Strategic planning early on is crucial for startups, says tech entrepreneur Hamza Ben Badour.
From my +7 years of business experience and working with countless talented entrepreneurs, engineers, and managers over my career, here is the tale of my top five biggest mistakes I see first-time founders making and how to avoid them. Hamza Ben Badour recently provided insight to help other first-time entrepreneurs make the right changes for longevity. As an entrepreneur, his insights focus on healthy business growth and agility.
Strategic planning is crucial for businesses working to thrive in a post-COVID environment, says Hamza. He encourages companies to use the process to consider the priority of goals and the ways success will be measured but most importantly avoiding these five big mistakes most first-time entrepreneurs make. “Part of the process should include understanding your company’s purpose,” says Hamza. “Knowing the driving motivation of your company is going to help define your strategy and prioritize your goals. This shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.”
These goals need to be actionable as well, he explains. “Without specific OKRs (Objectives & Key Results), you are going to be hard-pressed to make real headway in your strategic planning,” he continues. “Strategies have to have actionable steps put in place, or you run the risk of never actualizing real results. If you have no way to measure success, you have no way to determine how effective your efforts to change have been.”
Hamza Ben Badour also says these goals should be prioritized. “Not all goals are going to have the same kind of impact in your business, and they shouldn’t all hold the same weight,” he says. “Prioritizing your strategic business goals will ensure you put the focus on the areas that need the most attention.” According to Hamza, priority factors might include:
- Market validation
- Company reputation
- Customer satisfaction
- Worker retention
While setting up these strategic goals can be beneficial in the long run, I’d also avoid making these top five mistakes along the way, Badour says, and that includes:
1- being attached to a specific idea; first-time founders have the ability to build upon a vision or an idea, unfortunately being too attached to it makes it hard to accept feedback. In entrepreneurship, there are no sacred cows. Cut your losses and your ego along with it.
2- they navel gazel; they are too afraid of messy beginnings, the unknown parts, so they become frozen in the idea zone/phase, Go to market, validate and move on. Hamza Ben Badour goes on to say.
3- they give up too early; they produce or execute their first idea and expect rainbows and flowers right away. There is no overnight success. It’s a long and rocky road. Keep trying.
4- they don’t give up soon enough; they dump their funding into what can be a losing enterprise, product, or venture. If you’ve blown through your funding in a period of time with no clear path to profitability or market fit, and you are about to raise some more from family and friends, please STOP. Your dignity would be in debt, if not more.
5- they do it for the glamour; Most successful entrepreneurs would tell this; there is no glamour, just the sweat (that can be fun) of being part of that journey if you ever get the chance or privilege to belong to that entrepreneurship lifestyle.
The advice aimed at up-and-coming entrepreneurs includes a cautionary warning; don’t assume success. Hamza says that strategic planning should always be agile and ready to adapt when data shows a different story than the expectations projected.
In a post-COVID world, business owners are looking for some sense of security. Strategic planning can offer some guidance and organization to the operations of a business.
Hamza Ben Badour explains that the goal is to get the entire team on board and on the same page. A company is only as strong as the team that makes up its workforce. Without clear direction, employees and managers won’t have clarity in their direction, and goals will be impossible to achieve. Badour recommends using the team to establish the strategic business goals and making them part of the process to increase their willingness to buy into the plan.
“At the end of the day,” Badour states, “the top priority has to include your team, or you are going to be fighting against the current. Use your team to gain insights and bring a wide variety of opinions to the table. You can make these strategies a reality with strong group planning and insightful goal setting.”