Running a successful venture from discovery to scaling is an art that requires being constantly responsive to external changes and new insights, as well as staying proactive to be prepared for many parallel future scenarios. For this reason it is impossible to give a very exact recipe for success. But isn’t that the case with all interesting challenges?
However, from our experiences we have been able to extract 3 different elements that you need to get right throughout each of the four phases of venture building, no matter what kind of venture you are building. If one or more of these three are missing the venture’s chances of success are seriously threatened.
These elements are Team, Mindset and Focus.
The right dedicated minimum team
This element is actually 3 in one. The right team, means the right combination of skills for the particular venture and phase. A dedicated team, means team members that dedicate almost all their time on the venture, as well dedicated as “in it with all of their hearts”. A minimum team, means just the team members needed in order to get the job done. It might seem like extra team members would add to team efficiency, but most of the time the effect is the opposite as it causes unclarity and lack of accountability.
An experimentative mindset
Building a new venture is a highly explorative process with focus on building new insights more than anything else. This requires a very specific mindset among the team members, a combination of curiosity, flexibility and action orientation.
In order to be able to take in new learnings that may be contrary to initial beliefs, a mindset of curiosity and willingness to be proven wrong is crucial.
The team members also need to have a very action oriented mindset, in order to move forward quickly and work in an efficient build-measure-learn cycle. On top of this, the mindset needs to be very flexible, as sudden changes of direction are likely to happen regularly based on new insights.
This curious, flexible yet action oriented mindset is often found in entrepreneurs and can be a key challenge to establish in a corporate innovation team as it is not particularly suitable within the established cultures within corporations that are focused on optimizing the core business rather than discovering new opportunities.
A broad ambition but a narrow focus
Having a great vision for all that your venture will achieve is vital for reaching innovative height. Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land among the stars, as the quote goes. But when it comes to creating successful new ventures, the trick is to balance that ambitious vision with a very narrow focus. You know where you want to go, but in order to move forward you need to be able to pick out a tiny piece of the full value that you aim to create, and leave everything else aside. A classic mistake is trying to realize too many parts of the vision at the same time, creating an MVP that attempts to do way too many things, and ends up not delivering value at all because of it.