Most startups begin with an idea of a useful product or service. Plans are drawn, teams are formed, funds are raised, and a startup business is born. This takes a lot of work, but despite the attrition rate, the number of new businesses are on the rise.

At some point, many startups stagnate. Perhaps growth slows, scope creep dilutes the purpose of the business, or the leadership slowly lose their initial passion.

Regardless of where in its life a business is, reverse engineering principles can be a highly beneficial tool if used regularly.

Reverse engineering does not have to be a complicated procedure. Instead, view it as a shift in thinking. Typically, people start their planning with the present and work forward. This can result in decisions being made for short-term benefit at the expense of the long-term strategic aim.

Reverse engineering is the opposite. The thinker identifies a desirable end-goal and then works backwards to determine the steps needed to get there. Of course, life does not follow a set plan, but by thinking with a specific end-goal in mind, the thinker can always ask them self: does this serve my end-goal or move me laterally or away from it?

If you are a business owner, having an end-goal in mind makes the journey easier to navigate because it gives you a mental compass to frame your decisions against.

For example, if I am starting a business. I want to have a clear idea of my exit strategy. At what price range will I be willing to sell my company and what companies might I want to sell it to? If I know that, during the life of my business I can steer it in a way that makes it more appealing to the companies I envision selling it to. Or perhaps I want to make the business my legacy and pass it to my children, that would lead me to make very different decisions.

Many great insights, inventions, and breakthroughs have come from reverse engineering. Try taking some time to apply the reverse engineering mainframe to your business and see if using it affects the decisions you make.