Lessons from the masters - getting it right - Running a business...
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Running a business, not a business plan.
All this talk about vision leads me smoothly onto one of my pet hates: business plans. As a moderately cynical Englishman, I find that business plans too often are associated with awful, cutesy mantras like "failure to plan is planning to fail" and all those other self-empowering pieces of nonsense.
Undoubtedly, many business plans are based on common sense. The problem is that they are often taken absurdly far, and seem to take on a life and purpose of their own. Worrying about the business plan takes up more time than worrying about the business - it is obvious that this can't lead to anything good.
Without a doubt, it is important for a successful software company to know where they're going, and where they want to be in X years time. But it's equally important to know what's realistic, and what amounts to little more than a hopeless dream. Yet again, you need to strike the correct balance between optimism and sheer madness. And any company who wants to be successful has to be prepared for a long and fairly slow process, with a wide range of different hurdles along the way.
Tim Korea used to work for a .COM start-up, and spent far too many nights sleeping under his desk. After two years, he realized that he could be doing this on his own, and doing a better job in the process. So he quit his job, and started off his company as a one-man show in his basement. He produced a business plan, and outlined a three-year plan for his company, where he envisaged a team of five in a small but comfortable office. Today, his plan has come true.
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