The modern business plan

It’s not clear to me why business plans are the way they are, but they’re often misused to obfuscate, bore and show an ability to comply with expectations. If I want the real truth about a business and where it’s going, I’d rather see something else. I’d divide the modern business plan into five sections:

* Truth
* Assertions
* Alternatives
* People
* Money

The truth section describes the world as it is. Footnote if you want to, but tell me about the market you are entering, the needs that already exist, the competitors in your space, technology standards, the way others have succeeded and failed in the past. The more specific the better. The more ground knowledge the better. The more visceral the stories, the better. The point of this section is to be sure that you’re clear about the way you see the world, and that you and I agree on your assumptions. This section isn’t partisan, it takes no positions, it just states how things are.

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It’s not clear to me why business plans are the way they are, but they’re often misused to obfuscate, bore and show an ability to comply with expectations. If I want the real truth about a business and where it’s going, I’d rather see something else. I’d divide the modern business plan into five sections:

  • Truth
  • Assertions
  • Alternatives
  • People
  • Money

The truth section describes the world as it is. Footnote if you want to, but tell me about the market you are entering, the needs that already exist, the competitors in your space, technology standards, the way others have succeeded and failed in the past. The more specific the better. The more ground knowledge the better. The more visceral the stories, the better. The point of this section is to be sure that you’re clear about the way you see the world, and that you and I agree on your assumptions. This section isn’t partisan, it takes no positions, it just states how things are. Leer más “The modern business plan”

Are you an elite?

In the developing world, there’s often a sharp dividing line between the elites and everyone else. The elites have money and/or an advanced education. It’s not unusual to go to the poorest places on earth and find a small cadre of people who aren’t poor at all. Sometimes, this is an unearned position, one that’s inherited or acquired in ways that take advantage of others. Regardless, you can’t just announce you’re an elite and become one.

In more and more societies, though (including my country and probably yours), I’d argue that there’s a different dividing line. This is the line between people who are actively engaged in new ideas, actively seeking out change, actively engaging–and people who accept what’s given and slog along. It starts in school, of course, and then the difference accelerates as we get older. Some people make the effort to encounter new challenges or to grapple with things they disagree with. They seek out new people and new opportunities and relish the discomfort that comes from being challenged to grow (and challenging others to do the same).


In the developing world, there’s often a sharp dividing line between the elites and everyone else. The elites have money and/or an advanced education. It’s not unusual to go to the poorest places on earth and find a small cadre of people who aren’t poor at all. Sometimes, this is an unearned position, one that’s inherited or acquired in ways that take advantage of others. Regardless, you can’t just announce you’re an elite and become one. Leer más “Are you an elite?”

Consumer debt is not your friend

Here’s a simple MBA lesson: borrow money to buy things that go up in value. Borrow money if it improves your productivity and makes you more money. Leverage multiplies the power of your business because with leverage, every dollar you make in profit is multiplied.

That’s very different from the consumer version of this lesson: borrow money to buy things that go down in value. This is wrongheaded, short-term and irrational.


by Seth Godin
Here’s a simple MBA lesson: borrow money to buy things that go up in value. Borrow money if it improves your productivity and makes you more money. Leverage multiplies the power of your business because with leverage, every dollar you make in profit is multiplied.

That’s very different from the consumer version of this lesson: borrow money to buy things that go down in value. This is wrongheaded, short-term and irrational. Leer más “Consumer debt is not your friend”

Four Cs of The Scale Challenge


by Shefaly

”Let us try.
To-morrow, how you shall be glad for this!”

Robert Browning

Businesses want to scale. It is especially true for ambitious entrepreneurs. It should be easy, should it not? After all, the smart view is that it is ambition that scales, ’stuff’ does not. But the reality is not linear, not bi-modal, but nuanced. The road to hell is paved with a surfeit of ambition and a shortage of what it takes.

So what does it take to scale successfully?

Here is what.

Cardinal check: The core issues

Is the core of the business profitable? If it is not, then there may be a problem to solve already. There could be many reasons for unprofitability from bad strategy to poor execution. But one big outcome is that the business has little money to spend on dreams.

