Category Archives: Lean Business Plan

Planning Principle: Good Business Planning Empowers Accountability

It’s easier to be friends with your coworkers than to manage them well. Every small-business owner suffers the problem of management and accountability. Good business planning empowers accountability.

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Good business planning sets clear expectations and then follows up on results. It compares results with expectations. People on a team are held accountable only if management actually does the work of tracking results and communicating them, after the fact, to those responsible.

This is the fourth of my five principles of business planning. The first is do only what you’ll use. The second is that planning is continuous process, not just a plan. The third is that planning helps manage change and is not voided by change.

Good business planning develops metrics

Metrics are part of the problem. As a rule, we don’t develop the right metrics for people. Metrics aren’t right unless the people responsible understand them and believe in them. Will the measurement scheme show good and bad performances?

Remember, people need metrics. People want metrics. You and your business need metrics.

Then you have to track. That’s where the lean business plan creates a management advantage, because tracking and following up is part of its most important pieces. Set the review schedules in advance, make sure you have the right participants for the review, and then do it.

Good business planning develops expectations and feedback

In good teams, the negative feedback is in the metric. Nobody has to scold or lecture, because the team participated in generating the plan and the team reviews it, and good performances make people proud and happy, and bad performances make people embarrassed. It happens automatically. It’s part of the planning process. Besides, guilt and fear tactics are the worst kind of fake management.

And you must avoid the crystal ball and chain. Sometimes — actually, often — metrics go sour because assumptions have changed. Unforeseen events happen. You manage these times collaboratively, separating the effort from the results. Your team members see that and they believe in the process, and they’ll continue to contribute.

Planning Principle: Continuous Process, Not Just a Plan

Plan Run Review ReviseDon’t think of planning as just a plan that you do once. Planning done right is a process of continuous improvement. Keep your business plan always fresh and current. Never finish a business plan, heave a sigh of relief, and congratulate yourself that you’ll never have to do that again. Don’t use it once and throw it away. You don’t store it in a drawer to gather dust.

This is the second of my give main planning principles. I posted the first a few weeks ago as planning principle: do only what you’ll use.

With good planning process the plan is always up to date

This kind of regularly updated planning is clearly more useful for real business than a more static elaborate business plan. I refer to it as lean planning because with this kind of planning for management, the plan is smaller and streamlined so that you can update it easily and often, at least once a month. Your lean plan is always current, always being tracked and reviewed, frequently revised, and is a valuable tool for managing.

You run your business according to priorities. Your tactics match your strategy. Your specific business activities match your tactics. And accountability is part of the process. People on the team are aware of the performance metrics, milestones, and progress or lack of it. Things get done.

Furthermore, even back in the old days of the elaborate business plan, it was always true that a good business plan was never done. I’ve been pointing that out since the 1980s, in published books, magazine articles, and blog posts. That’s not new with lean business planning. It’s just more important, and more obvious, than ever before.

A business plan is not a single thing.

Don’t think you can find, or buy, a pre-written business plan. You don’t do it and forget it, and you don’t find a business plan or have one written for you. If you work with an expert, consultant, coach, or business plan writer, realize that in real use a business plan lasts only a few weeks before it needs to be reviewed and revised. So your value added from the expert has to help you in the long term. If you don’t know your plan intimately, then you don’t have a plan.

10 Myths vs. Reality on Business Plans and Startup Investment

I gather from a stream of emails I’ve received that there are a lot of misconceptions on the relationship between a business plan and getting seed money and/or angel investment. So here’s a list of reality checks to apply to all those lists.

