I was working with Thomas, a successful owner of a mobile bottling company in California. The topic of our conversation was how to best determine the winning strategy to scale his company. He was in a capital intensive business with lots of labor requirements and tight margins. Yet he had some real strengths and business assets that he wanted to leverage.
Here are the bottom-line questions I shared with him to help him figure out the best way forward to scale his company.
1. What is the criteria a successful strategy would have to satisfy?
2. What are possible strategies that you could choose that would likely meet all or most of the above criteria? Brainstorm out a list of all the potential choices you have.
3. Which of the potential strategies seems best suited to give you what you want while relying primarily on your current strengths?
4. In order for this strategy to be successful, what assumptions would have to prove true?
5. How could you measure or observe this strategy in action to see if it is in fact working? In other words, what should you pay attention to that would give you objective data about whether your assumptions about the strategy are true and if it is in fact working?
6. At what point should you stop running with your strategy and choose another? In other words, what is the stop loss point you are building in that says you've reached your threshold for investing in testing out this strategy and you won't take it any further?
7. If you should hit that stop loss point, what is your roll back plan? Another way of asking this question is what is your plan B and even Plan C to handle the contingency of your chosen strategy not working?
The whole idea of this process is to help you intelligently iterate your business strategy until you find the right formula that works, at which point you feed that strategy with focused energy and enjoy the ride up the scaling curve.
In case you're wondering what happened to Thomas, over the past 3 years he's grown his company roughly 100 percent. He's since used these same questions to map out his growth strategy to grow another 200 percent more over the next 3 years.
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