Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This is the Plan. Part II.


Dear Readers,

So as I said in my first post, on June 12th, 2007, I woke up an entrepreneur.

Now what?

The big idea is the easy part. Well, it's easy once you dream up the "big idea."

But now I had to start. Tap tap tap.... fingers on keyboard... tap tap tap.... sigh. Now I had to start.

Ah yes! A business plan! Isn't THAT what you are supposed to do? You have a big idea and then you sit down at a computer and you write 25 pages of "business plan" that takes weeks. Because You Need a Business Plan.

So I started a business plan. Got through about three paragraphs. Then I looked online for business plan writers. Which didn't make any sense. Because how can anyone know what you are planning?

So I wrote a fourth paragraph.

Then I read Ladies Who Launch: Embracing Entrepreneurship & Creativity As A Lifestyle, by Victoria Colligan & Beth Schoenfeldt with Amy Swift. And they said that some of the most successful women entrepreneurs never wrote a business plan. They said that women start businesses from the gut, not from an Excel spreadsheet, and that as more and more women start and thrive in their own businesses, the world needed to take a look at what makes these women successful. And it's not a business plan.

But then I had coffee (and the most amazing pastries) with my friend Michael, who is a genius and genuine, and he is a master of business plans. And he gave me an outline for a business plan. The outline was 25 pages. So I wrote about five.

And I never really wrote a full on business plan.

Here's the thing. If I ever need to raise major capital, I'll write one. Because those are the rules of the game. But I believe that as long as you have a basic outline of what you are going to do, why you are doing it, how you are going to do it, and how it will thrive, you'll be ok. For me, the important thing was to start my company rolling and not get mired in "the plan."

Which doesn't mean I don't have a plan. I have pages and pages now, and spreadsheets too. Numbers and data and more numbers and more data. And it changes. Just about every day. Because in technology, the most important thing to be is flexible. The second most important thing to be is focused. The business plan keeps you focused. But truly smart entrepreneurs, in my book, are flexible enough to go with the flow and keep learning and moving and learning and moving.

There is an old Jewish adage: We plan. God laughs.

I hope S/He's not laughing at me. Cause man, that would be a cruel joke.

XOXO,
Auntie Melanie


7 comments:

  1. I think what is more important is ACTION. I actually think the business plan can be a "chicken exit", and keep you away from doing what you really want. I totally believe that you can be successful just getting out there with a general idea of where you are going. I think thats how God wants us to work, right? Instead of waiting until you have every last thing detailed and planned out on a 25 pg. biz plan. You go girl!

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  2. When I stared alexcaseybaby.com, I wanted to run through the motions and arrive at a beautiful website and launch my perfect business which I had all planned out... in my head. Thankfully, my (very organized and smart) husband helped me put on the brakes and urged me to write a plan. It's not detailed to the extent that it would be had I sought out investors, but at least it showed where I (hoped) I was going. I'm not a "planner" per se, but having another person out their eyes over my idea made me feel more confident that I was headed in the right direction. And spending my money wisely.

    I just wrote a second plan for my new venture and it came out much easier than the first.

    That was a long comment :).

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  3. "We plan. God laughs."

    I love!!!

    I think YOU can do whatever you set your mind to.

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  4. Hey Savvy Auntie, thanks for mentioning our book! We ourselves eventually wrote a "sort of" business plan when we went for financing, but ultimately, they just want to see that you have proven a concept and have revenues, I don't think that anyone ever read the business plan. Interestingly, we did have to write a book proposal when pitching our book and that was a 6 month process that was more like a business plan than anything!

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  5. Web 2.0 Business Plan:

    1. Create something you're excited about.

    2. Try to get other people excited about it. Ask those you can get excited what it would take to get them more excited; ask those you can't get excited what it would take to get them excited.

    3. Prioritize those things, starting with the stuff that easiest and most impactful.

    Repeat.

    If you create something objectively valuable before you run out of money, you win.

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  6. Great comment Michael. Thanks. You'll see in an upcoming post how I started my business by listening - exactly as you describe it here.

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  7. Melanie,
    You are amazing. And inspiring. And I'm enjoying the ride. Keep writing those posts, because they all speak to me!

    I'm going to learn more old Jewish adages from you than the yentas at my temple! Oy!

    @marlinex

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