  1. business managementBusiness plans are necessary but not sufficient. Even a great business plan won’t get any investment for any startup. Investors invest in the team, the market, the product-market fit, the differentiators, and so forth. And they evaluate the risk-return relationship based on progress made, traction achieved, and market validations. The plan gets information the investors need; it doesn’t sell anything. One of the most serious misconceptions is the idea that the quality of the writing and presentation of a business plan is going to influence its ability to land investment. Sure, if you consider the extremes, a poorly written plan is evidence of sloppy work. If it’s hard to find the important information, that’s a problem. But barring extremely bad plans, what ends up being good or bad is the content – the market, product, team, differentiators, technology, progress made, milestones met, and so forth – not the document.
  2. All businesses should be using business planning regularly. They should have a plan to set strategy and tactics, milestones, metrics, and responsibilities, and to project and manage essential numbers including sales, spending, and cash; and they should keep that plan alive with regular (at least monthly) review and revisions. Business plans are for business planning, and management; not just for investors.
  3. Nobody has ever invested in a business plan, unless you count what they pay business plan writers and consultants. People invest in the business, not the plan. Just like people buy the airplane or car, not the specifications sheet. The plan is a collection of messages about past, present, and future of the business. It’s past facts and future commitments. People invest in milestones met.
  4. The normal process goes from idea, to gathering a team, doing a plan, and executing on the early steps to develop prototype, wireframes, designs, and ideally traction and market validation. And the plan is constantly rewritten as progress is made.
  5. Investors come in only after a lot of initial work is already done. 
  6. The startup process does not – repeat, NOT – go from idea to plan to funding and only then, execution. You don’t go for funding with just a plan. That’s way too early.
  7. Investors do read business plans. Regarding the myth that investors don’t read business plans, I’m in a regional group of angel investors, we’ve had maybe 80 people as members during the eight years since it started, and the vast majority of us would never even consider investing in a company without seeing the business plan.
  8. But investors don’t read all the business plans they get; and they often reject deals without reading the plan. To reconcile this point with the previous, note that investors read the plans during due diligence, as a way to dive into the details of a startup they are interested in. They don’t read them as a screening mechanism. So a lot of startup founders who don’t get investment are telling the truth when they say investors didn’t read their plan. Investors rejected them based on summary information or pitch.
  9. On that same point, the process with angel investment today starts with an introduction or submission through proper channels (gust.com, angellist.co, incubators, 500 startups, and so forth). Investors screen deals based on summary information in the profile or a summary memo. The deals that get through that filter will be invited to do a pitch in person. Those that still look interesting, after the pitch, will go into due diligence, with is a lot of further study of the business, customers, market, legal documentation, and the business plan.
  10. Business plans are never good for more than a few weeks. They need constant revision. Things are always changing. People don’t expect the big full formal plan document anymore, not even investors. Keep a plan lean, review it often, revise it as necessary, and use it to run your business. Use it to steer the business and keep making course corrections. That’s what a plan is supposed to be these days.

5 Management Benefits of Lean Business Planning

Don’t think of a business plan as a formal document that’s hard to do, useful only for startups, bank loan applications, and seeking investment. Think of it as lean business planning that’s just lists and tables and is vital for optimizing business management. You plan, run, review, and revise. It’s a process. A constant cycle.

1. Manage strategy

Business ManagementStrategy is focus. Most small businesses have trouble setting and maintaining focus on priorities because there’s always a new crisis interfering, or a new opportunity, real or perceived, distracting them like a shiny new thing.

Not that opportunity is bad. But a lot of the shiny new things that seem like opportunities are just distractions. Pursuing them dilutes the focus and weakens the business. Trying to do everything is too often a quick path to failure.

What to do? Manage strategy with planning. Set strategic priorities thoughtfully and use a simple planning process to manage them. Have a monthly plan review. Take time to reflect on results and assumptions and change and adapt carefully.

That starts with a plan that sets the key points of strategy. Make it a lean plan, just bullet points, extreme summaries. You do it for yourself, not outsiders. So keep it simple. And then add the entire lean planning process for regular review and revision.

2. Align strategy and tactics

It happens so often. You set back to develop strategy, but get back into the routine and don’t follow up with real tactics, real business decisions and activities, to execute strategy. For example, the computer store decides to focus on small business owners who appreciate service, but continues to advertise low prices, doesn’t insist on installing every system, and doesn’t offer good training and frequent upgrade reminders. The tactics don’t match the strategy.

To manage strategic alignment, do a lean business plan that lists tactics in simple bullet points. Tactics include pricing, channels, messaging, product and service mix, and so forth. Make sure the tactics execute the strategy.

Then review tactics and compare plan to actual results every month in a planning review meeting. Check strategic alignment as strategy, tactics, and assumptions change. Expect to revise often.

3. Manage execution

Thing of ongoing business management, and strategy and execution, as a process of taking steps towards goals. Goals include short- and medium-term goals you can call milestones. In your lean plan, you set the milestones you can see for the near future. You list important milestones for the team. You assign dates, deadlines, budgets, performance expectations, and responsibilities.

