Thursday, April 22, 2010

Discovery

Are you worth it?

I see this reiterated time and again: a business plan is not a plan for the business. It isn't a roadmap. It isn't a guide. It will not ensure success. It is not useful.

Except for a couple of things. Well, one, really. A business plan is useful for impressing business persons. Other business persons. Like bankers, investors, and other sometimes necessary representatives of evil.

But that's it.

There was one study I saw referenced, about young, go-gettem entrepreneurs, and how, despite the odds, they made it big. Or kind of big. Or how they made it, even if you wouldn't call it big. They made it anyway.

And those people said this and that and the other, and were proud, and tired, and a bit scarred. But they had made it.

And then one other thing, too.

They all said that almost immediately after going into business, each had to change plans. Radically. Some within almost the first few hours, some a little later on. But soon, and radically, and more than once, most of them. It was the kind of thing you've heard before: "If I'd known then what I know now I wouldn't even have tried."

Yes you've heard it.

You may even have said it.

But the real point is, well two real points - one is that they succeeded and the other is that they were intelligently flexible, which is what you are not if you spend months and possibly thousands coming up with a business plan, and ride it all the way down.

Because, you know, it's The Plan. And all. Crash. Burn.

Another interesting thing I read recently was how it isn't the business plan that's important but the business model: what kind of thing you want to do and how you want to go about doing it. Like who are you and what are you going to do with what you have?

A plan does not go with this territory. A plan is like wearing only a hankie to a funeral. Not adequate. (Not even!) And certainly not appropriate.

A plan is a plan. Plan on it, a little, but don't bet on it.

Look, if you could see the future, well in the first place life would suck pretty badly. But OK, boring, we know that.

The point is if you could see the future, you'd know. You'd come up with some kind of plan and every single step would snick into place at exactly the right time in the right way and to the right amount and all the rest. You really would not even have to write it down, because you'd just know.

That ever happen?

Naw.

That is exactly why people like sports so much.

Every team or individual competitor, whichever it is, goes in with a plan. A plan not just spelled out or photocopied and put into three-ring binders, but a plan that includes years of training and discipline, of studying the sport and the competition, and the venue and every possible variable. And as often as not the wildly unexpected happens.

In fact the unexpected always happens. Many unanticipated twists and turns appear every second. Every now and then you squeak your way to the desired outcome, but you can't count on it. That's why they call it squeaking out a victory. That's why people go nuts for sports. Because they never know for sure. Until the very end.

That's why business plans are odd curiosities, mildly amusing, but almost pointless.

Unless you must have one to impress someone who thinks that they are a pretty nifty idea. And most of those people are not really that bright. They just can't think of anything else to do. So they ask to see your business plan. So they can act like they know something.

Well, plans are one thing, but another is luck.

You can't blindly rely on your business plan, and you can't blindly rely on luck. If you've ever heard of the Horatio Alger stories you got the wrong idea. They aren't about an enterprising young lad making his way in the world by sheer pluck. Nope.

They all involve an enterprising young lad making his way in the world, exhibiting mass quantities of pluck, who then is discovered by a generous rich man who decides to reward said young man with a wad of cash or a fat job, or all of the above plus his daughter's hand in marriage and so on, but it is not hard work or talent or persistence that win the day. The kid always (Always!) gets a hugely lucky break.

It is discovery, being discovered.

Waiting to be discovered is the worst business plan of all. That is like waiting around on the street corner to sell your soul for bus fare so you can get to the blood bank and sell plasma for food. Not a smart way to make a living, either as a business plan or as a business model.

If you wait to be discovered, or you plan on having your business discovered, and figure you'll see everything work out wonderfully after that happens, uh-uh. Forget it.

You will only have sold yourself to possibly the only bidder who thought they could suck a bit of blood from you, and who has much more money and power than you do, and is willing to take away all you can produce, and drop you like a dead rat if you don't pay off.

So, business plans are not so good, and relying on luck is not so good, and building up your business to the point that it looks to someone like they can make a killing at your expense is not so good, so what? What then?

Here's where we get back to that business model idea.

If you are in business, and have a reason to be in business, and want to do something businesslike in a certain way, then you have a chance.

But you have to do it yourself. It takes time and intelligence and faith and hard work. And you might fail. That could happen.

But at least you'll have a chance that way. At least you'll have a chance.

So believe in yourself. If you don't, no one else will do it for you, even if they say they will.

From buznutt.

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