Business Plan

Bootcamp

The realities of entrepreneurship, we like to pretend don't exist, such is our zeal to get up and running. But the instinctive sounds of concern in our minds are worth listening to.
The videos, especially the comments made by an investor, are an excellent companion to the Bootcamp, underscoring as they do, how naivety can get an entrepreneur in hot water and common sense makes for an excellent starting point.

Equally, each entrepreneur should bear in mind the cautionary tales expressed here. The path ahead is rocky but you don't have to make all the mistakes.

As another entrepreneur expressed it, finding the 'optimal path' is what you must seek, and it will be different for everyone, but many of the steps can be avoided, and money and time can be saved. You may even save your business.

Professional Entrepreneurship

The reality is that the most boring aspects of business, such as market demand and research, production abilities, accounting and staff retention are what determine your success, rather than the neatness of your idea, or your own belief in it.
Entrepreneurship is often considered to be pursued "non-professionally", where one breaks the rules and norms in order to establish new footholds and markets. What matters are concepts like "passion", "a great idea", "tenacity" etc. 

The reality is, however, that entrepreneurship is among the most ultra-professional of careers in order to execute properly, simply because there are no safety nets, like resources to tap in emergency, colleagues to lean on, established operations and markets to churn out work, while you mull your next move, or latest setback.

Luck plays a great role in helping you to survive the challenges you will face, but successful entrepreneurs will also tell you, you make your own luck. Opportunity knocks constantly, in equal measure with disaster. 

Should you reach a comfortable size, at this stage you may become susceptible to complacency, and the entrepreneurial cycle must begin again, or you will be left behind while others grow around you.

The Idea versus the Reality

Are you thinking in terms of a blue sky project

based on an idea you think will catch on, or one where demonstrable market demand, access to resources, support from team mates, advice from mentors, the ins and outs of the industry, barriers to competition, ability to promote and sell to the end-customer, cash flow procedures including managing payments to and from your firm, production and delivery processes are all well understood and ready to be put in place with no crucial requirements missing?
Consider the entrepreneurial idea to be the direction you wish to steer your ship in. And consider everything else that makes it a business the ship itself. Clearly, the idea itself is not enough; the viability of the underlying business is what determines your success.

And the ship must be seaworthy, crewed with competent, experienced and loyal people, and containing enough resources to make it from one port to another, and you as the captain able to decide when to change direction according to the prevailing elements.

If you set sail into uncharted waters ignoring, or not knowing, where the ship has sprung leaks, or is missing vital provisions, crew or navigation information, you may have bitten off more than you can chew. Perhaps you might wish to consider a smaller craft in shallower waters while you learn the ropes.

Planning

Entrepreneurial ideas abound and you consider the practicalities and viability of each of them.

We all know the "95% of startups fail" statistic, and indeed many of the basic ideas that motivated the failed startups were excellent in theory, and may even have been executed well by later entrants.

Planning

Initiation

Once the bright flash of the innovative idea is over, it is time to focus on the cold, hard tasks of

building a framework and product,
a pipeline of clients,
a team of focused professionals,
and constant PR.

Growth

Much later after this stage the entrepreneur will settle into the warm glow of prosperity, but note the idea is merely the start of a long process of

making savvy decisions,
taking calculated risks,
developing the killer instinct,
finding creative solutions to unforeseen circumstances,
and management of resources.

Growth

Motivations

01. Learning Experience

Entrepreneurship is not meant to be a learning experience, even though it is. It is meant to be a very serious, professional business where you are responding to what you believe is a market need that you wish to serve, and trust your abilities to deliver given the prevailing conditions. 

Post-MBA, your head is likely filled with vast amounts of useful information that you cannot wait to put into practice. With any luck your MBA learnings will aid you as and when they are relevant.

However there is no connection between taking a business course, and being prepared to start a business. Your MBA is just one of your personal pillars of strength, like your innate capabilities, your team, the market, your investor etc etc.

02. Hubris vs Vision

It's easy to confuse the two. You may dearly wish to create something big and return home the conquering hero, but this is not a reason for starting a business. In fact, it may cloud your common sense in making business decisions, such as starting small, and changing direction when circumstances dictate.

There is no doubt that having a great vision and realizing it is a worthy endeavour, but only in retrospect. Your vision can and must change, what will determine your success is your ability to deal with day-to-day issues, not map out an extraordinary idea and carry it out blindly. 

Hubris is the enemy of patience and common sense, qualities of successful entrepreneurs.
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03. Lack of Suitable Alternatives

The entrepreneur should be driven by a mixture of belief in this being the right time and place to execute on the plan at hand, with a sense of realism as to the feasibility of executing it and the demand for the product or service.

If you are simply stuck with nothing to do at the end of the year, it is probably not the best time to take on a bold project, especially on your own, and in debt. The nautical analogies used earlier are apt: you wish to sail into completely uncharted waters, with limited provisions, no guarantee of a rescue, with storms that will appear when you least expect them.

Going with others can provide some level of comfort that can last throughout the difficult times, but as a leader of your enterprise, you should be acutely aware that your responsibility is to making the business succeed, and tending to the welfare of your crew, rather than give you something to do.

04. Timing

Are you impatient to get off the starters blocks?
Does it matter that you know enough to chart a course ahead, or do you simply want to get started doing something? 
Is your product or service suitable to begin selling, so you can build a name for yourself, or are you still working out the glitches?
Are you still trying to figure out who the market is, and what they want?

Timing is everything in sales, you need to be ready to move when the race begins, hence don't start out of impatience. You have a certain amount of personal resources too, like passion for your idea, energy, motivation, confidence and trust of other people, which may become depleted while things are not moving.
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05. An Act of Rebellion

  • Are you going about this because you think you have failed in other areas, and this is the chance to prove yourself?
  • Is this a rebellious act, or one motivated by astute observation of the real needs, spoken or unspoken, of the targeted marketplace, where you believe that you have the potential to solve a problem?
  • What will measure success for you, can you ever measure it?
  • Are you patient with lack of progress, because you understand the long view, and are not looking for personal validation?
  • Are you making a statement against previous experiences in a full-time job where you felt you could not grow as you wished to?
  • Are you simply trying to emulate someone whom you admire?
  • Are you attempting to realise the unfulfilled dream of a parent?
The margin for error in entrepreneurship is far smaller than in choosing employment, as you have nothing to fall back on, and you may wind up embittered if you don't understand why you didn't succeed, either immediately or at all.

Now you have questioned your motives, you are ready to analyse your business plan.
©2020 Get Started Entrepreneurship Consulting

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