Ignoring timelines in startup strategies

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Top 3 reasons why go-to-market strategies fail according to Harvard:

In the last two newsletters, we were talking about why go-to-market strategies fail. And according to Harvard business review, there are three problems that you run into. 

One is not understanding the problem. So, basically you don’t have enough audience information, which means that you should do more customer research before starting a go-to-market strategy.

The second one is creating an unrealistic strategy that the company can’t execute. When we learned that you have to test the strategy against the team, not just against the market. 

And the third one that Harvard Business Review mentions is not understanding the time needed for execution, which is something that we’re going to take a look at today.

No strategy runs on plan

No strategy I have been a part of has ever run on time, on plan. Every strategy takes longer to execute than initially planned. This is because,  one, the way the human brain works. Basically, our mind tends to underestimate the time needed to execute a task, which is why we usually have to-do lists that are too long.

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And this is the same when it comes to strategy. Basically, we overestimate what we can do in a certain period of time, which is why strategies will often be too complicated. Plus obviously something will happen. Someone will fall ill. The design of the materials will take too long.

Whatever it is. Something will happen during the creation of the go-to-market strategy or during the execution, which means that the execution will be longer than we initially thought. And when that happens, the problem is that you can miss your opportunity window, right? Because people’s behavior changes, people have different priorities at different times.

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So, for example, if you plan to launch a new service in June and then launch it in September, it’s going to be difficult to sell because people in September, in mid September, for example, they have their plans made and they’re executing. They’re not thinking about buying new services, right?

The wrong message for the time

Your message is wrong for the timing. For example, with my last startup, we needed to have everything ready by mid September because we knew that, because we were working with kids, people were busy at the end of August and in the beginning of September when school started. But then as soon as the first problems came in, basically mid September, we had to have everything ready.

So, we learned through years that our deadline was actually August 15th not September 15th, because otherwise everything ran long and we weren’t ready for September 15th. And this is especially important if you need to develop your product as part of the strategy, right?

Because, you know how development is. You find a bug that you can’t solve for weeks. Everything could be going smoothly, but then something goes wrong and the development plan falls apart. And then your go-to-market strategy is just useless. So, with experience, you start to take that into consideration because it can be a deciding factor of whether a strategy work or doesn’t work.

But 60 to 90 percent of strategies fail. And one of the main reasons is not understanding how much time it will be needed for the execution. 

And here is a biggie: When you are planning a new initiative, you still need to do the actual work so that your business keeps running smoothly. 

We are already busy

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And we often forget about that. We forget that we are already busy and that the new initiative will take time next to the tasks we are already doing to run the business.

So for example, when we did a strategy for a B2B client and the strategy was based on our sales team calling people who were responding to the emails, we needed to account for the fact that the sales team already has tasks they are doing on a daily basis. So we came up with a prioritization strategy so the team only called people who were considered better leads.

That way we got 80% of the results we would have gotten if we called everyone, but with 20% of the effort and the team was able to keep their focus on their daily tasks as well.

Itโ€™s important to keep these things in mind. If you want to create the perfect go-to-market strategy, I recommend reading this book.

See you in 2024. May your customers love you and understand your product:)

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