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BUSINESS FORUM continued from page 56
plan that is realistic. This is a worthwhile exercise for the company, too, to avoid wasting time and money to come to the same
conclusions years later.
I am taking this opportunity to let you know that I will only
be writing this column occasionally from this point forward. I
hope you will save this summary for future reference when and
if you decide to become an entrepreneur.
Feel free to write me at any time. I always respond promptly to
thoughtful questions relating to business or careers. I also encourage you to send me an e-mail (do it now!) to tell me what you like
and what you disagree with regarding what I have presented in
the past. Your feedback will be greatly appreciated because it can
bring pleasure to me as I sit in my rocking chair.
A reminder for
• Find a product idea within an industry you know well and
make use of your expertise to provide an initial competitive
advantage. Pursuing a “hot business idea” in an unfamiliar
industry is high-risk.
• It takes more than a breakthrough technology or a
useful product to succeed. You must also be able to
make a strong business case and develop a fnancing
plan that is consistent with your business development
strategy. Technical merit is not synonymous with
• Developing a detailed business plan is making a
simulation run of your business to enable you to refne
your strategy. You won’t be able to focus to make effcient
use of your energy and resources without going through
• Use solid marketing data to develop your business
plan and modify it as you gather new information. The
business plan is also an effective tool to communicate
your operating principles to your team.
• Keep your initial pitch succinct to pique investor interest,
not to swamp them with details to drown out the
salient features. Investors can and will ask for details in
subsequent meetings if they are interested.
• Inadequate fnancial support to reach the next signifcant
milestone is likely to become a fatal faw. Investors look for
validation to provide additional funding.
Company culture for success
• Getting the frst product to market is job one! The product
has to work well, and you can always refne and add
features in accordance with customer input.
• Provide a work environment where each employee can
self-actualize to perform to their full potential. That’s good
for the individual and good for the company.
Preparing for entrepreneurship
• On-the-job learning is the most effective way to gain
practical experience to run a business. Strive for technical
excellence and sharpen your entrepreneurial ability by
participating in sales and marketing.
• You have to be broadly knowledgeable, and know
what makes different businesses tick and what goes
on in different parts of the company when you make
Find a product idea within an industry
you know well and make use of your
expertise to provide an initial competitive
advantage. Pursuing a “hot business idea”
in an unfamiliar industry is high-risk.