So here you are! You have worked on and completed your own laser-tight analytic business plan and you think you’re all set up to drive forward into a sun-shining future…. And then there always seems to be yet another hurdle to overcome. This is the heart and soul of the young, start-up business; especially if you are trying to push the boundaries and deliver innovation in your industry.
Your business plan will (we REALLY hope) detail how you will act on your business opportunity. However, in the start-up company environment “the only constant is change” and that throws up seemingly endless new hurdles and challenges to overcome. It is how you deal with these hurdles on a profesisonal and personal level that will set you apart from your competitors and see your business succeed or fail. How can you do this?
Face the hard issues up front and head on
Don’t let your passion for what you want to do blind you from reality. It is easy to side-step (or at worst ignore) the issues that may fundamentally affect your core business proposition especially if you don’t have experience dealing with them. Get them out on the table early on – be honest with yourself and others – it will save enormous grief in the long term. If any issues are serious enough to affect your core business you should review your financial assumptions to see how they affect your forecast going forward.
Never be afraid to ask for advice
No-one has the answers to all the questions that they will be faced with in starting a business. The art is to recognise your limitations and ask the right questions of the right people. Where you have weaknesses build a network of support (professional, informal, non-executive) and use it to overcome problems as they arise. You don’t have to know everything, you just have to know where to find the information that will enable you to make the best decision. Budgeting in your business plan for the cost of periodic advice is wise at least on a contingency level.
Be utterly, ruthlessly professional
When you come across a hurdle deal with it thoroughly and without exception. It is a threat to your success and that of your business. If you don’t it will likely come back and cause you problems in the long term. A number of relatively small un-addressed problems can drain the business and pull it down. Executing a business plan relies on the ability to deliver success amidst change. The way you deal with issues as they arise conveys a message to your employees, investors, and partners. If you deal with issues openly, professionally and ruthlessly you will gain their respect even if your business plan is not achieved in full.
Number 1 Rule to Keep on Track
Keep track of your progress against your Business Plan
This is your guide to keep you on track. It is the straight rod to remind you of your CORE business. Ignore the shiny lights and trinckets, when distracted, revisit The Plan!
However also remember that it is NOT inflexible, far from it. Revise the plan as necessary when (notice this is WHEN not IF!) your original assumptions are challenged.
In the business decision making process, face up to the hard issues, ask for advice and be a cut throat professional throughout it all.