Why you need strategic focus as a start-up

September 22, 2013


In my capacity as Business Mentor with Kaleidoscope Consulting, I once in a while get the question: “Why is strategic focus so important for new organizations?”. The people who start up their own businesses or community organizations are already entrepreneurial in spirit. As such, they work hard on their product, design and execute pilot programs and create and promote marketing campaigns. It is something I continue to be impressed with.

These products, programs and campaigns are elements of an essential strategy. The strategy ensures the product is compelling, campaigns are targeted to the right market, and more. This article will help budding entrepreneurs and CEOs that have kick-started organizations see their products and sales techniques in the bigger competitive picture.

Create a compelling product or program

That’s a given, right? Think again. Many great products fail to be compelling not because they lack quality but because they do not fill a need. If you are a community organization you need a convincing program that serves a need that has been identified in the community.

To get noticed, you want to create your product or service based on more than “adequate” evidence, since you have limited resources and strong competition. Don’t be afraid to stand out!

Have a product or program / market fit

Ask the people around you for feedback about your product or program. Dig deep to find out the value your community program provides. Learn who is willing to come to the program and benefit. Realize the best location(s) to convince people your program is the best suited to them.

The same goes for small businesses that have a new product – find out how much people are willing to pay for your product and in which type of store they expect to find and buy your product. Don’t be afraid to go outside your circle of acquaintances to learn more about the specific need you are trying to serve.

In short, find out the why. Why is it timesaving? Why is the program better developed than others? What are the alternatives?

When you know your value, you can define your company’s strategy. A strategy helps your organization getting the most out of your initial product or service. Examples include a reputable name, a steady stream of income, and support for the community as you planned it. You should also make sure you’re not becoming forgotten “shelf ware”, but a household name in specific niche circles.

Find the right business model

Dummies.com states the business model is the “essential core of what you do and how you do it”. I have listed a few common examples, but it is important to know that there is no “ultimate model”. Organizations mix and match until they find the unique blend that works for them.

  • Add-on or freemium model: The central product has a competitive price (or is for free), and extra add-ons drive up the price. Examples: airlines and social media.
  • Direct sales model: Selling directly to the customers. Examples are bakeries and bookstores.
  • Distributor model: Buy or make products or services and sell them to customers via intermediaries. Examples include supermarkets and department stores.
  • Franchise model: Buy into an existing business model, such as McDonalds or gym clubs.


The consequence of having strategic focus is a compelling product or program of great value to your clients. And because it is being implemented through the right business model, it will be profitable even when you have limited resources.

It is important to recognize that the service or product you provide needs a marketing campaign strategy. This strategy positions your organization as the go-to place in today’s competitive market.

Guidelines to keep focus

It can be perplexing to make everyday decisions keeping your long-term strategy in mind. A few guidelines to keep yourself and others in focus are:

Communicate your strategic focus until your voice is hoarse. Remember that potential partner organizations, target customers and potential investors may not instantly recall or understand your larger goal.

Make concrete plans. Plans should be easy to comprehend and not be over-planned. At the end of the day, every plan needs specific goals and must be clearly linked to your strategy.

Be good at the things you need to be good at. Prioritize on a daily basis what you need to focus on. Recognize distractions and get rid of them. Link your day’s goals to the strategy and be clear to yourself and others what you are best at.

How do you keep daily focus?

My friends call me the “list writer” because at the end of the working day I list what has the most priority the next day. This helps me to start a fresh day with a clear mind. Please share what tools or tricks you do to keep you focused. I would love to learn more ways to avoid distractions!


Lisette Andreyko

Lisette is the founder of Kaleidoscope and is passionate about start-up leadership, personal growth and women in business (and psst.. about tea!). She enjoys connecting with small businesses through her network. You can find her on LinkedIn.