December 18, 2014

Start at The End to Start Your Best Business Strategy

business strategyIf your business is like those that author David Lavinsky (@davelavinsky) describes in Start At The End: How Companies Can Grow Bigger and Faster by Reversing Their Business Plan, rest easy. According to Lavinsky, not only are you not alone, but there is an answer to your daily drudgery.

Lavinsky is co-founder of Growthink, a consultancy that helps entrepreneurs and business owners identify and develop new strategies for growth. A serial entrepreneur, Dave has made a solid career at reengineering business plans and fund raising strategies.

And reengineering is what this book is about. I discovered the book while reviewing a site post about reengineering a business. His concept – to think about your last day in business, be it a sale, an IPO, or having children inherit the company – intrigued me. So many business owners dream of the beginning and seldom consider a business exit.

Lavinsky wastes no time getting to the core thoughts in each chapter. Some with intriguing names like How to Out Market Your Market Worksheets to download to their site, meant to provide new layered viewpoints to tactics as you read along. For example, Lavinsky encourages a planning list broken into 7 day, 60 day, and next year tasks.

The first chapter notes that the end of your business encourages a vision from the customer perspective and a vision from a business perspective. He gives some notable examples. He starts with a great note for those who try to attain investment while starting a business:

“However, your goal should be to achieve financial success even without investors. After all, a business can’t achieve its customer-focused vision if it goes out of business. It can’t serve its employees or fulfill the personal desires that prompted the start or purchase of a business.

Because of this, you need to create your business-focused vision statement to show:

1. The endgame you’d like to achieve.

2. The financial metrics and business assets you need to achieve and build to realize that endgame.”

This reminds me of those entrepreneurs seeking Kickstarter-based help as well as those with Wall Street dreams that their business model needs to be viable. The material is lighter compared to strategy books such as Data Driven Marketing.  But Lavinsky does make points that reinforce good business building ideas and techniques without always saying it. His quote noted a business model without using the actual phrase “business model.”

Now, you can make an argument that the value of the quote is relative to whether the reader read other books. True enough.  But this is a workbook and good business people are always reading to refine their outlook.  So as a workbook guide, it does deliver well to compliment other strategic books like Islands of Profit In a Sea of Red Ink.

Other chapters of note include:

  • Financial Metrics: knowing what metrics best guide you to your stated vision.
  • Systemizing Your Business: which may be the most useful and can compliment a more technical guide – outlines how to formalize a plan for supporting your product or providing your services.
  • How to Out Market Your Market: touched upon more metrics, some familiar to analytics practitioners such as conversion rate.

I appreciated the metrics mention in the book.  You may have to adjust the suggestions to fit your own business and may have to dig a bit deeper to learn how to manage those metrics later on  (i.e. maintaining a dashboard). But Lavinsky’s inclusion through the chapters drives home the point that metrics can connect your idea to how well it’s executed.

Give this book a try if you are truly dedicated to your business beyond the profit and loss sheet.  The book’s material will work for startups and can be a refresher for those whose business has come along, but not far enough. When it comes to working reviews for small business, Start At The End is indeed the perfect place to start.

9 Comments ▼

Pierre DeBois - Associate Book Editor


Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

9 Reactions

  1. You hit the nail on the head, Pierre. The exit strategy is much more important than people think. I tell my friends to start with the exit strategy when forming their business. This gives them a clear goal or destination to properly form the business plan projections.

  2. I feel the need to get the book ASAP and read. “Start with the end in mind” remains my favorite habit of highly effective people.

  3. Pierre,

    This review is fantastic. You absolutely helped explain the importance of starting at the end for sustainable small business success :)

    Even if business owners have zero intention of selling their companies, one day they might want to leave the business to their children or family members. As a business owner, I would never want to leave the ones I love with anything but my best.

    Thank you for breaking down the book! A must have.

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