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Good news: It's gonna be great.
But in the absence of a properly-designed strategy to turn those goals and plans into concrete realities, your odds of success are slim, and any success you do achieve will be attributable primarily to luck.
Of course, human nature being what it is, it's doubtful you or anyone else will see that luck clearly until it's far too late.
And by that point, a whole raft of competitors will have caught wind of the value to be had in what you're doing, and will be already launching their attacks.
You may see them coming, but without the right strategy to hold on to what you've got, there will be little you can do to stop them from yanking it from your hands.
And that's all assuming you actually managed to create something worth taking in the first place.
Far more often, teams that start building products and executing "plans" without a well-crafted strategy governing their priorities and guiding their direction end up building themselves straight into a wall, executing themselves right off a cliff, and landing themselves into the large and ever-growing ash heap of failure.
The prevalence of bad strategy is not really any one person's fault.
The conventional wisdom of the post-AWS world seems to have convinced a whole population of very smart people to "just execute and iterate."
While some true successes have emerged this way, the much bigger story is the massive junkyard of failed products, "acqui-hires," fire sales, vaporized investments, and wasted energy and time this mentality has left in its wake.
Unfortunately, achieving simplicity is dramatically harder than it sounds, and what passes for "strategy" these days is often the opposite of clear, insightful, and focused.
The legendary military strategist Carl Von Clausewitz said it quite well:
"The talent of the strategist is to identify the decisive point and to concentrate everything on it, removing forces from secondary fronts and ignoring lesser objectives."
Everywhere you look (tech startups, big tech companies, and throughout most of the business world), you see company founders and leadership teams whose "strategy" boils down to "do all the things" and "be everything for all people."
When I ask them what market they're going after, they will say things like "we're focusing on getting more SaaS companies, game developers, and advertising agencies on our platform."
When I ask who, exactly, their ideal customers are, they'll say something like "our target customers are knowledge workers who want to become better versions of themselves."
And when I ask about their distribution plan, they'll say "we're aggressively pursuing viral acquisition, paid social, content marketing, and SEO."
Of course, "focusing on SaaS companies, game developers, and ad agencies" is the opposite of focusing. "Knowledge workers who want to be better versions of themselves" is such a vague and broad category that it doesn't rise to the level of "target."
And for the record, almost everyone makes plans to grow through viral acquisition, social media, content, and SEO, and only a tiny fraction of them use even a single one of these channels effectively.
And that doesn't even begin to account for the opportunity costs involved.
While the context and details of every one of those stories is utterly unique, a common thread binds them all together.
Yes, these companies were radically different. Their leaders, cultures, and teams were not even remotely the same. Every one of them operated in dramatically different markets, using different technologies and processes to attract different types of customers.
And yet bad strategy is the unacknowledged villain in all of these stories. It is the "meta reason" behind nearly every other reason companies, products, and people fail.
With the The Exponent's Guide, I aim to foster the creation of the world's most detailed, complete, AND accurate handbook of strategies and tactics for navigating the volatilities of life, the market, and everything else that might trip you up when you're pursuing radically ambitious goals.
Existing on the spectrum between a book and a wiki, but significantly more compelling than both, The Exponent's Guide will be a constantly evolving, always-up-to-date guide to developing transformative ideas and products, launching them into the world, protecting them against the countless threats that seek to destroy them as they scale, and nurturing them towards global impact.
While the Exponents organization will "seed" the core content of The Exponent's Guide and the framework for expanding it, the guide itself will be collaboratively and transparently written, edited, and managed and edited handbook of strategy.
And so of course, The Exponent's Guide will be 100% open source, governed by the principles of Jeremy Rifkin's "Collaborative Commons," hosted on a blockchain, and managed by smart contracts and crypto-currency tokens.
(Have no idea what that last sentence means? Fear not! The "Common Sense Guide to Blockchain Technologies and The Collaborative Commons" is on the roadmap and will be available to anyone who signs up for the Guide).
For all of us who have set out to accomplish something amazing, The Exponent's Guide aims to become the first place we turn when we need guidance AND the first place we contribute when we have guidance to share.
But there's a long road to walk before The Exponent's Guide manages to reach that point.
Until then, Exponents, Inc, is here to initiate the journey and light the first steps of the path like Gandalf. We're here to have your back like Sam whenever unexpected, crazy, or just straight up terrifying shit shows up and tries to stop you in your tracks.
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Copyright 2017 by Dan Kaplan