This microbook is a summary/original review based on the book: Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy
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Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? Or are you already working as a CEO and struggling with the burden of leadership? Whichever situation you are in, you will definitely benefit from learning to think five moves ahead. Successful people in business always keep an eye on the bigger picture. So get ready to learn how to develop excellent leadership qualities!
Aspiring entrepreneurs and chess players have a lot in common. Think about Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian chess prodigy - he became a grand master at the age of 13 thanks to his ability to think as many as 15 moves ahead.
Good CEOs also know how to think several moves ahead. In the heat of battle, they stay calm just like chess players do. And just like aspiring chess players, entrepreneurs and CEOs will often experience a feeling of isolation on their way to the top.
Most people fail to think more than one or two moves ahead. But a successful CEO always sees the big picture: She is able to think five moves ahead. As the author Patrick Bet-David puts it: “Effective strategy is about making a move and being prepared to launch another series of moves based on how the market or your competition reacts.”
Thinking further ahead allows you to distinguish between the easier and more effective choice. Of course you might be wondering why you should only think five moves ahead. Even though you might want to plan the next 15 moves in advance, focusing on only five will allow you to anticipate future outcomes and base your moves and countermoves on those.
Even if you do learn to think ahead, the one thing you need to succeed is desire. What you want to achieve must matter to you, otherwise you won’t have the grit to follow through with hard decisions. Make your mission bigger than simply wanting to earn money. Entrepreneurs solve problems, so why not solve some of the big ones facing our world today?
Before you do anything else, your first move has to be to get to know yourself. It might seem like a no-brainer, but self-awareness is the key to success. You need to know what matters most to you and what makes you tick. Keep asking yourself questions to reveal your deepest desires. The answers might not come right away, but like with all moves, there is a process.
Once you know what truly matters to you, you can match your business strategy to your level of commitment and vision. For example, if you realize that your ambition is to build a small corner store, you can be laid back about your business approach. If, however, your aim is to disrupt an industry, you will have to treat your business like war.
Maybe you will realize that becoming an entrepreneur is not the path for you. You can become rich without founding your own company because a richer life is only possible when you take responsibility for your own success. You can just as easily do that by pursuing intrapreneurship: you stay part of a company, but create a new business unit or lead a new initiative.
It is important to decide what exactly you want, since you can expect a lot of anguish on your way to the top. If you do not love what you do, you will inevitably quit along the way. One way of finding out what you want to do is to make a list.
When the author quit one of his early jobs as a salesman, he was lost. He knew he had made the right decision, but he did not know where he wanted to go next. That was when he sat down and made a list of who he wanted to be. This list included making his surname “Bet-David” mean something, and included a clear formula for how to get to the top.
On your way to the top you will be faced with issues every single day. Maybe your best employee is threatening to leave if she does not get equity. Or maybe the market crashes by 30% in one month due to a global pandemic. Or maybe you are faced with challenges from a bigger competitor.
A successful CEO keeps calm in the face of problems and crises. That is why your second move should be to learn how to process issues. You will need to be able to look at the world with a calm and clear mind, unclouded by emotion, in order to make sound business decisions.
Take the author as an example. He had already become a CEO by 2013, but he kept having panic attacks for 18 months after that. He was indecisive and kept lying awake at night thinking about the decisions he had made and how he could have acted differently. That was because he believed that there were only black and white solutions. Truth be told, there is not just one correct solution to a problem. The key to good decision-making is to learn how to process issues productively.
The most important part of processing a problem is taking responsibility for it. The most successful entrepreneurs always see the role they play in an issue. They ask themselves: “How did I contribute to this? What did I do to cocreate this situation? How can I improve so I’ll be better equipped to handle something like this in the future?”
Even in times of crises, it is important to shift your perspective. Even when things are beyond your control, such as during a global pandemic, you can still control your reaction to the situation. This allows you to regain control of the problem and move forward.
When you learn to think five moves ahead, you will quickly come to see that you cannot possibly do it all on your own. Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of thinking that once they have made it to a certain point, they can manage the rest from that point onward as well. That is not true, however. You will need a team if you really want your business to grow.
To build a team, start by answering the question, “Why would someone work with me?” When your company is still small and you are not making much revenue, you will truly need to convince people to want to work with you. You will need a benefits program to motivate people to come and join your company.
Recruiting does not stop once you have hired someone to work for you either. If you have hired top talent, you will constantly have to re-recruit them, otherwise some other company may steal them from you.
The key to a successful team and business is your company culture. It is almost like a religion for some successful companies: think of Apple or Google – they both have their individual symbols and rituals, and people who work for these companies often strongly believe in their values.
That is why you need a clearly defined company culture for your own company as well. Based on the values that are important for you and your business, you can make the right hiring decisions. The author even went so far as to create a family culture for his own family! Their core values are courage, wisdom, tolerance, and understanding and they stand for leadership, respect, improvement, and love.
For your company, it is best to build a principles-based culture, writes Bet-David: “You need principles. You must write them down, repeat them often, and show by example your commitment to honoring them.”
Once you have mastered the three foundational moves, you are now ready to learn how to be a CEO. So, how do you scale your company for growth? There are four phases to every startup: formulation, survival, momentum, and plateau. No matter what stage your business is currently in, you will need a plan to capitalize on it.
How do you raise the funds to get going? The solution to this problem is always industry specific. For example, if you are building a tech company that cannot make measurable money, but does generate attention, you will need to raise money up front. Other industries may require more organic growth.
To truly get ahead you will need growth. You probably know that person who is at the gym every single day, but never seems to make any progress. That is what most of us are like – we go through the motions every day without thinking about how to get ahead.
There are two types of business growth: linear growth and exponential growth. Linear growth is steady but unspectacular, involving things such as meeting deadlines and expanding your network. Exponential growth means making quantum leaps, such as when an entrepreneur uses his vision to create something exceptional.
As a CEO, you have four strategic areas that you are responsible for:
Your business is not isolated. There will always be competitors in the field, and how you want to deal with them is up to you. Every business has a Goliath - someone who is taking up all the market share, or maybe even a colleague who has more expertise than you do.
If you want to take down the Goliath in your business, you need to be someone who can tolerate pain. Goliath is bigger than you, has more capital, resources, and experience, and possibly even a more well-known reputation and brand. However, Goliath also has a weakness: Being at the top comes with getting comfortable, and Goliath often does not see attacks coming.
You need to be prepared to win the battle. Know your own weaknesses and strengths and aim to get better than Goliath in at least three things. Keep a low profile and go into battle quickly. Try to seek partnerships with others to team up against Goliath.
Even when you are at the top, however, you need to cultivate your power and stay battle-tested. Take the author’s friend Bobby’s company as an example. He was creating $8 million in revenue, but $5 million was from one customer alone. The customer had more leverage and kept pushing for more benefits. Eventually, the customer moved to a different company and Bobby lost $5 million of his revenue overnight. He eventually had to sell his company.
So, always cultivate your options. Having options to choose from means having power. Ask yourself, “Who has the leverage in my business relationships?”
To become a successful entrepreneur or CEO, you need to know yourself. You need a passion and desire to succeed - no matter what industry you are in - along with an ability to process issues effectively. You cannot do it alone. Find a team that supports your core values and lead them and your company to exponential growth by creating an innovative campaign.
Ask yourself what you want in life - do you have what it takes to get to the very top and lead a large company?
Patrick Bet-David is an Iranian-American entrepreneur and financial advisor. When he was 10 years old, his parents fled from war-torn Iran to the U.S. Even though he never obtained a college degree, Bet-David founded his own fi... (Read more)
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