Then you manage progress towards milestones during the monthly lean plan review meetings. Bring up the milestone schedule, discuss progress, revise as necessary, and manage the ongoing flow from plan to meaningful activities to results. Review and revise as needed.

4. Manage people

People work better when objectives are clear and measurements are specific. People like to control their own performance numbers (also called metrics) so they can see their own progress towards goals and level of performance. Which would you rather have for yourself: an objective numerical goal you can see and share, or the subjective approval and review of your supervisor?

With lean planning, you have the regular review of expectations and results. It’s an easy forum for reviewing performance of team members, revising expectations, and applying both management and, where appropriate, peer pressure. Once a month you review results and compare them to expectations. Sometimes the plan was too ambitious and expectations too high, so you revise the goals. Sometimes the review turns up problems in execution and poor performance.

That’s where management comes in. Make expectations explicit, review results, and make people accountable for performance. All of which is built into a healthy planning process.

5. Manage cash

Cash flow is critical to a healthy business and it’s not always as simple as profits. Businesses that manage products and inventory can be profitable on paper but have all the working capital tied up in inventory. Businesses that sell to other businesses can be profitable on paper but have all their working capital tied up in Accounts Receivable, waiting for their business customers to pay their invoices.

A good lean planning process lays out expectations for money coming in and money going out to manage cash flow. Each money you have a plan vs. actual review to highlight developments, re-allocate spending as the need comes up, and make sure the cash flow is running as expected.

Conclusion: Planning is Management

Forget the myth of the big formal business plan that makes most business owners grateful they don’t have to have one. Instead, think of business planning as a simple lean business plan – bullets and tables for strategy, tactics, milestones, metrics, and essential projections – with a process that includes regular review and revision.

(Note: this post appeared first on the SBA Industry Word blog, as 5 Things Business Owners do Better with Lean Business Planning. This is a slightly modified version.) 

How to Start a Business Plan

MarketingHow do I start a business plan? It’s a common question. And you can find lots of definitive answers. People answer with outlines, prescriptions, and recipes. Unfortunately, most of these misunderstand how people are different, and the way they approach the business plan ought to reflect that difference.

Let me explain with some examples of how your own preferences might determine the best way to start your business plan. See if you fit with one of these general patterns:

  • Mission-driven. Some people tend to build the concepts first and go from there to the specifics. So they start with a general concept like a statement of purpose, often called mission. That’s a matter of words only, but it seems to work for some. The downside of this is that these are way too often just empty promise words, vague marketing hype, in which case they are pretty much a diversion, or waste of time. For more on this: How to Write a Mission Statement in 5 Easy Steps – Bplans Blog
  • Problem and solution. Starting with the problem the business solves, and how it solves it, can be a useful way to get going. These two are the core of strategy and market analysis. And don’t think of that problem too narrowly either. Many successful businesses address what people want – prestige, confidence, status – more than what they really need. For more on this: Don’t Just Describe Problem and Solution in Your Business Plan; Make People Care – Bplans Blog
  • Strategy and tactics. Strategy is focus: I recommend a simple framework that considers the interaction between your identity (unique differences, strengths, goals, etc.), your market market, and your business offering. Then add tactics to execute, aligned with the focus. For identity: Strategy Step 1: Understanding Identity. For market: Strategy Step 2: Market Focus. For the three factors together: How to Develop Your Business Strategy
  • Numbers first. I’m one of these. I prefer to develop the sales forecast first (How to Forecast Sales). Thinking about the sales forecast helps me to imagine the whole business, and to think about what will work and what won’t work. In fact, I often to the financial forecast all the way to cash flow, before working on the words and concepts. Numbers help me to think about the whole business. I’m sure I’m not the only one, but I’m also sure a lot of people prefer to do concepts first.

Conclusion: Get started. Get going. Do first whatever seems easiest, or most natural, to you.

Lean Business Plan: Form Follows Function

Your lean business plan is no more than what you need to run your business. In the beginning, it might be as simple as an elevator speech. Be able to talk through those key points: the customer story, what makes you unique, how you’re focusing and on what you’re focusing, and, if it comes to that, your close — what you want from whoever is listening. Form Follows Function

 

Or it might be a simple sales forecast, and perhaps, a burn rate in the very beginning because you know what you’re doing — maybe you’ve been doing it for years already and you don’t need to verbalize it right at this moment — and you’ll set those figures down and start tracking them.

