Setting Our Course
Something I am asked a lot is, “How did you start this?” I think the assumption is that there is some bite sized piece that can be culled and tackled to form a clear and rewarding first step. For us, that’s not how it went. We dipped our toes in a few hundred different pools…at once. There are a few things I would advise NOT starting with. The business plan is one of them. (The photo is from a used/vintage book store in the South End Boston.)
Okay, that sounded a little extreme. Charting out the key financials and milestones is a good thing to do early. Creating a huge 50 pager ready for the board room is, however, an extremely effective way of talking your way out of the endeavor. It contains no passion, no dream; just numbers. If your realistic, those numbers will be tough to swallow. It’s going to drive home the fact that risk is part of this.
We are just now creating a somewhat detailed plan. We still don’t have business cards.
To me a huge myth is that a business plan is this tome that details every facet of you business. Honestly, it’s just not possible to bullshit that much. Most plans are written pretty early when there is very little evidence for how the future will actually unfold. This is certainly true for us. We are lucky to have friends and advisors who have been through this before to help make our guesses more accurate. In the end, however, they are still guesses.
Also, people read novels, not business plans. It would be a miracle if anyone has read to this point in this post. The more that is written the more that will be missed by a hasty skimmer. Making it formal in tone will only increase the skimming effect. This is easier said than done. I love Blaise Pascal’s quote, “If I had more time I would have written you a shorter letter.” At this point I can tell our story in 5 minutes. My elevator pitch still sucks. I need time…
That might have all sounded a bit negative, but actually, it’s not. To me, the business plan has become increasingly less intimidating. It’s focused, short, and everyone knows it’s no more than a hypothesis.
I promise to share most of our overview (I refuse to use the word “plan.”) soon.