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Lean Business Planning

Get what you want from your business

Lean business planning simple but powerful way to get what you want from your business. Get focused, grow faster, and adjust to change. A lean business plan is an easy and practical way to align strategy, tactics, milestones, assumptions, and essential cash flow without the fuss of a full business plan.

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Looking for Investment? Understand Startup Valuation

How much equity do I have to give to angel investors? If you’re a startup founder looking for angel investment, you need to understand valuation. It’s a buzzword that people use in other contexts, too, which adds to the confusion. But it’s ultimately what determines how much of your company your investors will get, and...

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Muhammad Ali and Courage of Conviction

Muhammad Ali died last week. Most everybody knows about his having been, vocally, “the greatest.” And he was as great as he claimed, and not just for how much his atheltic talent and hard work, not just for how much he changed an otherwise dreary sport, and not just for his brazen, charismatic, unconventional, and thoroughly...

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Important Pitch Lesson: the Best Business Plans Change

My favorite moment in a recent business plan contest: The entrepreneurs put up a projected income slide. One of the judges commented that what was on the slide was different from what he saw in the business plan. The entrepreneur immediately answered “no, of course not, that was an earlier iteration.” Business Plans Change. They...

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Rant: The Insidious Power of Political Code Phrases

We all use language as weapons and we’re victims of political code phrases that manipulate and distort. One classic example is the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist. Or the battle of pro-life vs. pro-choice. What does “Wall Street” mean these days? We speak in codes and use words as weapons.  And I ask...

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If Your Idea is Any Good It Will Be Copied

Good ideas get copied. Yes, you can read all over the web how to protect your idea. And people are recommending patents, trademarks, copyright, all of which you should do whenever you can. People also recommend contract-like non-disclosure and non-compete agreements too, which is sometimes good advice, sometimes impractical. But eventually all good ideas get...

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Does Business Education Stifle Creativity

Business Education vs. Creativity Does business education stifle innovation and creativity? You probably already know Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk, from 2006, Do Schools Kill Creativity? It’s one of the five or so most viewed and most discussed TED talks. His basic idea is that school focus too much on the academic, not enough on other...

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Business Planning for the ‘Lean Startup’

Nothing related to startups should be carved in stone. Best practices can be useful but are best taken as suggestions, not rules. So I’m troubled to see some of the “lean startup” advocates get into the codification business. I very much respect lean startup thought leaders Eric Ries and Steve Blank and the methodology they popularized at the end...

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Drive a Market Analysis with Stories Instead of Numbers

Do you need to prove a market to investors or bank loan managers? More than ever, good market analysis lives on stories, not numbers. The difference between 10 and 20 million people, as prospects, is minimal. A story of real market need, a solution that a lot of people want, is way better. If you...

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Wait, What? But I Don’t Have a Slide Deck. Speaking Off the Cuff

This is a very useful talk by Matt Abrahams of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, on how to optimize when you get to speak on the cuff, and don’t have time to prepare, organize, or create the slide deck. It’s almost an hour long, and a privilege to be able to watch. It was originally part...

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Memorial Day, Draft Lottery, Reality TV, Flags

It seems like it often rains on Memorial Day where I live, in Western Oregon. not today though; it’s bright and beautiful. From my house, across a small valley, through the tall trees, I can see the flags on a cemetery on the other hill. A lot of the graves have flags today. I’m thinking about the flags....

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Planning Principle: Do Only What You’ll Use

Efficient business in general means avoiding waste, doing only what has value. Therefore the right form for your business plan is the form that best serves your business purpose. Furthermore, for the vast majority of business owners, the business purpose of planning is getting what you want from the business – setting strategy and tactics,...

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The CBD Ingredient of Marijuana Offers New Business Opportunities

As states move toward legalized marijuana, most of the fuss so far is about pot as recreational drug, all of which has to do with the THP ingredient, the key to the marijuana high. But marijuana also contains another ingredient, CBD, which doesn’t generate a high, but may offer interesting health benefits as a happy...

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Define Your Market By Strategic Intersection

Sometimes segmentation itself – dividing a market into meaningful segments – is strategy. I knew a consultant who divided potential small business clients up according to their decision-making process. Small businesses divided into a range that varied from the seat-of-the-pants autocratic owners, on one extreme, to the consensus-with-the-team owners, on the other extreme. And I...

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Startups and Business Owners Will Thank Me for Posting This Debits and Credits Video

Business owners, startup founders: Do you know debits and credits? If so, cool, you know why I’ve posting this here as my Friday video. And if not, do yourself a favor and stick with this post and this video for a few minutes. You’ll be glad you did. It’s 13 minutes. If you go through...

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Startup Advice: Don’t Let Life Get Lost in the Shuffle

The guy seems callous, selfish, as he dismisses his wive, lover, or child, with frustration. “Don’t you get it?” he asks. “Don’t you know I’m trying to build a business here?” And sometimes there’s the variation, “I’m doing this for you.” And of course there are lots of other versions. Do you recognize that scene,...

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Lean Plan and the Business Model Canvas

Early this month I tweeted out my recent post on business planning as dashboard and GPS. #smallbiz Owners: planning, not #businessplan Lean Business Plan as Dashboard https://t.co/qECGn2CSTm pic.twitter.com/IGyowg9DnI — Tim Berry (@Timberry) May 3, 2016 Which prompted this response, from Antony Upward: @Timberry agree – any updates on how business modelling fits into this from...

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Productivity Tip: Walking Meetings. In the Park.

File this one under the general category of things business owners can do to preserve physical and mental health, despite the rigors of running a business. It goes along with getting regular exercise, and shutting down every so often out of range of devices. Do as many meetings as you can walking, instead of sitting....

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Planning Is Telling Stories and Making Them Come True

You could call this synchronicity. A few years ago I was reading Seth Godin’s All Marketers Are Liars at about the same time that I caught Harvey Cox talking about the power of stories as truth telling in all major religions. I paused to think about the importance of stories in so many different modes...

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10 Ways to Tell You Are Not a Leader

Everybody always agrees with you. Because they don’t. They’re lying to you. And it’s your fault they are, because you make them. You talk more than you listen. Nobody who works for you owns anything by themselves. And I mean ownership as owning a task, having responsibility, being empowered to operate, make decisions, and –...

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This is Your Brain on Stories

Fascinating research here summarized by neuroscientist Uri Hasson, on how our brains become aligned when we hear the same story. He researches the basis of human communication, and experiments from his lab reveal that even across different languages, our brains show similar activity, or become “aligned,” when we hear the same idea or story. This...

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Friday Video: Kauffman Center on Myths of Entrepreneurship

Several things that many people take for granted about entrepreneurship aren’t really true, according to this three-minute video offered by the Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurship. It starts with a reminder that it isn’t small business that drives the US economy’s growth of jobs, but rather new business. Startups. And my personal favorite, around 1:40, the...

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