Lean planning comes in many forms. Think of it as analogous to motion in athletics. In so many different sports, the winners practice economy of motion, repeated muscle memory. Another way to look at it: in design and mechanics, the fewer moving parts, the better. If you have to squint conceptually to see the key points, squint down on the elements you’ll be able to track and then revisit.

It’s not about the text, or the form of the thing, until that becomes related to the function. When you’re doing a business plan as part of a graduate business school class, then yes, it has to be complete and look good and read well; editing and format matter. When you’re doing a plan for an investment group that is going to pass it around among the partners, then it matters. But you don’t want to get bogged down in format when it’s just you and your spouse and you simply want to think through what’s required.

So the plan is a collection of concepts in the middle, surrounded by specifics that have to be done. The core of the plan is strategy and tactics, as simply as you can put them, just bullet points as reminders. Around the core you put a collection of milestones; numbers to be measured and tracked (lots of them are sales, expenses, and the like, but not all); task assignments and responsibilities for different people, dates and deadlines, budgets, and so on. That’s your plan.

From that core lean business plan, you spin off various outputs. You take the highest highlights of the plan and 60 seconds or so to explain it in an elevator speech. That’s one output. Or you write it all out carefully, and add supporting information about the market and the industry and the backgrounds of the management team, and it’s a plan document. Or you create a 20-minute 10-slide summary with PowerPoint or Keynote slides, and that’s a pitch presentation for potential investors. Or you create a cover letter or cover e-mail, about a page or so, along with a 5- to 10-page written summary, and that’s a summary memo. Or you do none of these, you simply keep that plan as a collection of bullet points, of picture financial projections, and a list of things to be done by whom and when and for how much money, and share it with your team. In that last case you don’t ever edit or polish it, or sweat the page headers and page footers or font size. You just use it to manage your company,

Notice that none of these outputs stands as something you do instead of the plan. And none of these outputs is really the plan. The plan exists at the core, and you create the outputs as needed.

With all of these various iterations and outputs, always keep assumptions on top, where you can see them for every review meeting. Minding the changing assumptions is one of the significant advantages of the plan-as-you-go approach over the more traditional methods.

I ran a business for years during which the plan was shared only between me and my wife, mostly, enhanced by sales forecasts and burn rate. During those formative years there was no need for anything else. When it was time for an elevator speech, either one of us could do it. When there was need for a written business plan — it came up first when we first set up the merchant account to be able to accept credit cards, in 1988 — then we settled down for a while and wrote it out as it was, conceptually, at that time. We always knew what we wanted to do, but we also knew our key assumptions, and we tracked them as they changed, and revised the plan. A lot of that was verbal, between two people.

As the business grew, the verbal plan with the forecast stopped working. Things became more complicated. Employees needed to know about the plan and join in its formation and then its implementation. So we moved it into bullet points on the computer, and tied those to forecasts, and began tracking in a group, in more detail.

We then began to do annual plans more formally, writing out chapters, and conducting review meetings every month. With each annual plan we’d go out and take a new fresh look at the market. We had people doing nothing but marketing, and they developed segmentations and forecasts and supporting information. It was part of their job.

Are you recognizing yourself somewhere along this line?

Eventually we wanted to bring in outside investment. That was during the dotcom boom when valuations were very high, so we thought it would be a good time to lock in the value with some cash out. We produced very formal plans every three months during that period.

The speech isn’t instead of the plan, and the pitch isn’t instead of the plan, but that doesn’t mean you plan or don’t plan if nobody outside your company is going to read about it. Your plan should always be there as the source of these outputs, so you’re ready to produce them when you need to.

Which Comes First: Plan or Pitch?

It’s not exactly the same as the chicken or the egg, but it has some similarities.

I get this question a lot lately, so I decided to take it here to my blog.

Don’t pitch a business without planning it first. That’s a lot like trying to film a movie without having a screenplay. You have to know what’s going to happen before you start.

And I do see people, websites, even some smart people and good websites, confusing the issue by presenting a pitch as if it were something you could do without having a plan. Sorry, bad idea.

Yes, you can summarize a business idea without detail. You can summarize a strategy. Maybe you can put up a picture of a business model, and focus on a target market, and narrow the business offering. And that’s certainly a useful exercise. But it’s just a concept piece, a rough sketch.

