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Lead Your Team Strategy

Devil in the Details: Startups Must Stay 'Big-Picture'

Devil in the Details: Startups Must Stay 'Big-Picture'
Entrepreneurs can easily miss the 'big picture' of their business by fixating on small details. / Credit: Big picture image via Shutterstock

Meticulous attention to detail is a prized quality in many circumstances, such as developing a computer program or editing a piece of writing. In these cases, one tiny mistake could change the entire meaning of the finished product, rendering it nonsensical at best or completely useless at worst.

If you think that running a startup also calls for such a focus on details, entrepreneur Elton Rivas advises you to think again.

"One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is losing focus on executing a pre-defined strategy because they are paying too much attention to detail," said Rivas, founder of entrepreneur accelerator program the KYN Group. "Most entrepreneurs think that this is important in maintaining quality, when in reality, the inverse happens. Focusing on finite details too much lowers quality, derails strategy and ultimately disappoints customers.

"Too much attention to detail [helps you] paint a great picture of what's most important right now, yet [you] forget what is most important this quarter or this year, and ultimately lose sight of the long-term plan." [What is a Vision Statement?]

Gathering and analyzing data over time is one of the best ways to ensure that you're keeping the "big picture" in mind for your business, Rivas said.

"Data doesn't lie," he told Business News Daily. "It informs and builds puzzle pieces into landscapes. Yet, entrepreneurs with great data can still miss the big picture view — the interpretation of data is where many fall short."

Rivas provided three tips for entrepreneurs who want to create a comprehensive, data-driven view of their companies:

  • Build a dashboard. A data-driven company is only as good as the data itself, and more importantly, how it's used. To ensure a holistic view of your business, start by outlining the key metrics that matter. Come together as a leadership team, outline the goals — what needs to be done, when and how you can measure success or failure — and then take the time to build a dashboard. Have the employee(s) who are responsible for achieving the goals update the data in the dashboard, so that they have ownership of what's getting done. Review the goals daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly, and make the data part of your decision-making process and meetings. Whatever you do, don't let the importance of keeping the data up to date and accurate slip. As soon as that happens, you've lost the foundation of everything you just built.
  • Create a culture that cares. If data is the foundation layer, genuine human emotion is the landscaping for the business. When the people who work with you, for you, above you and around you genuinely care about the work that they are doing, they will find ways to improve the business every single day. Hire people who believe deeply in your vision. Give them direction, and set expectations. Entrepreneurs care about their business, so don't forget to be just as passionate about getting your team to care, too.
  • Gather information and act on it. In a world of readily available information, never assume that there's no one else compiling more knowledge than you are. Pick the top 10 blogs of competitors in your industry and keep an eye on them. Set up Google alerts for relevant keywords (names of competitors, industries, key challenge topics you are currently facing, industry blogs, etc.). Read news stories from your industry's biggest publications every morning and night. Once you've gathered all that information, act on it. To keep progressing with a comprehensive view, you must apply new knowledge gained to help your business every single day.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

Nicole Fallon
Nicole Fallon

Nicole Fallon received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the assistant editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.