I have launched about four different companies and a dozen or so products. Each of those attempts has been met with a miserable fate: failure. There is a laundry list of reasons why I failed repeatedly, but the primary reason I failed was that I did not have a business plan.
Do you have a business plan?
Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham, the authors of The Knack , a book on how street smart entrepreneurs can learn to manage the unpredictable startup ecosystem, share:
”A business plan lays out what you expect to do.” The two continue. ”You need it, so you’ll know if you have a viable business.”
A viable business? I thought, of course, my business is viable I am in a competitive market. Unfortunately, my premise was not only immature but grossly inaccurate.
I based my businesses success on the popularity of the market: everyone is starting a website, everyone is consulting and everyone is making lots of money, so I am also going to make lots of money.
So I assumed success, and without proof, I barreled forward with a shopping cart full of:
- Weak goals
- A defective awareness of a business plan
- And a third-rate understanding of viability
It’s no wonder why I have been unsuccessful at building a new venture beyond a fledgling startup. Brodsky and Burlingham warn:
”What I am listening for are goals that can’t be achieved by business, or goals that will get in the way of the business, or goals that are totally unrealistic given the particular business you’re looking at.”
So I took a long weekend hacked Josh Kaufman’s “ Creating A Personal Masterplan”, and:
- Created my S.M.A.R.T.goals
- Educated me on viability, to accurately understanding cash flow
- And finally developed a basic business plan
After completing the exercise I felt confident in my chances of building a business that will reach critical mass, Brodsky and Burlingham share some insider expertise:
”Now, when I say the business plan, I don’t mean anything elaborate. I’m talking about a modified, down-and-dirty income statement and cashflow statement. I just want a reasonable expectation of sales by month for a year.”
Many businesses never break free of being a fledgling startup. While there might be an infinite number of reasons, in my experience it’s been the lack of proper planning and execution . If you want to give your startup a good chance of achieving its targets, then I suggest taking the time and developing a down-and-dirty business plan.