Before you have a pitch you simply must have a rough idea of estimated startup costs, sales, expenses, and cash flow. Without that you can’t possibly talk about scale, financial vital statistics, and feasibility. It’ s not that you accurately predict the future. It’s that without those basic numbers you really don’t know what the business is. They’re wrong, but they’re vital. They pull apart the relationship between sales, spending, profits, investment, and strategy. How many employees are needed? How much space? What kind of space? Does the marketing strategy match the target market and the focused business offering?

You should never, ever put a pitch in front of investors or bankers or bosses without having a plan behind it. Just ask yourself the questions your target audience will ask. Do you want to say “I don’t know” or “we haven’t figured that out yet?” Or would you rather say what your plan says.

And of course your plan will be a living, constantly changing plan. But don’t confuse flexibility with not having a plan. Flexibility is having a plan so you know how changing one assumption or variable effects all the others.

Special reminder: maybe a lot of the confusion is caused by people who think you don’t have a plan unless you have a full formal business plan document, coil bound, edited, printed, and mounted on a pedestal. Not so. Having a plan means milestones, basic numbers, task responsibilities, review schedules, and listed assumptions.

Final thought: my favorite process is having the plan — the real plan, not the formal output document plan — and working it interactively with the pitch. It has to do with the way we humans think. Summarizing something (the pitch) often sharpens the focus, and generates new ideas. Plan and pitch, interactively, working them both. And expect them to change almost daily. That’s life in the real world.

Which, by the way, is dead center in line with the idea of lean business planning.

(Image credits: Veranis, Archman/Shutterstock)

Planning Builds Metrics and Accountability for Business Management

business managementGood business management boils down to managing expectations and results. Define expectations clearly, with objective numbers you can track. Track results with the same metrics. Deal with the difference between expectations and results, positive or negative. There’s nothing better than that for developing accountability in a business. And good planning process is the best way to do that.

That’s easy to say, or write, but hard to do. What I’ve seen, in real life, is that every small business owner, or startup founder, has a built-in problem to deal with related to management and accountability. What happens is that in these small groups, co-workers are friends. You roll up your sleeves and work together. And that close collegial relationship, the team mentality, makes it harder to manage well.

Lean business planning sets clear expectations and then follows up on results. It compares results with expectations. People on a team are held accountable only if management actually does the work of tracking results and communicating them, after the fact, to those responsible.

Business management is about what gets measured

Metrics are part of the problem. As a rule, we don’t develop the right metrics for people. Metrics aren’t right unless the people responsible understand them and believe in them. Will the measurement scheme show good and bad performances?

Remember, people need metrics. People want metrics. You and your business need metrics.

Then you have to track. That’s where the lean business plan creates a management advantage, because tracking and following up is part of its most important pieces. Set the review schedules in advance, make sure you have the right participants for the review, and then do it.

Measurement and feedback

In good teams, the negative feedback is in the metric. Nobody has to scold or lecture, because the team participated in generating the plan and the team reviews it, and good performances make people proud and happy, and bad performances make people embarrassed. It happens automatically. It’s part of the planning process. Besides, guilt and fear tactics are the worst kind of fake management.

And you must avoid the crystal ball and chain. Sometimes — actually, often — metrics go sour because assumptions have changed. Unforeseen events happen. You manage these times collaboratively, separating the effort from the results. Your team members see that and they believe in the process, and they’ll continue to contribute.

Revising the Root Canal Theory of Business Planning

For years I’ve lived with my own “root canal theory of business planning.” Do the Google search for that phrase and you’ll see that my previous writing about this comes up first. Like root canals, business plans were something people dreaded, but needed. Happily, things have changed.

For today: lean business planning

Unlike a root canal, modern-day business planning should not be painful, is not something you do all at once, and ought not to be a cure for anything like a toothache. Instead, it should be fun and interesting, and a regular process. It’s preventative, not curative. I call it lean business planning. The plan stays alive. It’s not painful to do, you like doing it because you’re running your own business and the planning part of it is fascinating. It’s your future, your life, and controlling your destiny.

When experts advise against doing a business plan, they refer to that obsolete full formal business plan that likens the business plan to the root canal. They don’t advise against setting goals, priorities, milestones, metrics, and projected cash flow.

root canalI had the worst kind of reminder yesterday: a root canal. This one repaired one done 20 years ago. Root canals have changed. Technology has improved. But they’re still bad.

