Starting a new venture?

Starting a new Venture? What to do before Day One.

From someone who has started, built up, and sold five companies.

The very first thing is to keep your capital in the bank. There are many ideas to contemplate and things to plan before you commence.

You not only need to plan for your venture, but pick a date in the future to aim for. A good date to start with is for five years hence.

The Plan: for where you want to be in five years time. Once you have that vision, you need to plan for where you want to be at year one, two, three, and four.

Once you feel you have set targets a little more optimistically than you think is practicable* (don’t worry, these will adjust as you go along) you need to plan where where you want to be three months, six months and nine months from the date you actually start your business.

Naturally, in the early days, this will be what I call “mickey mouse” plans but now comes the most important part. At the end of each month, take a couple of hours to adjust your plans all the way up to the five year date. This is most important as you pass each month, your five year plan will begin to take a realistic shape.

Here is an illustration to demonstrate this.

Imagine you are an airline pilot flying a jumbo jet from London to New York. That’s 3,000 miles. The pilot’s plan is to fly from Heathrow to Kennedy Airport. So, before taking off, he punches the co-ordinates into the aircraft’s computer. Most people think that’s it – he has nothing to do until he lands the plane. However, nothing can be further from the truth. All through the journey the aircraft gets air pressure and winds which take the plane off course, he has to readjust his plan almost every five minutes in order to arrives at his destination.

You only need to once a month!

So, yes, Planning is very important.

When I left the army I took three ideas with me. The first, which may show you why I consider planning so important is the 7 Ps, this is a British Army adage for Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. The meaning is crucial. Planning is a key part of launching and growing a successful business.

Hence the need to adjust all plans as you go along, as many things can happen to throw you off course. A court case, a twisted ankle, too much scotch, so adjustments need to be made as you persevere with your business plan.

There are two other army lessons I took to heart.

Reconnaissance: You need to study your area if you are not just going into Internet sales or mail order. If you are opening a shop, which side of the road is the heaviest for footfall, Shoppers do tend to have their favourite side of a street. If another sort of business, will you be having callers? If so, is your desired location well appointed with public transport? Is there plenty of parking for motorist clients?

So, yes, Reconnaissance is very important.

Logistics: If you are going out to sell to clients, are you going to have to travel? It’s better to have your sales areas on a long road so you can easily get to all your customers. If you need specific customers, map out your areas and divide them into four or six areas to be covered each week. Never five areas, as if you cover area C every Wednesday, and a good prospect is never in his office on a Wednesday, you’ll have to go out of your way if you need to speak to him.

My logistic experience: I was lucky. In 1964 I had a business in Oxford Street near Bond Street station. I was before my time as I hired out desk space, small offices and conference rooms (ten years before the idea became popular) and “automatic typing” for mailshots (five years before the term “word processors” was coined). On my office wall, I had a large map of the area and drew rings around my office at 500 yards, 1,000 yards and 1500 yards. In three years I never moved out of the first ring so could get to any client within minutes!

So, yes, logistics is very important.

* Setting targets

In life, with everything you do, if you set targets, you will normally reach between 50% to 80% of them. So if you set realistic targets you may possibly reach 80% of them. The secret is to be optimistic and set high targets so you may, eventually, reach the figures you are looking for.

I wish you every success in your endeavours.