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THE QUESTIONS EVERY ENTREPRENEUR MUST ANSWER

Entrepreneurs are presented with many opportunities and problems, but to be successful in the
long run, they must focus on the issues that matter most—the ones that will move the company
forward, toward the goals of the entrepreneur. The strategic framework Bhide presents helps
does just that. It consists of three steps. The first step clarifies current goals. The second step
evaluates strategies for attaining those goals. Finally, the third step helps the entrepreneurs assess
their own capacity to execute their strategies.

Setting a goal sounds straightforward but shouldn’t be overlooked. For instance, the author
describes how a salaried executive has a fiduciary responsibility—a goal—to maximize
shareholder value, but an entrepreneur is not necessarily bound by that same requirement. There
are many possible goals an entrepreneur may have for a business, including seeking personal
fulfillment, creating a flexible lifestyle, earning a high income, exploring a certain technology or
scientific process, becoming a well-known personality or, of course, changing the world.

Many entrepreneurs say that they are launching their businesses to achieve independence and
control their destiny, but those goals are too vague. If they stop and think about it, most
entrepreneurs can identify goals that are more specific.

The first step in Bhide’s framework is for entrepreneurs to clarify their goals so they know what
they personally want from their business. Once entrepreneurs have determined their goals for the
business, they should ask themselves:

 “What kind of enterprise do I need to build?”


 “What risks and sacrifices does such an enterprise demand?”
 “Can I accept those risks and sacrifices?”

Many entrepreneurs start businesses to seize short-term opportunities without thinking about
long-term strategy. Successful entrepreneurs, however, soon make the transition from a tactical
to a strategic orientation so that they can begin to build crucial capabilities and resources.
After a goal has been determined, the second step is to understand how it can best be obtained. A
sound strategy is more fundamental to success for a fledgling company than just about anything,
including the operational and implementation details that take up so much of an entrepreneur’s
precious time, such as implementing a product feature or defining reporting relationships for a
new hire. A company with a sound strategy can overcome many implementation mistakes but
there is little chance of long term success without a sound strategy in place.

Four tests will help an entrepreneur understand if their strategies are sound:

 “Is the strategy well defined?”


 “Can the strategy generate sufficient profits and growth?”
 “Is the strategy sustainable?”
 “Are my goals for growth too conservative or too aggressive?”

The third question entrepreneurs must ask themselves may be the hardest to answer because it
requires the most candid self- examination: Can I execute the strategy? Great ideas don’t
guarantee great performance.

Ultimately, it’s not enough to have clear goals and sound strategies to achieve them.
Entrepreneurs must execute the strategies. This third step in Bhide’s strategic framework helps
entrepreneurs understand if strategies are right for them—can they execute them effectively. Will
entrepreneurs be able to hire the right people, make the right connections, build the needed
organizational structure, and evolve into the type of leader the company will need in the future?
These can be scary questions: They will reveal mismatches between the entrepreneur’s strengths
and the entrepreneur’s goals and one or the other will have to change

They should ask themselves:

 “Do I have the right resources and relationships?”


 “How strong is the organization?”
 “Can I play my role?”