Petri KajanderAdvisor. Entrepreneur. Chairman as a Service

Two decades of growth companies. Co-founder of OptoGaN and Libera Foundation. Strategy, funding, biz dev. Hands-on and results driven.

Recent Answers

Some time ago I run into a blogger who keeps track of his results by publishing his progress in public. He stated his objectives for everyone to see, and then he just started to report the results.

He was brutally honest and open about the numbers but yet he concealed his identity and withdraw details that could identify him.

A less public way would be to commit yourself to goals in different levels. Something you can reach in a short period of time and some bigger ones (e.g. quarterly, yearly).

Make it a positive experience and reward yourself when you reach the milestones. It's not so much about the rewards per se but the positive feeling of accomplishment.

After all, it's more about the journey than the actual results that most likely bring the most satisfaction.

Do you have an idea where's the problem?

- are your offerings outdated / outpriced / inferior / replaced by something else?
- is the market saturated?
- have your company lost the focus and drive?
- did something happen to your service level?
- or is it the personnel or sales?

Usually talking with your existing and lost customers is a good starting point. They should give you some pointers.

If you don't have any valid hypothesis of the cause I would start from there: find someone who's good at asking the right questions.

If you have a special problem area then someone who has been through the same or has extensive experience of the field may be able to help you.

Besides consultants, you could try to find a peer in the same field, recently retired executive etc. Often, it's easier for an outsider to ask the right questions and see the obvious that has been in the plain sight all the time but difficult to see while in the middle of all the action.

There are already great answers for this question so I'm brief.

A friend of my John Chisholm wrote a book about your exact problem. He has developed a 10-step approach based on his own experience as a serial entrepreneur. Very easy to read book with concrete and actionable advice:

I would start by consider the following:

- What are your goals for the US expansion (revenue, profit, market share wise)?
- How much your expansion plan requires funding?
- How much you’re willing to dilute your existing ownership?

Usually, I prefer to start from the actual business case and ignore the financing for a while. This way you will focus on the actual business needs, its potential, requirements and limitations.

When you know what you want and it makes financial sense then it’s time to consider how you fund it. Sometimes it’s possible to break the financing needs in instalments, do smart partnership / distribution deals etc. and this way the actual capital required may vary a lot.

Do you have beta customers? If so, why are they using your product? What are the key benefits, why they prefer your solution over others? What’s the value you provide to your customers that makes your product superior to existing solutions?

Story telling is a very powerful way of getting a message across. I would start by convincing first why you’re doing your product (why there’s a need for it) and then explaining how it’s better than others (the value).

Next, if you can explain that there’s a big enough market for the product and it’s achievable (e.g. Peter Thiel have some excellent points in his book Zero to One about tackling the smallest possible market first and becoming the dominant player).

Then you still need to convince that it’s your team that can pull this off. And naturally you have to share your execution plan how you’re going to do this in practise.

If you can convince your audience that you can make this to happen and you know what you’re doing (+ they buy your plan) the actual numbers are less important at this point. No one can expect you to come up with exact ways or data when you’re not at that point yet.

Still, you need to have your facts, projections, guestimates and data to back you up but they are just that. Support material at this point. The main task is to sell your overall story and why it’s relevant.

Most of the decisions are made by emotions (hence the story-telling), and facts are there to rationalise the decision. Good stories sell, especially when the business case underneath is brilliant and solid.

Have you tried to find out why your team has become stagnant?

Are the current tasks outside of your team’s expertise and experience? In that case, it might help to get outside help. You could consider getting someone helping the team temporarily as an interim or consultant, or recruit people with the required skills. This way your team could get knowledge transfer and know-how in the process.

Outsourcing the entire project may sound like an easy way out but it has its downsides, too. If your need is a one-time thing then this does not matter too much. Yet, it’s important to know what to buy and how in order to achieve the desired results.

I would also consider how crucial / critical (i.e. strategic) the tasks are for your business. Are they at the core of your value creation and benefits that your customers appreciate? By outsourcing you will lose much of the (quality) control and also the continuous learning process. Also, it’s harder to pick up weak signals from your partners.

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