“When have any of our plans actually worked?
We plan, we get there, all hell breaks loose.”
Harry Potter, in the Deathly Hallows, Part II
This column continues our theme of the importance and value of planning in small, entrepreneurial and family ventures. Over the last two installments on planning, among other points, we have seen that 1) business planning exists on a continuum from informal, unwritten, in your head to formally written; 2) new start-ups exist on a continuum from small business ventures that are not scalable beyond local operations to highly scalable ventures that seek to redefine and dominate markets and maximize return to investors; and 3) allows the entrepreneur to balance and blend all these relationships: opportunity, resources and team, including but not limited to seeking funding on a continuum from personal funds, friends, family, and founders and highly sophisticated term sheets from angel and venture capitalist investors.
Against this backdrop, we continue to illuminate a number of deceptively simple, challenging questions that we must ask, answer and update as conditions change over time. But just like Harry Potter in The Deathly Hallows, we sometimes feel that our plans are not always in sync with what happens next. Indeed, plans and planning are often more on the front lines of organized chaos than calm.
Back to our roots…
No business exists in a vacuum, but rather in a competitive business environment. Today we examine four additional touchstone questions that inform how we define our business and competition. 1) What is your reason for being in this business? 2) What is the primary function of your good or service: 3) What are three unique benefits of your product or service? 4) Who is your competition?