The four rules you need to remember.
- Make the Plan
- Execute the plan
- Expect the plan to go off the rails
- Throw away the plan
Captain Cold’s idea of strategizing his evil schemes is one that most of us would never consider being an advisable business tactic. However, though she did not present her counsel in this exact light, Danielle Strachman’s advice to young entrepreneurs actually lines up quite nicely with our ever so cool villain’s ideology.
Recently I had the opportunity to watch a recording of a group call with Danielle Strachman, a General Partner of 1517 Fund, as she gave advice to members of the Praxis program. During this call, Danielle helped lay out the necessary steps to starting an entrepreneurial business.
1. Make the Plan
When asked how one can determine whether or not an idea is worth pursuing, Danielle advised that an individual determine the weak areas of their product or service before they put the time, effort and money into creating it. By getting your product out in front of people and receiving their feedback, one can discover areas of their business that can be improved or completely changed. In order to know if your business plan will work, it first must prove its ability to create value for others.
Being able to measure exactly what you are creating for your customer will allow you to market your product in a way that your consumer can understand and see the value in. Are you creating an easier product, a cheaper product, a new trend, etc? What value are you creating? If you can demonstrate the value of your product to a customer then you won’t have to argue with them on whether it’s actually valuable. Any way of gathering the opinions of potential customers will improve the likelihood of your business plan’s success.
2. Execute the plan
The question of how to go about pitching one’s business plan to a potential sponsor came up during this group call. Danielle advised her listeners was to have two plans to present. One, the grand scale plan; and two, the step by step actions that are already in motion.
Here’s the thing, big ideas and plans sound cool but they don’t promise success. A potential sponsor is going to be far more interested in the steps that you have already taken in bringing about your desired goals. It’s like the difference between saying you are going to win the Superbowl, and actually having a game plan for how to stop the Patriots defense and score more than once in the entire game. Sorry Ram fans.
Saying what your end goal is without a step by step idea of how you will get there will leave you lost and perhaps even without a Superbowl ring. Know where you are going but also how you are going to get there.
3. Expect the plan to go off the rails
One thing I’ve learned growing up in the rodeo world is that it’s not a question of if you’ll get hurt, but how. The same thing applies to starting your own business. The plan is gonna go off tracks.
Danielle’s answer to these unpredicted wrecks is having the right team. If you go into your business endeavor anticipating obstacles along the way then you will be able to choose the right people to be by your side. If each team member has their area of expertise and they know that they are being counted on to pull their load, then the entire body can function properly. If one person lords over the rest, trying to be the expert in each area, then the body will starve, overwork itself, and die. A team is made of members that respect each other’s roles and who can also step back from the rest of the body so as to see what can be improved as a whole.
4. Throw away the plan
In the end, your plan may not work. It’s sad but it’s still a chance. Here’s the thing though, mistakes are opportunities to learn, and as long as you learn to form your experience then it’s not actually a mistake. If your business idea turns out to be a flop then learn from it and then throw it out. Don’t allow yourself to hold to a lie that you’ve somehow failed. Move on to your next adventure.
Here’s some failure statistics for you. Walt Disney went bankrupt, Dr. Seuss was rejected by 27 publishing companies, and Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore. Just remember
Often the goal is closer than
It seems to a faint-hearted man
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup
And he learned too late when the night slipped down
How close he was to the golden crown
Never allow your failure to define you. Use them to become a better you.
So get your cool gun, put on some sick shades, and master that perfect villain grin. You have the ability to create value for others, so get out there and do it.