Business Plans, Products and the Horse Race

I recently revisited my business plan (something I do about every 4 months…). My goal is to see (a) how/what I’m doing regarding how/what I THOUGHT I’d be doing, (b) note any changes, and (c) update the plan accordingly. This combined backward- and forward-cast of consideration reminded me of a post I made awhile back about the parallels of enterprise performance review processes and horse races. While that post focused on the willingness to engage in developing and enriching team members that are forced into a strictly hierarchical and ‘winner-takes-most’ structure, it made me consider the dynamism of the processes, products and services that entrepreneurs work with. We work in the middle of a whirlwind every day.

I took a hard look at my business plan and had to decide which services/offerings need to evolve, stay the course or get dropped. Sometimes this is easy. Since some time and a number of deliveries have taken place, seeing where certain services are heading is a little clearer. However, there are some that I feel could use some more refinement, more thought and promotion……or is it worth it? The ability to step back and discern the viability of a product or service can be hard for a solopreneur. We can be too close to it, maybe too invested in it to be objective. Still, refinement and ‘doubling-down’ on some products can pay off. This is when the horse race analogy takes on meaning.

In my previous post, I wrote that just because the horse doesn’t come in at #1 (and there is, after all, only ONE #1…) doesn’t mean that it gets automatically consigned to the glue factory. The owner spent time, money, resources and untold effort to get the horse to this point…..and the horse came in at, say, #5 in the last race. What might it take to get the horse to #1 in the next race? A different venue? More effective training? A different trainer or jockey? A different set of races (maybe the Triple Crown is Just Not Where this horse should compete….)? In that post I referred to the book by Ricardo Semler, The Seven Day Weekend, in which he relates numerous examples of working with employees at his company to find the right niche for them. He takes responsibility for hiring them, and so takes further responsibility for assisting them as they find the best place to ‘bloom’. The employee that is ‘let go’ is extremely rare.

When it comes to my products, processes and services, I have to take the same approach. Having done due diligence, I know that the focus of my business is valid. Research brings me information about my audience, the market and the region that tells me what I need to know to move forward. I have only had one offering that was part of my initial plan that I dropped…..but the idea behind that offering lives on and has, in fact, resurfaced as a different product!

What kinds of ‘course corrections’ have you made that proved fruitful or came back to haunt you? Let me know in the comments.

No ideas go to the glue factory.

A couple of great articles:

One thought on “Business Plans, Products and the Horse Race

  1. Loved the title of your blog-it really drew me in! Having a fledgling business myself I could truly relate to your thoughts. Thank you for sharing.

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