Entrepreneurial Strategies, Part 1

In his book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Peter Drucker presented how innovation and entrepreneurship can be a purposeful and systematic discipline. That discipline is still as relevant to today’s business environment as when the book was published back in 1985. The book explains the challenges faced by many organizations and analyzes the opportunities which can be leveraged for success.

Drucker wrote that entrepreneurship requires two combined approaches:  entrepreneurial strategies and entrepreneurial management. Entrepreneurial management is practices and policies that live internally within the enterprise. Entrepreneurial strategies, on the other hand, are practices and policies required for working with the external element, the marketplace.

Drucker further believed that there are four important and distinct entrepreneurial strategies we should be aware of. These are:

  1. Being “Fustest with the Mostest”
  2. “Hitting Them Where They Ain’t”
  3. Finding and occupying a specialized “ecological niche”
  4. Changing the economic characteristics of a product, a market, or an industry.

These four strategies need not be mutually exclusive. A successful entrepreneur often combines two, sometimes even three elements, in one strategy.

Being “Fustest with the Mostest” (FwtM) is about establishing a leadership position. In this strategy, the entrepreneur aims at leadership. It always aims at creating a new industry, a new market or a quite different and highly unconventional process.

Being FwtM does not necessarily aim at creating a big business right away. In fact, not every FtwM strategy needs to aim at creating a big business, but it must always aim at creating a business that dominates its market.

Perhaps because FtwM must aim at creating something truly new, something truly different, nonexperts and outsiders seem to do as well as the experts, in fact, often better.

To use this strategy effectively, it requires thought and careful analysis. In fact, for this strategy to succeed at all, the innovation must be based on a careful and deliberate attempt to exploit one of the major opportunities for innovation.

Being FtwM requires an ambitious aim; otherwise, it is bound to fail. The strategy also must hit right on target or it misses altogether. Once launched, the FtwM strategy is difficult to adjust or to correct.

After the innovation has become a successful business, the strategy of FtwM demands substantial and continuing efforts to retain a leadership position. Otherwise, we have just created a market for competitors.

The entrepreneur must work even harder now to make his product or his process obsolete before a competitor can do it. Working on the successor to the successful product or process must start immediately, with the same concentration of effort and the same investment of resources that led to the initial success.

Being FtwM is the approach that many people consider the entrepreneurial strategy par excellence. Of all entrepreneurial strategies outlined previously, it is the greatest gamble. FtwM is also unforgiving, making no allowances for mistakes, and permitting no second chance. But if an entrepreneur is successful with FtwM, the strategy is highly rewarding.