To set their new businesses up for success, first-time founders have countless things to consider, decide upon and execute. So it should come as no surprise that in the excitement of launching their own company, they often inadvertently overlook key elements during the planning stage.
There are some crucial things that first-time founders often forget to include in their business plans. Below, 14 members of Forbes Coaches Council discuss some of these aspects and how missing them can affect a business going forward.
1. Scenario Planning
Many founders need to balance excitement with the discipline of running the business. Frequently, business plans exclude scenario planning. By including several scenarios (higher growth than expected, projects that take longer than expected and so on), the business will be better resourced and risk mitigated so that it can execute with more predictability. – Evan Roth, Roth Consultancy International, LLC.
2. The Culture
The culture is often forgotten. There’s no better time to establish what the organization’s culture is going to be than from the very beginning. Culture truly does eat strategy. A strong and healthy culture (preferably one that is customer-centric) has many benefits, not the least of which is a great experience for employees, and then for customers. – Annette Franz, CX Journey Inc.
3. Product Market Fit
Founders’ vision and purpose are often fueled by a challenge or obstacle they’ve experienced or witnessed. Their ideas are often born with the intention of making an experience less difficult for others in the same boat. This is great! But it does not provide a hall pass for product market fit. If the market doesn’t need it, it will not succeed. “Prove it or pivot” needs to be a founder’s mantra. – Janine Davis, Evolution
4. How You’ll Scale
First-time founders are often caught up in the excitement and sometimes miss certain key considerations going forward. One such area that I have often seen in advising entrepreneurs is not giving proper thought and detail to how they will scale. What organizational and structural changes will need to occur, how and when, and who do they have in mind to help lead? These answers are critical in helping to get properly funded. – Ash Varma, Varma & Associates
5. An Integrated Personal And Business Brand
Building an integrated personal and business brand from day one is essential. There are many reasons for this, and a common response is that (due to costs and what not) you can do that later. My experience says to do it from the start. The tangible results will be a clear purpose and culture, superior visibility and recognition in the market from the start. The bottom line is that it increases your perceived value! – Jon Michail, Image Group International
6. What Customers Really Want
Overlooking what those who buy your services or products really want out of the experience is the beginning of the end for new entrepreneurs. The intersection between a founder’s great ideas and what the market is buying is where to build real relationships to understand how to collaborate, co-create and serve. Help employees experience the joy of helping customers succeed and build from there. – Jessica Hartung, Treelight Leadership
7. A Plan To Hire And Retain The Right People
First-time founders need to have a plan about how they will hire the right people and keep them with the organization. This means taking a good look at the kind of culture they would like to cultivate and putting the tools in place, such as training and development opportunities, mentorship programs and community initiatives. – Michael Timmes, Insperity
8. A Personal Strategic Plan To Prevent Burnout
In addition to a business plan, founders must also design a personal strategic plan to ensure that they don’t burn out. They should answer three questions to do this: What will I do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to support my well-being? Who can support me and keep me accountable for meeting these goals? How does it support my business? Founders owe this to both themselves and their businesses. – Randi Braun, Something Major
9. The Voice Of The Customer
First-time founders often forget to continually listen to customers. A major risk factor for founders (and any top executive) can be to fall so in love with their product or service that they stop listening to the customers they are trying to serve, believing that they have it figured out rather than inviting their stakeholders to be part of the journey. Leading with inquiry rather than advocacy is the path to sustained success. – Craig Dowden, Craig Dowden & Associates
10. A Solid Strategy For Cash Flow
Many first-time founders overlook developing a solid strategy for cash flow. Mapping out the revenue and expense schedules to establish a cash-positive position is really important to the health of the business. The planning process should include outlining procedures to ensure the revenue is coming in before investments or expenses go out, as well as what to do when there is a gap. – Lindsay Miller, Reverie Organizational Development Specialists
11. The Positioning And Value Proposition
Founders are clear about the product, pricing and place of their business. What may not be apparent to them might be the positioning and value proposition. Answering this question allows founders to figure out the relevance of the company’s existence and why it matters in the envisaged shape and form. It is about the niche they wish to capture and why their potential customers should pay attention. – Thomas Lim, Singapore Public Service, SportSG
12. Checks And Balances
Checks and balances are key. Often, founders are so invested in their ideas and plans they overlook the importance of a trusted sounding board. Whether a board of directors or an advisory board, outside parties can see what the founder may not. Have regular meetings leading up to the launch and walk through the plan step by step in outline format. Be open to hearing the feedback and adjusting accordingly. – Deborah Hightower, Deborah Hightower, Inc.
13. An Exit Strategy
One thing first-time founders might overlook in the excitement of getting their big idea off the ground is their exit strategy—both when and how. Taking this into account anticipates the question from potential investors should they consider raising funds. It also helps the founder shape the business so that it’s not overly dependent on them, which will make it easier to scale in the future. – Gabriella Goddard, Brainsparker Global
14. Health And Wellness Initiatives For Yourself
Health and wellness initiatives are crucial things first-time founders often forget to include in their business plans. Self-care is critical when launching and growing a business; if the founder is ill due to stress-related factors or other illnesses, the company may be in jeopardy. Plans should include scheduled time off, health insurance and coaching to maintain a balanced perspective. – Cathy Lanzalaco, Inspire Careers LLC