A business without a vision is rudderless. It lacks the essential idea from which growth, commitment, and the sense of personal achievement will sprout.
But just having a vision is not enough. Without a plan your vision is only a pie in the sky dream of things that could be. Your vision craves a plan that will make it come alive and birth it into reality!
In the process of launching a new product, your vision is your dream, it’s your grand scale thinking and the projecting of your desires onto your future. It then requires the more earthly, practical strategies, and an implementation plan to make it happen.You can see your vision in it’s entirety, like the cashmere rug weaver can see what the finished carpet will look like, and your business tactics and plans will provide the thread and stitching that’s needed to build the overal results that you want your business to have.
Once you’ve got a clear vision of where you want to go with your business and your product idea, you can use a business plan to give it form, direction and clarity, and to translate the language of your dreams into the language of everyday pratical business steps that will take you where you want to go.
Conventional wisdom, and the conventional business plan (aka. the one that sits in a drawer and gathers dust) is not the type of plan that I’m talking about today. You aren’t taking this plan to the bank to apply for a loan, you’re using this plan to translate your vision into a reality, so it’s going to be much more of an art than a science.
Why is it that most business plans never really come to life? Why are almost all of them full of rancid corporate-speak, while the futures they describe never see the light of day?
When it comes to product launch planning, I think that these types of plans are not worth the time it takes an entreprenuer to write them. It’s an exercise that we’re taught we should do because “that’s what successful businesses do”.
A standard business plan also tends to be dead (as in the opposite of alive and breathing). It’s almost as if the feeling is that once it’s written it’s signed sealed and decided, this is the way it will be done, no room for the ever changing, innovating, and 180 degree shifts that are a big part of every entrepreneurial venture. Besides, it took so darn long to write the thing and we’ve already factored in any future possibilities. Otherwise what was the point of crafting it in the first place?
It’s hardly surprizing that traditional business plans have these characteristics. Analytical, thoroughly researched, complete, all-knowing and decisive. These are the character traits of a “smart” business. Ironically, they’re also the reason why these types of plans wind up on a shelf somewhere, only to be taken down at some point in the future with comments like “whatever happened to that idea? ……I remember when we planned to do” popping up.
Traditional business plans simply don’t work. Certainly not for inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses bringing innovative, new products to market. There’s no life, creativity, inspiration, or energy in them. Any plan that assumes it knows what the future holds and ‘takes into account’ all possible change and contingency is a loony plan. In fact, it’s quite likely the ‘future’ it descibed was already obsolete by the time the ink dried on the page.
But there IS a type of plan that DOES work.
Chances are it will look exactly like it’s old, decrept cousin described above. In fact, you may not be able to tell them apart at first glance. However, that’s where the similarities end and there are some BIG differences between them!
First of all, the business plan that will work is one that comes from a place of feeling the emotion of your vision. The emoitions that you, your employees and your clients will feel once your vision has been achieved. Coming from this position, all the insuing logic and calculations will actually mean something.
The business plan that works will assume that you can’t possibly know the future (duh!) and that you won’t be able to predict the kind of change that will happen next year, much less five years from now. This plan has it’s feet on the ground, it’s more humble and knows that it’s existence does not insure that what’s planned will actually come to pass. Thus, it tolerates the reality of change and more than than that, it builds change in as an important factor that will guide the plan to fruition.
With a crystal clear vision and a business plan that adjusts to the world as things change, you will have the tools you need to lead and direct your business to success!
When you stop and ask yourself what it takes to grow your business and how you can possibly lead when the future is always changing and is so uncertain, remember one thing:your vision must be the one thing that is certain.
That’s really all your business plan is: a statement of your vision and a description of the main strategies and tactics that you’ll use to make your vision come true (knowing that your methods and strategies will likely change as time goes on).
Here are some takeaways that might help you in creating a plan that is sure to come to fruition:
•Begin with your vision. What is important to you about this venture?
If you feel passionate about your plan it will serve you much better.
•Realize the planning process is an art more than it is a science
Like a musician writing a great song, you don’t have to write the plan, the plan will write itself through you if you let it. Of course you should use all the intellectual knowledge you have, but at the end of the day, even your best work will be guess work, so lighten up.
•Bake change into your plan
Think of your plan as a map. There are usually several different ways to get to the same final destination so think of your plan as a series of steps in the right direction, and then welcome the chance to revise, add to, or develope short cuts as needed, when your instinct and the market tells you that’s the right thing to do.
• Treat your plan like it’s alive!
You wouldn’t neglect a living thing in your care. Same too with your plan. Pull it out from time to time, evaluate it, question your assumptions, apply the knowledge you’ve pciked up in the interm, and don’t be afraid to change it when needed!
If you have questions about how to write a killer plan for launching your new product idea I’d love to hear your questions in the comments section below. Or if you think my take on it is total rubbish I’d also love to hear your opinions and coments so please sound below.
Tags: Manufacturing Products, Product Manufacturing