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Usually you do not hear about the plans that fail.  However, the majority of new businesses fail.  Why ?  The National Business Incubation Association reports that most failures are attributed to three factors:  weak management team, insufficient funding, and poor strategic plan.   The worst plans are:


Never finished.  Many organizations and people aspire to write a good plan; few succeed in completing the task. It is harder than you think to pull together all the important elements.  The wise leader combines inputs from staff, advisors, investors, and customers with a business coach or team lead who focuses to finish the effort. 


Never implemented.  You can have the best plan in the world, but if it sits on the shelf collecting dust it is destined to fail.  Use the plan to hold people accountable.


Never changed.  A plan must continue to evolve.  The market is changing and competition is changing in response to the market.  It’s ‘change or die.’  Known as “Nothing But Initials,’ NBI grew from a fledging Boulder start-up founded by Binx Selby in 1973 to be one of the most successful firms in the word processing and office automation industry. By 1982, its sales exceeded $100 million and the growth continued.  However when technology moved from centralized computing to distributed personal computers, NBI’s leadership did not revise its strategic plan that allowed its product to evolve in response to changing market conditions. The competition did. NBI ultimately lost its leadership position and much more.


 Theresa M. Szczurek ( and

Copyright © 2009 Theresa M. Szczurek. All Rights Reserved.



How do you attract the funds to build your venture? How do you align your team and get everyone moving in the right direction?  How do you test if your strategies will get you where you want to go?  A good business plan is the answer.   More detailed than the strategic plan, the business plan explains the model for turning an idea into a viable venture. 


Business Plan


A solid business plan explains:

  • Company passion, purpose, and vision (or core idealogy), background, and strategic business model to achieve its mission
  • Market need and why current competitive alternatives are not satisfying them. 
  • Company’s solution, the product and services, offered to solve the unmet need with a sustainable competitive advantage
  • Sales and marketing approach to bring the solution to market including pricing, distribution, partnership, and promotions strategies
  • Realistic projections of forecasted sales and resulting revenues
  • Proforma financial statements showing how the firm makes money, becomes profitable, and makes a full triple bottom-line impact
  • Management and human resources available to create and execute the plans
  • Explanation of what other resources, financial, human, and otherwise, are needed to succeed


The plan guides the firm’s efforts, ensures there is a solid business to be built, and helps attract resources.  At AT&T International as line of business manager, the plans I created convinced the Board of Director to internally fund the effort. At my entrepreneurial venture Radish Communications Systems and with my consulting clients, the business plans are used to attract outside investors.  The plan must be professional and comprehensive; otherwise you set the company up for failure.


Critical Mistakes.  It is not easy to create a good business plan.  Nearly 250 venture capital companies across the US, were asked, “What is the worst mistake an entrepreneur can make when completing their company's business plan?  Eight critical mistakes were reported at not clear in explaining the opportunity, unrealistic projections, simplistic assumptions, weak analysis of competition, failure to describe a sustainable competitive advantage, mistakes, errors, and misleading information, overstated management strengths, and  incompleteness such as insufficient financial data.


Example.  Phil Lyman, founder and CTO of Boundless Corporation (, a Colorado corporation focused on innovative energy storage for high performance systems, wanted to expand into new markets.  He made a smart decision—to build a business plan and to get help from TMS to more efficiently do so.  He used this plan to attract funding and guide the firm’s operations.  Lyman explains, “One of Boundless’ keys to success has been to narrow our focus onto emerging target markets with urgent need for advanced technology.  Strategic planning is paramount for establishing adequate focus.”  Boundless was a finalist for an Innovation Quotient (IQ) award from Boulder County Business Report. With the right product and plan to bring it successfully to market, the firm augmented government sales with commercial sales of large-format lithium-ion batteries and packs.


Implementing the Plan – Pursue Your Purpose


Establish a strategic plan.  Then expand to a business plan. Use them as tools to guide the company and its people.  It takes relentless pursuit using a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, ongoing assessment of progress, consistent team communications, and mid-course corrections. 


How to Build a Good Plan?


Combine your vision of what you want with relentless effort to get it.  Follow the 4-stage "Pursuit of Passionate Purpose" process. Get help from the right players.  Then pursue your passionate purpose!  Real rewards will follow.


Theresa M. Szczurek ( and

Copyright 2009



A legendary study of graduates from Harvard University showed the importance of goal setting and planning. People (and organizations) with a plan outperformed those without one. The three percent of those with a written plan greatly outperformed all the others, who only had a mental plan. Having a written plan is a key factor in effectively pursuing any passionate purpose.  Verne Harnish, author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, says, “A vision is a dream with a plan.” So where’s your plan? 


Your Strategic Plan


Gazelles, companies growing more than 20% per year for more than four years, know what is important:  A clear strategic plan which is implemented with best business practices.


Process. Use this 4-stage ‘pursuit of passionate purpose’ process to build your plan:

  • Access progress – look at your current situation and determine ‘who are we now?’
  • Find your passion by clarifying core values and competencies – determine ‘what is our passion?’
  • Align that passion with a purpose and vision – Define a Big Hairy Audacious Goal or BHAG® on ‘where you want to get to?’
  • Pursue purpose -- Identify and implement strategic initiatives on ‘how do we get there?’

It is iterative and ongoing--over time, go back to “Access progress” phase and revise your plan.


One-page Plan. Organize outputs of this process into a 1-page strategic plan.     This communications tool aligns everyone in your company with the passion, purpose, and priorities to pursue your vision.  It works.  The fastest growing companies have a good plan and a well-developed habit of continually using it to evaluate progress.  Keep the plan alive – monitor, assess, revise, and continue to pursue.  Check out and sign up for the great weekly newsletter.  You can download a  template for a 1-page plan.


Example. Consider the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (  TMS helped them create the iCAST strategic plan, implement a system for executing the plan, and better manage its exponential growth.   “We found great value in establishing a clear direction and roadmap for iCAST’s future,” said Ravi Malhotra, iCAST executive director and founder. 

Practical Pointers. How to Build a Good Plan?

  1. Establish a strategic plan for your organization. Follow the 4-stage process. Combine your vision of what you want with relentless effort to get it.
  2. Organize the plan in a simple to follow format where all critical information is in one place.  Post the plan so all can refer to it on regular basis.
  3. Use the plan as a tool to guide your company and people.  Establish team and individual goals and metrics.  Publicly review progress and use team pressure to hold people accountable.
  4. Then pursue your passionate purpose!  It takes relentless pursuit using a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy, ongoing assessment of progress, consistent team communications, and mid-course corrections. 
  5. Get help from the right players.   We are available to coach you through this process. You don’t need to it alone.

Build a good plan and then execute it.


Theresa M. Szczurek ( and

copyight 2009