One of my favorite quotes comes from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who was asked if he did customer research. His answer was “It’s not the customer’s job to know what they want.”
Why is it that truly great leaders seem to get right to the point? Bold clarity does not take more than a few words.
The Power of the Napkin
Why do so many business plans for new ventures turn into dozens, or even hundreds of pages? My return challenge is always the same: “Send me your idea on a napkin.”
If you have a great idea, you can capture the vision for it in a sentence. Encapsulate the strategy in a few bullet points. Projections in a couple of numbers. And wouldn’t an actual picture of the customer be nice, instead of a table of demographic data?
Okay, if you need tons of data to sell some uptight financial analyst who can’t form an opinion without of mountain of detail, fine. But you should certainly attach the napkin to the top of the package. And since some of my best ventures started over a long lunch with the founder, the napkin approach will fit right in where some of the best ideas take form.
Do You Have a Valid Dream, or an Unrealistic Fantasy?
The longer the business plan, the greater the fantasy that the idea will become a viable commercial success. Dreams drive entrepreneurs and are good things. Long plans support fantasy, and rarely seem to lead anywhere. To make sure your dream doesn’t stall out, ask yourself:
I wonder, did the plan for the initial version of the iPod fit on a napkin? You know the answer.
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