Startup life: strategy sessions are critical to the success of your business

 

When you are running a startup, you probably feel energised when you cross tasks off your list. It gives you this great feeling of accomplishment. You are getting somewhere and the faster you go, the happier you are. There is no question that “getting things done” is paramount to the success of your venture and your entire team should be good at it. However, you also need time to stop, reflect and strategize to ensure that your startup is not only going in the right direction but also going there the most effective way.

At Schedullo, we are aiming to run strategy sessions every quarter. It does not mean we don’t come up with new ideas in between but once a quarter should be enough to review what you have accomplished as a team, whether you are making headways or not or if anything requires adjustment or rethink.

 

Strategy is for everyone

You should be as inclusive as possible when running your strategy sessions. Inclusiveness and diversity in your team will help you to build better ideas that consider more point of views and uncover the key assumptions that you will need to prove to make those ideas work.

 

Running time

Our strategy session at Schedullo only last 4 hours. Typically, our energy levels are very high for the first 2 to 3 hours and it rapidly decline after 3 hours. Based on this observation, we are running our session like a bell curve: start by opening your brain and tackle one easy subject. When you brain is fully connected, run any ideation session or the difficult discussions. Finally, when your brain is showing signs of fatigue, this is the time to wrap up by allocating actions.

 

More, Less, Stop, Start

One activity that our team really likes is the concept of More, Less, Stop, Start. Each member of the team has 10 minutes of individual thinking time to write down on post-it notes the activities that we need to do more of, less of, stop or start. Following this activity, each participant starts with one item and share it with the group and place it on a matrix with 4 boxes (you would have guesses: More, Less, Stop, Start). If any participant has the same idea, then they go together on the board. This entire exercise should not take more than 30 minutes.

Because, we are an early stage startup, our session covers all topics from product management to marketing to operations. You can easily run a similar session with a focus on one topic. It will allow you and your team to go deeper into each subject.

 

Our goal and how to get there

I hear you. Your goal as a startup is to be the next Atlassian or Facebook. I am sorry to tell you but it is very unlikely to happen. You need to start with a goal that is achievable. When we started Schedullo, we started with a simple goal: how we will we get our first customers.

Providing, your product or service has already been validated (i.e. it works) and that you have also validated your main assumptions (e.g. in our case, small businesses who need to charge their time will pay to use Schedullo as it makes them more effective), you can start defining a strategy and its related action plan.

Personally, I like when a strategy has a long-term vision and objective but an execution plan split into 3 months periods with clear deliverables. It will increase the level of accountability but most importantly, the feeling of getting things done.

There is no right way of wrong way to run strategy sessions. However, we will continue to share some tips and tricks as we also learn along the way