Five key business lessons that could serve to help entrepreneurs and other innovators as they look to the coming decade:
1. Look for disruptive change. As you are about to start a new venture, ask yourself these questions: What is becoming possible or necessary that wasn’t possible before? Is a new product or service able to take over an existing market or create a new market? When I co-founded LinkedIn in 2003, the tech industry was in a deep depression. I looked at all the opportunities created by the Internet and had the idea that eventually everyone would need a professional profile online. This profile would enable them to connect with similar professionals and share news, tips and other information. The development of online professional profiles that people could create and control themselves led to an enormous, disruptive change in the recruiting industry. It provided a way for people to directly reach the best candidates rather than hoping for responses from a listing in the paper.
2. Aim big. Regardless of whether a start-up is targeting a big idea or small one, it will still require the same amount of blood, sweat and tears — so aim big! What is big? It is a new product or service that creates or dominates a significant market. If the market is small or your product is only a marginal improvement over what is already available, you will be taking the same risks but for a much smaller potential gain. I am on the board of a company called Shopkick, which aims to revolutionize retail shopping through a mobile application and incentive program that will enable retailers to attract new and more frequent shoppers. Shopkick founder Cyriac Roeding didn’t think small. He is targeting ALL retail shopping.
… are absolutely two different things. I was talking with one of my client senior managers with the widest span of responsibility yesterday.
They’re coping with a lot of the things that leaders have to. I started to explain things in terms of suspending a balance between the following areas of accountability as a leader and manager:
1. Being involved in the detail (normally on an urgent/ important basis) sufficient to be able to make an informed decision when called on to do so
2. Maintaining progress on the list of important value-add or change areas that will step change the company’s performance and future success (inc. strategy)
3. Monitoring and maintaining the systems of control over process as well as managing, mentoring and coaching people to be able to run the company tactically and operationally
I realised that the big challenge in this is that you can mentally allocate the focus to areas two and three; area one normally drags you in without your planning. Arguably, area three. is easier to plan for in terms of operational review meetings, 121s, performance reviews and coaching sessions.
But that’s all about the conscious intent as opposed to the reality.