From I-O to IPO
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From I-O to IPO


Strategy: A Pillar of Entrepreneurship Performance

What competitive moves will you take to succeed?

Photo by Hassan Pasha on Unsplash

When you play chess, you need a strategy. To win, you need to constantly assess your situation and decide the best steps; whether it is to move the queen or lose a pawn to checkmate. The same goes for a startup.

Does your startup have a well defined strategy?

As I mentioned in our first blog of the Twelve Pillars of Entrepreneurship series, each week we will be sharing information and tips for each pillar. Last week, we wrote about the Vision Pillar.

In this blog, I introduce the Strategy Performance Pillar. Our research found that startups who develop competitive strategies to execute their vision are more likely to be successful. I explain what types of behaviors entrepreneurs need to enact in order to develop a strong strategy and outperform their competition.

Strategy as an Entrepreneurship Performance Pillar

First, let’s define strategy. A competitive strategy is at the core of any successful business. While the startup’s vision can be implemented in limitless ways, some strategic approaches will be more effective than others.

A strategy can set your business on the right track. Meaning that there are clear goals to strive for and results to achieve. Companies with a competitive strategy outperform their counterparts. Without a strategy, people will become unfocused, affecting their performance.

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

The Strategy Pillar is about leveraging business intelligence to develop a competitive plan to realize your vision. More simply, performance in the Strategy Pillar boils down to a set of human behaviors related to developing a business strategy that fits a market need and is competitive within the industry.

Below is a graphic that explains the difference between a task (the work that needs to be completed), performance (a collection of behaviors), and the outcome (the end output resulting from the behaviors).

What does high performance in the Strategy Pillar look like?

Entrepreneurs that are skilled in the Strategy Pillar are able to gather competitive intelligence and develop a strategy that helps differentiate the startup from other companies in the market. A strategy requires time, planning, and constant reassessment.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Here are some examples of Strategy behaviors that are common of successful entrepreneurs:

  • Evaluate and scrutinize various approaches for realizing the vision
  • Examine competitive intelligence and the environment to understand trends
  • Prioritize objectives and align the vision with strategic business goals
  • Review, critique, and revise strategic planning

Leveraging Teams for High-Performance

Founders should not be the only ones responsible for developing a strategy. Rather, they should rely on their team to understand the competitive landscape and develop an aggressive strategy. When founders introduce multiple perspectives, they are more likely to identify a strategy that will give their startup a competitive advantage.

My cofounder and I leverage our team’s collective knowledge when developing a strategy. For example, we have members on our team with expertise on user experience and user design in which we, as industrial-organizational psychologists, were not trained. In fact, whenever we bring on a new team member, we ensure they can teach us something and bring unique value to our ever-growing team. Our chosen strategies are more effective because we leverage the power of multiple areas of expertise and insight to make our move.


A strategy should not be an afterthought. It has a crucial role in the success of your startup. A strategic mindset can benefit your organization’s vision and execution. So start writing down and sharing your strategy, ask your team for feedback, and revise.

If you want to learn more about how your thinking styles affect performance in the Strategy Pillar, then stay tuned for our next blog!

Have Questions or Need Advice?

At Blackhawke, we have several I-O psychologists with expertise in entrepreneurship performance and performance management. Feel free to schedule a 15-minute consultation; we’d be happy to provide some advice or answer questions, no strings attached!

About Blackhawke Behavior Science

Want to learn more about building a strong entrepreneurial team and healthy organizational culture? Visit Blackhawke’s Medium publication, From I-O to IPO, or and get social with us on Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, or Twitter!



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Nikki Blacksmith, Ph.D.

Nikki Blacksmith, Ph.D.


Industrial-organizational psychologist. Adjunct Professor at Kogod Business School at American University and Co-founder/CEO of Blackhawke Behaviour Science.