So much emphasis goes onto the importance of business planning however in my experience this matters very little to a start-up business (Unless it is raising capital).
I have seen businesses start out with complex financial modeling, forecasts, projections and schedules, and big ticks in all the boxes from the Government Agencies who supposedly know something about starting-up. Despite all the planning they fail hard and fail fast.
I would actually go so far as to say that the best entrepreneurs I know are quite bad at putting business plans together and tend to write notes on scraps of paper more often than they write detailed plans.
So what is the key then… I believe it is Entrepreneurial Teams.
Small groups of people who have an amazing ability to pull things together under all sorts of conditions. They get sales in the door, deliver upon the promises of the business, keep costs down, start early, finish late, communicate powerfully and stand strong under pressure.
If you give an entrepreneurial team a basic idea they will find a way to create a model that works. If you give a model that works to a poor team they will find a way to create some good forecasts and projections that explain their dismal effort.
A great team will take a simple idea like “a sandwich shop” and make it into Pret a Mange, whereas a poor team can turn a great idea into an epic flop.
So who would be some good people to have around an entrepreneurial team?, These are some of the most valuable people I’ve always had when starting up…
1. A graphic designer – They can create your sales forms, business cards, bang up a web site and make a tiny business look respectable.
2. A good sales guy – Genuine, likable and can still ask that tough question “Would you like to pay with Credit Card or Cash”
3. An office Wiz – Organised, flexible, frugal, detail orientated
4. A mentor – Outside the business, successful, wise, been around the block and had few blood noses, available for late night chats over a drink.
5. A visionary – big picture focused, good at delegating, hard working and can communicate the vision of the business and bring in new partnerships.
Another view from Mike Southon (Author of the Beermat Entrepreneur) says you can start a great team with just a few people. In his book he talks about having the 3 “cornerstones” to a business; The Sales Cornerstone, The Delivery Cornerstone and the Finance Cornerstone. With sales delivery and finance covered a small team of three can get a business well on its way.