Good Strategy Goes Unnoticed, But Bad Strategy Goes Under

Sinking Boat


Another thing I like about small business and entrepreneurship is that you live the strategy without the elaborate frameworks and detailed analysis. As companies get bigger, strategy gets harder.  It’s much more likely to take teams of experts tons of detail work.Big companies are like big ships. They change course slowly. There are lots of moving parts involved.

For you and me and small business in general, strategy is always happening, whether you like it or not. And if you screw it up, changing it too frequently, failing to focus, trying to do everything, then it hurts.

Strategy for us? It’s really about focus. You can’t do everything, so you do the right thing.

  • You can’t please everybody, so you select who you please based on common sense, your strengths and your weaknesses, and how you’re different.
  • You can’t sell everything, so you sell what you’re really good at, what makes you appealingly different, and what sets you apart.
  • You can’t do everything so you do what’s most important, what gives you the most benefit per unit of resources, what aligns you best with your target market and your focused business offering.

Here’s a quick test: do a SWOT analysis. List your strengths, your weaknesses, your opportunities, and threats. Then think about your strategy. Does it pass the SWOT test, or not? Does SWOT bring up something you’re doing wrong?

And another quick test: the principal of displacement, which means everything you do rules out something else that you won’t do. Think about it: are you doing the right things? Or are you trying to do everything?

And finally, a third quick test: do you ever say no to anything? When? Why not?

Tim Berry is president and founder of Palo Alto Software, founder of, and a co-founder of Borland International.  This post was originally published on his blog, Planning Startups Stories, and is republished here with permission.

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