innovation strategy Aug 30, 2022

Hot on the heels of a recent hybrid presentation last week to sixty or so startups at Brisbane’s Innovation Hub, I was invited back to speak to forty scale-ups this week.

I shared that scaling is an elusive and dangerous pursuit. During my hour-long keynote, I shared that in my thirty-five years as an early-stage investor, strategic adviser and business educator, I have gained powerful insights from businesses and organisations around the globe. I have met with and listened to some of the most successful founders and CEOs and some of the least successful. This accumulated wisdom allows me to share the strategies I believe every leader must cultivate to excel in business.

Regarding scale-up, I shared the six-step strategic mindset process from my best-selling book, The Strategy Book. At each of the six steps, Sense, See, Connect, Plan, Focus and Move, I interposed ten must include activities to scale successfully.


I. Where you play matters - some industries are more profitable.

II. Get the right people on the bus - it is hard to fly like an eagle if you run with turkeys!


III. Have a crystal clear mission statement - if you don’t have a clear direction, any direction will do!


IV. People issues are the hardest to get right - do this well or pay someone suitable to handle your growing team.


V. Don’t list on the stock exchange unless you have to - where possible, finance your independence and choose an ownership structure that gives you the level of financial control you need.

VI. Small can be beautiful - your health, family and grandchildren may thank you for not scaling and playing smaller.


VII. Build your values into your brand - it will be easier to hire the right people, retain customers and attract ongoing rounds of venture capital.

VIII. Align value chain activities with your strategy and mission.

IX. Don’t get stuck in the middle - make sure you choose a narrow competitive scope or a broad one but not both. In existing markets, it is hard to differentiate and be low-cost successfully - once again, choose your advantage carefully. Of course, if you are in an uncontested market, differentiate and be low-cost to create a blue ocean.


X. Leaders with a flywheel find a way - if you don’t know what a business flywheel is, find out. Few scale-ups succeed without one.


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