Creativity and innovation are the tools that are used to build great business plans to succeed in today’s marketplace. Plans driven by creativity are bound to succeed; at least is bound to move to the next step. Innovative ideas generate first in our mind, which on being triggered by creative urge, translate into opportunities. Quite a few of such opportunities lead to businesses or more popularly startups. However, a high percentage of startups fail within five years, forcing entrepreneurs to renege. Why does it happen? What are the key factors to these failures? How can they be prevented? Thomas Edison after failing for almost thousandth time was asked by his assistant; when will you give up!! Edison replied- these failures motivate me as they have enabled me to learn thousand ways which won’t work. He succeeded in making an electric bulb finally and the rest is history.
So, the point here is to have an innovative business idea that one believes will work and then gauge through operational and strategic possibilities and challenges before moving with the plan. As is said ‘well begun is half done’. I always feel that entrepreneurs have a tendency to move too fast with their innovation and they reroute mid-way. This leads to confusion to the team and leaves the organization to adapt in jiffy at times. While some team members cope up and manage the change properly, several others fail to effectively manage it and crumble, adversely affecting the enterprise. This is something like trying to make an omelette and ending up with scrambled eggs. We must plan to stay on track to succeed. Entrepreneurs who had their vision unaltered by seasonality and aberrations succeeded in making it big with their startups in their respective industries.
I would suggest fresh entrepreneurs/ beginners to pass through the acid test below which is far from perfect but a good starting point to check if their plan is on the right track.
Who am I– Does the business plan has a part of you? Does it have your personality embedded in it? The plan should reflect your personality. If you are not a gym freak, don’t sell proteins. If you are not a voracious reader, don’t be a book seller. If you are not a sportsperson, don’t have start up using business ideas from sports. Maximum business plans are stung by mediocrity because they are run by profit intent more than passion. As the business plan and entrepreneur’s personality don’t match, the law of diminishing returns applies and soon catches up to start eating in the profits. So, do ask yourself who am I before working on a business plan. A plan which is driven by passion is bound to commence as a perfect startup on the right note and doesn’t run out of gas in the longer term.
Why am I doing this– am I tired of job? Is the boss nasty? I belong to some other planet? This is not what I wanted to be? I want to earn a lot of money? If others can, why can’t I? These are the questions which are either driven by ego or by frustration. They create an adrenaline rush which forces a person to devise a business plan quickly and takes a toll on their perseverance. One must remember the phrase ‘there is no short cut to successes’. So, before we start moving on the road of entrepreneurship and startups, we must clearly identify the purpose of opening up a new business or getting self-employed or else we end up in the vicious circle of job and entrepreneurship.
Will the plan work– This is the most important parameter of the acid test. The business plan is the most crucial things to startups and most of the business plans are initiated on a napkin in a coffee shop, during breaks between meetings, one to one discussion while sitting in a lounge bar, break-out sessions or while engaging with a friend or colleague over a game of snooker. There are many more possible venues where the plan might have originated but the process one takes to get them materialized is extremely crucial. The plan has a chance to take off if the structured plan is ready in a week or two and necessary operational intricacies are worked out within a few months. If the intensity remains the same throughout the initial months without occasional troughs in motivation, the plan seems viable and achievable. It is important to remember that job, time, work life balance, money etc are not the bottlenecks to the process of effective start up. The real bottleneck is the lack of self-belief and lack of perseverance which leads to leaking out of innovative zeal and positive risk taking attitude.
Ownership of success and failure– This is the last step to test the beginning of a start-up. An entrepreneur must have the courage to share the success with others and bear the load of failure on his/her own shoulders. There would be numerous people during the process of developing a plan and effectively setting up a start-up or business who would like to own success and as their contribution can’t be undermined, the success is bound to be shared among all the stakeholders. As an entrepreneur, the hard truth is that if the venture fails to take off or fails after taking off, one has to own the responsibility and the failure would be credited to the entrepreneur. History suggests that many entrepreneurs have taken the failures in positive frames, learnt lessons from them and persisted with efforts after suitable amendments in their plans, leading to a successful enterprise.
This acid test is just a beginning to a never ending journey of entrepreneurial search of satisfaction that matches the passion and ignites the innovative and creative powers to come up with something special and at times exceptional. History has eloquently quoted of great many entrepreneurs who have paved the way for the succeeding generations by providing guidelines to reinvent the lost techniques, invent new ones and rekindle innate talents to fulfill their dreams and passions through creativity, innovation and sharing.
Related link from Inc. on most Innovative startups of 2014