Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Planning for and building the right business model 101 – 27: goals and benchmarks and effective development and communication of them 7

Posted in startups, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on January 28, 2017

This is my 27th posting to a series that addresses the issues of planning for and developing the right business model, and both for initial small business needs and for scalability and capacity to evolve from there (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and its Page 4 continuation, postings 499 and loosely following for Parts 1-26.) I also include this series in my Startups and Early Stage Businesses directory and its Page 2 continuation.

I began working my way through a set of three to-address points in Part 25 and Part 26, that I will continue delving into here, where I consider:

1. What the founding team sought to develop as a business in general goals-oriented terms for what they would offer, and for what would competitively set them apart in this,
2. What they personally brought to the table as far as skills and experience were concerned that would support and enable this venture,
3. And at least a few details of their business plan thinking, that would help them leverage their Point 2 resources in developing a venture towards achieving their Point 1 goals.

And to be more precise in connecting this posting to previous installments in its series, I discussed Points 1 and 2 of that list in them and I began addressing Point 3, as well, doing so in general organizing terms. And I have been building all of this narrative around a specific real-world case study that I have drawn from my own professional experience while working as a consultant. So I recommend you’re reviewing Parts 25 and 26 for their discussion of that, as well as for relevant points of discussion related to this three point list.

With that housekeeping out of the way, I turn back to Point 3 and its issues. I offered a brief, generally, and even essentially universally applicable set of to-do points, for addressing Points 1 and 2 of the above list, in Part 26. And any realistic, business-specific attempt to address Point 3 here, for any specific startup venture, is going to require taking those points out of the abstract in meeting their requirements. So I begin addressing Point 3, by repeating that list (with changes and additions added here for purposes of discussion to come):

1. Start with as clear as possible a statement of what the founding team seeks to develop as a business, in general goals-oriented terms for what they would offer to their markets, and for what would competitively set them apart there.
2. Then reality check that characterization of intended goals, against an equally clearly stated inventory listing of the resources and assets that that founding team can bring to this effort, and starting with what they personally bring to the table as far as skills and experience are concerned that would support and enable this venture, as well as any financial or other resources that they can commit and devote to it. And to complete this list, include any negatives as well (e.g. anything like non-compete agreements with previous employers, as that would impact upon one or more members of this team actually being able to perform in this new venture as intended and desired.)
3. And now bring this all into more specifically actionable terms with at least the initial planning, outline details of their business plan thinking, that would help them leverage their Point 2 resources in developing a venture towards achieving their Point 1 goals. The goal in this step is to build a foundation for iteratively, step by step fleshing out the business plan that is to be followed here, with a consistent, orderly, mission and vision statement-oriented focus,
4. And to identify any places where Plan B refinement or initial-idea replacement updates would be needed, to make this new venture as secure in its succeeding as possible. This means stepping back and making changes and corrections as needed, and with a goal of making the business plan followed, a dynamic adaptable game plan for moving forward.
5. And this (ongoing) effort enters into both completing a full business plan that all involved stakeholders can comfortably sign off on, and early development stage planning and strategic reviews as both the expected and the unexpected arise and have to be dealt with and resolved.

What are the principle enemies of the flow of processes that I have just listed there, in my here-expanded version of the to-do list offered in Part 26? I touched on one of the most problematical of them there, when addressing communications and related challenges, where divergence in goals and priorities – and in unstated assumptions, and in coming to agreement on where the new business actually is now, can thwart a founding team and their efforts. I bring in a second, more detail-grounded set of challenges here, with scope creep and a loss of focus, as founding members seek to pursue “easy” add-ons to their initially agreed upon business plan.

The real problem is that sometimes it is necessary to make changes – and even significant ones going forward, in what the business is being built toward, and in mapping out an operational and strategic path for getting there. Sometimes change in operational scope, and even change in at least some of details of the overall goals pursued, make real sense and to capture unexpected new sources of potential value, or even out of absolutely necessary in limiting unexpected emergent risk or loss. But how can you best determine where change of this type makes positive sense, and when it would in fact represent scope creep and drift, as negatives to avoid?

I will offer a pair of, at least conceptual reality check test questions as response to the above-stated question, that you can apply to specific business building contexts, and in whatever process and goals terms that would make sense for you there.

• Are you looking at a shiny new possibility to pursue in building your new business venture, in isolation from the rest of your overall business planning?
• Or are you approaching this new possible addition to what you would do, entirely in terms of your already ongoing planning and business development and in terms of how it would or would not support and fit into your already stated goals for your new venture?

This posting is my seventh in a row now in this series, to specifically focus on the issues of “goals and benchmarks and effective development and communication of them.” And I verify that as my goal here by pointing to the title of this posting as showing at the top of this blog page. How does a proposed shift or change mesh with and support that? And if it deviates from that, how would that change meet due diligence and risk remediation requirements for increasing the chances of this new venture succeeding, and at what costs as well as with what possible positive returns?

As a final thought here, change and the potential for drift: both positively worth considering and less so, can arise from within the founding team. But they can also arise from outside of it and certainly when outside stakeholders such as angel or venture capital investors become involved, and in ways that mean their holding an equity stake in the venture. I am going to continue this discussion in a next series installment where I will explicitly consider outside stakeholders, and how differences in overall goals and priorities can and do play out in building new businesses.

Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings and series at Business Strategy and Operations – 4, and also at Page 1, Page 2 and Page 3 of that directory. And you can find this and related material at my Startups and Early Stage Businesses directory too and at its Page 2 continuation.


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