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After the light bulb flashes an epiphany about a new product, service, or solution the next step for me is invariably a stream of consciousness document that captures ideas as they enter my consciousness.

These are normally led by the beauty of the business model and why it would work in today’s economy. There are various frameworks that I rely upon,

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2013 Is No Time For Strategy

February 21, 2013

Investment Conference Investment Conference (Photo credit: Salmaan Taseer)

Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face – Mike Tyson

One of the tweets I received in January declared 2013 is “The Year of Doing”. I am just coming around to fully appreciating what that means.  We are in the midst of a trend of epic proportions toward execution over deliberation. This shift is very evident in strategic planning, project development, and capital investment.  As someone who has presided over many strategic planning processes, I am not sure I completely buy into this, but the trend is unmistakeable.

Traditionally, you could think of management as the planners, the doers, and the counters. The lines have blurred over time, but the planners’ specialty was targeting the hogs, while we all know the doers brought in the bacon. Until the recent past, in order for a venture capitalist or corporate leader to invest in an initiative, you had to build a pretty bulletproof, strategic business case.  It was expected that you would have done significant expansive research, pushed all of that data through a number of trusted strategic frameworks, come up with a shortlist of alternatives, and used logic and communication skills to prove the optimal business case to achieve corporate goals.  That understates a managed strategic planning effort that took months to create, enlisted diverse opinions, and required more months to diligence and gain approvals prior to any implementation.

Little to none of that strategic planning process appears to matter anymore. As the eminent thought leaders at the failed WebVan would attest*, regardless of your strategic planning proficiency, only hindsight is 20-20.

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A quick note to articulate the importance of Branding as a separate link to Business on my blog. The cycle times for tech discovery and advancement are ever shortening.  Someone needs to come up with a Moore’s Law* for new offerings. Regardless of barriers like IP protection and network effects, the current state of open systems, usability design, process management, inexpensive global collaboration platforms, et al makes the potential for domestic and international copycats to rapidly deliver similar offerings to commercially successful ‘pioneers’ more and more likely.  In case you had not heard, copycats are longhaired nasty felines and pioneers are often the ones that end up with the arrows in their backs.

How can you, as a pioneer, compete with a newcomer that benefits not only from your lessons learned, but from the ability to possibly raise more money than yourself on the basis of the business model that your team has already proven is commercially viable?  Whether B2C, B2B, or B2G, one good answer is Branding.  It’s true that the best brands are built over substantial time, but there are things that start-ups can do to ensure the marketplace and investors understand that being first can mean that your team, your company and your offerings are better than followers’. Branding is becoming an increasingly important part of any start-up’s survival, and should not be overlooked by small entrepreneurial teams focused on going to market with MVP’s** and achieving market validation.

While I am not a Brand Manager, my instincts on branding have been validated. Future posts will elaborate.

*Moore’s Law is a widely held rule of thumb that integrated circuits double in performance every 18 months.

**MVP refers to Minimum Viable Product, i.e., the concept that to be the best pioneer one must go to market with an imperfect but viable product in order to gain market share and lessons learned as the “perfect product” is developed.