What is straddled strategy? by Ali Kasa
Instead of defining it, first let me give you a personal example. The definition will become simpler and clearer this way.
Recently I had a client meeting at 11 am and it usually takes about 30 minutes to reach the customer’s office from my office. I had a few urgent emails which needed my reply so I ended up leaving my office about 10:45 am. This caused me to arrive late at my customer’s office. The planned meeting was for about an hour but I was not able to have a productive meeting with the customer nor was I able to reply to all emails. So throughout the entire duration I was stressed.
From the scenario above you can see I was divided between two outcomes. Both in my mind were important and required immediate attention. Straddled strategy therefore means keeping the existing strategy intact while adopting a new one, which may even conflict with your existing one. The mindset of someone adopting a straddled strategy is that I can do both instead of considering trading off, in other words making choices.
In my work I meet plenty of people who are currently employed and have the dream of becoming their own boss one day. The majority of them say they want to keep working and at the same time invest some of their savings into a small business. They believe if it works they will quit their employment and become full time entrepreneurs. This is another example of straddled strategy where someone is keeping his employment and trying to experiment if business works for him.
What do you think will happen to someone who is employed and trying to do business at the same time?
The answer is obvious… failure. I met a nurse from Malaysia on a plane to Saudi Arabia who lost all her savings and a personal loan of USD 30,000 to do a business while still working at the hospital as nurse. She said that she had no choice but to accept a job in Saudi Arabia away from family to pay back the loans for next 15 years.
The following points are some of the reasons why someone should not practice straddled strategy in entrepreneurship.
- Michael Porter said it best “Strategy is about making choices or tradeoffs. It is about deliberately choosing to be different”. Therefore, strategy means knowing what not to do in given circumstances.
- The mindset of someone practicing the straddled strategy is “I can do both”. But what really happens is they end up not doing well at work and not doing well with their business.
- The answer to, “Why take this approach instead of resigning and doing your business?” is the belief that it minimizes the risk of failure in the new business. They want to play safe, but are they really? It sounds like someone who wants to swim with one leg in the water and the other one outside the water.
This style of swimming may not be an easy one. In the past I have made bad choices in business when coming from a mindset of how I can do more or how can I do two things at the same time believing more is better. Over the years my mindset has been transformed from “How can I do more?” to “What is essential to be done?” and from “More is better” to “Less is more”. I am wise now because I have learned from my mistakes. But true wisdom is found in someone who learns from the mistakes of others. In other words, you can be wiser by learning from my mistakes instead of making your own. Learn how to do less but better and enjoy more with less.
If you are considering entrepreneurship but worry about the evidence that suggests 9 out of 10 new businesses fail within 5 years, perhaps you could consider franchising. Franchising offers the opposite success ratios, that is 9 out of 10 franchisees renew their franchise after 5 years of operations. This could be the perfect way for you to achieve your entrepreneurial dream and minimize the potential failure that you could face by placing a foot in two camps; the straddled strategy.