Step 1: Do not waste time writing one it's useless
Step 2: Go get yourself a coffee
Step 3: Start building your business
For visa purposes, the government of Hong Kong is asking me for a business plan. I have never written a business plan and I would never write one by myself…
Never in my business life, have I asked for any institutional help, grants, loans... Or even tried to raise private cash. I am a bootstrapper, so I never had to write a business plan or any kind of thing like this!
When I saw the business plan on the list of the required things for the visa.
My first reaction was to scream “hell no, I would do anything but please forget about the Business plan”. 😂
My second one was to think about someone I could hire to write it for me!
A few days later a student from HEC sent me a message on Instagram asking me if I could hire her as my right arm for the summer.
I told her about this business plan and Valentine aKa Val joined us for a month this summer. (if you read this, thanks again for your work Val!)
She made me a good first draft that I had to finish and refine before sending it to the HK gov. This is what I did this weekend.
I know my business. I wrote something cool and not too optimistic but even myself I don’t trust the figures on the business plan...
The world we live in is not as nice as we thought it would be!
Actions speak louder than words
Based on my humble experience. Here are a few things that make business plans bullshit for early-stage businesses:
- We fucking can’t predict the future! The world is changing and we cannot control it! Ask all business owners if their Business plan and 3 years predictive P&L are saving them from the Covid 19 crisis. All the biggest growth enablers of my businesses have never been planned. They're the results of good adaptation and reaction to opportunities
- Tactics >> Strategy. As an early-stage business, we don’t need a business plan to define our strategy. We need a strategy when we have a big army and a lot of resources. When we only have an A-team or a gang of pirates, our only job is to strive for growth and be hungry. If you are into books Sun Tzu said: “strategy is about winning before the battle begins, while tactics are about striking at weakness” (More details about strategy vs tactics here)
- Focus on making cash and know our figures! A good thing that writing a business plan can bring us is to get to know your figures. Realize your costs and how much you need to sell to be sustainable is crucial for an entrepreneur. But Time is money, we don’t need to spend ages on a business plan to get to know our figures. Moreover when we are early stage founders we can define a first revenue/cost model in 15 min on a napkin while sipping a coffee. Defining prices is pretty simple, start low and always try to increase them. Iterate and at one moment you will find a good balance between our client’s feelings and margin! When I was a freelance I was making +10€ on my hourly rate on any new contracts I was selling. This led me to go from 20€ per hour to 150€ per hour haha
- Try, Refine, Try, Refine, Try, Refine… We would never find our business model, by writing it on paper. We will find it on the field by testing and refining our offer. Last week I argued with a prospect who asked me to build her a perfect product in one shot. I replied here, "If someone can build your perfect product in one shot. Whether he is a genius or he has some great luck. Personally, I am not lucky and even less of a genius! This is the same with business models and pretty much anything in life haha.
As you understand I am not a good friend with business plans. I much prefer to focus on what we can control, and being hungry, try to always do more, and strive for growth!
I hope you enjoyed this post, see you next week for the next one! And have a great week!
PS: Don’t take it personally if you are a CFO making business plans all day I still love you 😘