Absolutely ... maybe Featured

6:34am EDT September 1, 2005
You should be absolutely certain of and unwaveringly committed to everything in your business plan ... maybe.

This is not meant to be a silly play on words. Instead, it’s meant to reinforce that you must have a true — and near fanatical — belief in your goal. But you must also be open to new thoughts and opportunities that were not part of your original plan.

Whether it’s expanding your company, launching a spinoff division or developing a new product line, without undying commitment to your vision, you probably will not be able to reach it. The hurdles are many, as are the emotional roller coasters you’ll encounter along the way.

But if you have done everything to verify that there is a viable, highly profitable market, and you have developed a solution to serve this market, you have some of the key ingredients needed for success. As you progress, you will undoubtedly learn more about your intended market and about serving that market.

Some of what you learn will be contrary to your original thinking — you may find that your employees, management team, client base and others with a vested interest in your company have views that are markedly different from your own. And even if these views are not addressed in your plan, that does not make them less valid.

Entrepreneurs often laugh at large companies’ supposed not-invented-here syndrome. Yet I have seen more resistance to changes in the business plan from entrepreneurs than from successful, professionally managed businesses. Too often, entrepreneurs fall in love with their original plans and don’t consider new information.

Recently during a deal, it became apparent that there were additional channels to market that made the originally planned channel less important. At first, the entrepreneur fought against exploiting the new channels, mainly because it made his original idea less important. But finally, he reluctantly accepted it. Instead, he should have listened to new distribution channel ideas with an eager ear.

The lesson is that with any changes to your business, your business plan should be your starting point and guide, but it should never preclude new and better methods and procedures.

Erwin Bruder is president of The Gordian Organization. Reach him at (216) 292-2271 or ebruder@gordian.org.