It was just after having that first root canal that long ago that I developed the root canal theory of business planning. I’d had a horrible toothache back then, a sleepless night, and by the time I got to the dentist chair the next morning I really, really wanted that root canal. I wanted the pain to end.

Back then — late 1980s — I thought about how people only did business plans when they absolutely had to, for investment or business loans; and about how when they did have to, they wanted that business plan fast, and they wanted it badly. But it seemed like nobody who didn’t have the urgent need wanted to do a business plan. Our fulfillment house noted that our business plan software orders had the highest ratio of overnight shipping of all their clients.

Do your lean business plan. Set strategy, tactics, milestones, and metrics. Then review it often and revise as necessary.

Really, once you understand lean business planning, if you still dread planning, then maybe you should keep your day job.

(Photo credit: cc license by radiant guy, on Flickr.)

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.

Plan Run Review ReviseI very much respect lean startup thought leaders Eric Ries and Steve Blank and the methodology they popularized at the end of the last decade. The way I see it,  a lean startup is one developed along a build-test-revise-build-more-test-more strategy. It’s against long painful planning process that delays a startup for the diminishing returns of waiting too long for too much analysis. It’s a cycle of build, test, correct, then build, test and correct. It’s a get-going attitude that doesn’t wait for all the traffic lights to be green before leaving the driveway.

I don’t see the real thought leaders getting bogged down in codification. But I do see some of their followers turning a set of refreshing new ideas into a set of rules. For example, some say lean business planning must necessarily adopt the lean business canvas methodology, or it doesn’t follow the “right” method.

I say – and if you’re curious, you’ll see it in the post here lean plan and business model canvas, that the lean business canvas is often useful not absolutely necessary. It’s a summary of business model, strategy, and tactics. There are other ways to focus that same core content.

I also say that the core idea of the cycle, the test and revise, the small correction, and the quick pace, is ideal for a next-generation style of business planning. So I’d like to explore here what kind of planning might be related to the lean startup. And I hope, as you read this, that it sounds like a better planning process for a lot of organizations, not just the lean startups.

  1. Keep the planning simple and practical.
    The plan should live online, not on a document printed out somewhere. It could be in the cloud, on an online application, or a local area network. The key players can grab it from where it is, work on it and put it back.
    It doesn’t need any extra frills of editing for the sake of appearances. It doesn’t include an executive summary or a description of company background or management team. It’s a plan, not a sales brochure. If you need that document later on, you can start with the plan and add the extra descriptions, summaries and editing required for showing it to outsiders.
    Your plan should include strategy, tactics, milestones metrics, accountability, and basic projections, plus a review schedule. The review schedule is critical: When will we review and revise? This keeps the plan alive.
  2. Grow it organically.
    The worst thing you could do is develop a plan before you take any action. Start with the heart of it–what’s most important–and build it like an avocado grows, from the heart outward. Don’t put anything off for planning; plan as you develop your business.
    What comes first? Probably strategy, but not necessarily. Some people build their plan all around a sales forecast. It’s all modules, like blocks, and you do it in whatever order fits your personality.
  3. Think it, plan it, test it.
    It’s not like you’re not going to plan, manage and steer your company just because it’s a lean startup. On the contrary, you need to stay on top of the quickly changing plan, managing your assumptions as the reality emerges. As assumptions withstand tests–or don’t–you can quickly make adjustments.
    That agile development website took off even faster than hoped? Cool. Your plan tells you how those dots were connected so you can adjust everything else. Did it take longer than expected? Same thing: Go back to the plan; look at how everything related.
  4. Get started. Get going. 
    I love all the similarities between lean management, lean startups, and lean business planning. So let’s bring the vocabulary together. Real-world business planning, particularly in this rapidly changing real world we live in, should also be lean.
    Plan it, build it, revise it, plan it again. That’s called the planning process, and without it you don’t control your destiny. You can’t move quickly enough. You’re always reactive and you’re not optimizing.
  5. Lather, rinse, repeat.
    Planning has to be like steering, a matter of constant small corrections within a broad navigational plan. The details change, but all within context of the long-term direction. A good planning process is cyclical. You’re always reviewing and revising.

To me, all five points seem to be a pretty good way to build planning into your business, whether you’re a “lean startup” or not.