Google Maps Won’t Get You There

Business Planning for Startups and Product Based Ventures

Startup Success

Potential Sand Trap #2 - Planning

Poor planning, or more likely, a lack of good business planning, is a sure way get your startup stuck in the sand.  Opportunities are everywhere, and so are the paths unknown.

Some of the best sounding plans I have ever heard - come from inventors.  They have plans to make millions.  They have it all figured out, and know exactly when it's going to happen.  Ask them for more detail, and they will spout it off the top of their head as if it's straight from the crystal ball.  Gotta love the enthusiasm!

Ask the tough questions, with specifics, however, like Who? How? and Why?, and they will look at you like a deer in the headlights.

What? Make real plans?

I say it half jokingly, but it's amazingly true.  Plans without substance are only a wish.  Kind of like goals.

Many new Entrepreneurs find business planning difficult, because they don't really know how to plan.  There is no shame in it, because we all must learn.  Yet, as you embark on a new venture, your first step is to learn how planning applies.  Ask others for guidance, and I don't mean . . . (from Alice in Wonderland)

cheshire-cat business planning

Alice:  “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

Cat:  "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."

The Sand Appears When You Confuse ACTIVITY with PRODUCTIVITY.

That's worth repeating:  The Sand Pit Appears When You Confuse ACTIVITY with PRODUCTIVITY.  Just because you're busy does NOT mean you're accomplishing things.

Again, the Definition of an Entrepreneurial Sand Trap:  Anything that consumes resources disproportionately.

With planning, we may want to think of that in the opposite sense, because it's the lack of planning that really creates the sand trap.  If you're spinning your wheels, then it's a good guess that you're getting stuck.

What is business planning?

Planning is making a road map to your desired destination.  It's mapping the path to reach your goal(s).  The business planning you need is unique to you, so get some help with your plans.

Planning, Not Google Maps

Be Deliberate.  As Zig Ziglar put it:  Be a Meaningful Specific, not a Wandering Generality.

Ways to Be Deliberate

  • Ask people who know the path.  Ask many people so you get input from several sources, because the best ideas are mutations from multiple sources.
  • Market Research.  You'll kill your company if you don't do this.  Learn how, then do it.
  • Set Specific Times to Plan (day, week, month, ...).  It may be a few minutes, or it may be hours depending on what needs to be accomplished.  Do it.
  • Planning is different for daily / weekly / monthly / yearly goals.  Be deliberate.
  • There are many techniques, like SWOT (Google it), and SCRUM.  Use the bright ideas and tools from others.  They are put together by people that know a lot more about planning than you or I, so leverage their knowledge to your benefit.
  • Write it down.  Put your plans up where you (and your team) can see them every day.

Flexible Execution

Some startup owners say they don't have time to plan.  I ask, "How come you have time to do tasks over again, when you don't have time to do it right the first time?"

After planning comes execution.  Be flexible when you execute a plan.  If you find that the plans are not going as desired, then reconsider your approach.  Is there something that you now know, that changes the plans?   Adjust if needed, but do it deliberately.

There is a lot said about the concept of 'flexible', and some fun aura around 'flying by the seat of your pants'.  Don't buy into it.  Just because someone go lucky, does not mean all that follow will also have the strokes of luck and quick decisions to also gain success.  It is much better to stack the odds in your favor, and act deliberately.

The Planning Takeaway

Planning is never done. - You don't get to check it off your list, Ever !!

Planning and Execution go hand in hand, - one leading the other, Forever !!

For more about business planning, read “The Start-up Owners Manual," by Bob Dorf and Steven Blank.  It's a good book to get you thinking.

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