Friday, 29 January 2010

Gary Vaynerchuk: Being Willing To Adapt And Change

Gary Vaynerchuk is a great advocate for being reactionary in business; willing and able to adapt and change. Here’s his take on #Unplan from the pages of his recent book ‘Crush It! Why Now Is The Time To Cash In On Your Passion’:

“Nothing in life ever goes exactly the way you think it will, and that goes for all of your carefully planned entrepreneurial dreams and goals…. You’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs aren’t good at adjusting to changing environments, and it’s a major reason why so many businesses don’t achieve their full potential”.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

John Kay: Oblique Approaches Are Most Effective In Difficult Terrain

Financial Times columnist and economist John Kay’s new book ‘Obliquity’ argues that most goals are best achieved through an indirect, rather than direct route i.e. the best route from A to B is almost never a straight line. This resonates with my experience in business, where randomness and serendipity are often more significant contributors than detailed plans in reaching goals. John says:

“Strange as it may seem, overcoming geographic obstacles, winning decisive battles or meeting global business targets are the type of goals often best achieved when pursued indirectly. This is the idea of Obliquity. Whether overcoming geographical obstacles, winning decisive battles or meeting sales targets, history shows us that oblique approaches are the most successful, especially in difficult terrain”.

Monday, 25 January 2010

SXSW session/ Hear the preview podcast

Our session ‘How To Unplan Your Business’ is now confirmed on the South By South West Interactive schedule for 5pm on Saturday March 13 at the Austin Convention Center. You can hear - and download - a podcast of David and I talking about the session at the SXSW website here. *

*this link doesn't seem to work in IE, but does with Firefox, Safari etc

Friday, 22 January 2010

Learn Under Fire

Scott D. Gerber is's Young Entrepreneur columnist and he wrote a column recently with 10 pieces of advice he wished someone had given him before he launched his first venture. His tip to ‘Learn under fire’ really resonated with me and the notion of #Unplan. There’s been such emphasis on the importance of business schools, management courses and long-term planning that aspiring entrepreneurs end up with their heads in spreadsheets and presentations and nowhere near the trenches. I worked on many new ventures throughout my career and the culture in most organisations was about producing a bunch of revenue projections rather than testing an idea in the market first. Here’s Scott’s take on it:

“No business book or business plan can predict the future or fully prepare you to become a successful entrepreneur. There is no such thing as the perfect plan. There is no perfect road or one less traveled. Never jump right into a new business without any thought or planning, but don’t spend months or years waiting to execute. You will become a well-rounded entrepreneur when tested under fire. The most important thing you can do is learn from your mistakes--and never make the same mistake twice.” *

Scott D.Gerber, CEO of Gerber Entertainment, a brand development and venture management company.

* This extract is copyright

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Joe Oliver: Living The Unplanned Life

“I've run my business for over three years now and have lived exactly what you’re describing. Having never wrote a business plan I have been lambasted for my lack of 'planning'. However life is about surfing the good and bad waves that happen and as such my inertia of planning has allowed the business to be flexible enough to weather every kind of storm, whilst also allowing me to make split second decisions about holidays and new markets. Viva un-planning!”

Joe Oliver, Founder of Bash Creations, an eco-entertainment consultancy in London

Monday, 18 January 2010

Martijn Sjoorda: Don't Become Institutionalised

Martijn Sjoorda is Partner in Fresh Orange and Dialogic Leadership in the Netherlands, where he helps organisations become more effective, managing change be developing people. His take on business planning is that it should never be a procedure; his experience is that once it becomes institutionalised, it doesn’t get results. Instead Martijn advocates you should have a dot on the horizon that you are passionate about and focused on, but should constantly revisit how you get there. 

His other advice is: “don’t believe the bullshit in the spreadsheets”

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Why Brian Halligan Doesn't Believe In Business Plans

There was a great piece in the Wall St Journal last month called 'Should Start-Up Founders Forget About Business Plans?' It profiled start-up Hubspot which raised funds without having a formal business plan. In the video below of his address at the Puerto Rica Venture Forum, founder and CEO of Hubspot Brian Halligan argues “it’s a fool’s errand” for start-up founders to create a business plan. Brian says: 

“When I was a venture capitalist investing in companies, I never actually read a business plan, so don’t even waste your time with a business plan”.

Instead Brian advocates that you keep things real simple by formulating a 1-page executive summary and a 10-slide PowerPoint presentation. Great, simple, effective advice.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Gary Vaynerchuk: The Reactionary Businessman

When he was in London last year I spent some time in the back of a car with Gary Vaynerchuk. Here’s our conversation about Gary’s attitude to planning: “A five year plan is impossible in a world where what five year represents is so different than it used to be”. Gary’s answer is to be open to opportunities and be a reactionary businessman.

What Is A Plan Anyway?

"A series of steps to be carried out or goals to be accomplished"

There are plans that take months (years even) and plans that are bit a more rapid than that. The business plan for Hotmail was written overnight by one of the founders Sabeer Bhatia. It was enough to secure finances to hire programmers to create the webmail service that was later sold for $400 million to Microsoft. Others are not quite so quick; taking management teams, analysts and advisors months producing financial projections, pie charts and graphs.

But if you don't require investment to get your idea up and running then maybe you only need the time it takes to drink a cup of hot tea to get your plan down on paper?

Monday, 11 January 2010

Preethi Nair: Taking One Step Towards The Dream

Preethi Nair runs a business called Kiss The Frog that uses the principles of storytelling to inspire, enable and communicate change in business. Her clients include MTV, Lego and Deutsche Bank. She’s also a successful novelist. Preethi explains that rather than having a structured business plan she has a vision of what she wants to achieve and takes steps towards that dream taking into account factors like serendipity and coincidence.