Building a strategy is similar to solving a very complicated problem. The computer science approach to this is break the big problem into smaller ones, but that is not a simple task on it’s own. There are many ways to “break-apart” the strategy question (e.g., marketing strategy, sales strategy, dev strategy, etc.) While those are all valid, I think startup founders would benefit tremendously by first breaking their strategy into 3 time horizons:
Three time horizons for your start-up strategy:
1. Long Term (5+ years) – What is my company’s vision? What impact would I like to make on the world?
2. Medium Term (10-15 months) – What is the story and supporting metrics that I will have when for raising my next round of funding?
3. Short Term (3-6 months) – What are my priorities for next several months?
By first, breaking your strategy into these 3 distinct groups you are able to focus on different questions for each phase before you go into the specifics of each operational domain (e.g., marketing, development, hiring, etc.)
An important note to add is that your answers to these three questions should be fairly aligned with each other, this means that by executing your short terms strategy you will actively be getting closer to your desired medium term story and metrics. Similarly, by reaching your medium term goals you should be moving towards fulfilling your long term vision.
I would strongly recommend you write all 3 goals down on paper and not keep them in you head (feel free to use this template). It’s ok to change your strategy over time but be cognizant about it. Also, writing it down will allow you to share it with people you trust and get feedback. This is critical in order to continue evolving and clarifying your strategy. In fact, I would recommend sharing your Long Term and Medium Term plans with potential investors well before you are actively asking them to invest. They will feel important, provide feedback and be much more open to investing when you come back to them in the future (showing them the results you intended to have.)
Example strategy deck (you can download and use the template here)
Hope I was helpful, share your thought below… (also, if you want to use the above template for your own purposes you can download it here)