes:
“Don’t say ‘maybe’ when you want to say NO.”
If you are working on a new project or idea, take the time to identify what makes it unique and how that could impact success in this market space. Once you have identified these points of differentiation, tailor your strategy for each opportunity accordingly so as not to waste resources by trying something that may not work well with the goals of the company.
Finally, do not forget about building inclusiveness into all aspects of your offerings – from product design to customer service representatives and beyond.
The more inclusive we can be when designing our products and services – both internally (within employees) and externally (to customers) – the better off everyone will be.
And finally – KNOW = WHEN TO SAY NO.