Thursday, March 1, 2007

Looking good is half the battle

posted by Andy Leff
Credibility. It's a small business's strongest currency, the special sauce that dazzles investors, employees, and customers. That's according to the results of the Panel Study of Entrepreneurial Dynamics (PSED), summarized at

Here are some of my own suggestions for kicking your venture's success up a notch.

First, don't be afraid to forgo formality. Traditional business plans are not always necessary. A brief executive summary, a short competitive analysis, and a simple budget outline often make good starting points. People often spend (waste?) months perfecting their business plans, only to be shot down by an investor at the first meeting.

That's because the idea of a 'perfect business plan' is a myth. You can't be perfect, because the market and competition are always shifting. Your business has to hit the moving target.

To do so, you must constantly monitor your space. Continue to refine your company goals. Be innovative. Keep moving forward. Maintain flexibility. Be open to change. And check your ego at the door. Few things go right on the first go-around, so be prepared to fail.

Next, find business mentors, and pick their brains for valuable advice or lessons learned. Same goes for internal strength. Seek partners and employees who are open-minded, collaborative, and open to feedback.

One simple trick: Hire people who are smarter than you, and then leave them alone to do their best work. Micromanaging limits company growth and creativity (not to mention drives everyone bonkers).

Finally, take advantage of real-world education. College degrees certainly have merit, but day-to-day business also requires common sense and situational awareness. The more attuned your senses, the faster you can act -- and with better results.

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