Is the business amenable to scaling? Not all businesses are. Some personality driven businesses and hourly chargeable careers may not always scale. The entrepreneur needs to take a dispassionate look – or ask someone else more dispassionate than she is to take a look – at the possibilities in and limitations of his business. That will also help think about strategic pathways to scaling. For instance, Nicky Clarke, who is a well-known hairdresser, can give only so many haircuts himself. Can he scale? Yes, possibly by personally training other stylists, or by launching haircare related products. But only he can decide if it is acceptable to him to scale that way.

Does the business have the capabilities required? A firm may be looking to open a new market. But it will be difficult to service a demand it actively creates if, for example, its manufacturing capabilities do not scale, or do not scale easily. For one of my clients in biologics manufacturing, we are doing our sums and readjusting our timetables because  the manufacturing plants must obtain regulatory approval. In other cases, a firm may not have the capabilities but may be willing and able to source help from outside.

Above all, will the added scale enhance the value of the business? If the answer to that is ‘no’, the project may not be worth the hassle.

Capital: do your sums!

Does the business have the money it will take? Nearly all scaling activities require money. Lots of it. There are both monetary and opportunity costs associated with raising money. One could approach one’s bank, assuming it is willing to lend. One could go to investors who have expertise in one’s industry or bring other non-financial value-add. However with both these sources, tough questions regarding the profitability of the core business must be answered.

If one’s ambition really does scale and if there is confidence in other organisational capabilities, then one could bootstrap, as one of my clients – a serial biotechnology entrepreneur – is doing! He understands the risks and that if he must use leverage or raise money, timing is all important.

Regardless of how one raises capital, the balance sheet will change. So will the nature and scope of control as we see next.

Control: See, letting go of.

Can you let go? For ambitious entrepreneurs, one of the hardest things to do is letting go of absolute and full control: control of the company ownership and sometimes, of strategic pathways to propel the ambition forward. It is however a necessary risk, since the entrepreneur himself cannot scale.

Scaling also requires organisational and process redesign. And empowerment of people who buy into the vision of the business and have the capability to make the right decisions. If a robust core business and a basic but clear structure exist, letting go of control enables emergent structures that suit emergent needs. Leer más “Four Cs of The Scale Challenge”

The 5Cs of Choosing the Right Client


Previously on Onextrapixel, we’ve looked at the 5 Cs of Hiring a Freelance Designer. Today’s article will turn the tables around and explore the 5 Cs freelancers should look out for in a client.

The 5 Cs is not an unfamiliar subject to those of us living in a busy metropolitan regardless of which continent or country. Living in this modern and fast paced society, the need for the 5 Cs (Cash, Credit Cards, Condominium, Career and Country Club Memberships) is a confirmation of the high standard of living we have today.

5Cs of Choosing the Right Client
Image credit: Shutterite Co. /Kelly hofer

Although many have goals to attain all 5 Cs, this article explore 5 very different attributes that are also important especially for freelance web designers.

As freelancers, many times, the power is out of your hands. Clients are the ones with the upper hand because they have the option to choose from various candidates vying for their project. Although you have no control over whether clients will choose you over others, you can work on the things that you have control over to put your best foot forward and give it your best shot.

Clients have a right to choose. So do freelancers. You can choose to politely reject the job offer if they do not meet your own expectations. The idea is to meet each other half way and come to a mutual understanding and agreement. It’s time every one played by the rules; fair and acceptable rules.

The 5Cs of Choosing Clients

Before you go ahead and accept a job offer, these are some guidelines you can follow to determine if the client is worth working for. The following is a characteristic scan on five key areas you should take note of when you consider taking up a project from your clients.

Lack of Condescension

Respect is a key component in every good working relationship. Money isn’t everything; and money shouldn’t be used to make others feel small and inferior. If potential clients treat you with condescension and think that they are cut above the rest, working for them will be a rather unpleasant experience. They will not be open to equal and fair communication and discussion and this will greatly affect the process and the end product of the project itself.

Condescension Leer más “The 5Cs of Choosing the Right Client”

Freelancer Custom Quoting: How to Quote per Project by Secretly Charging per Hour


As a freelancer, one of the things you’re faced with figuring out is whether you’re going to charge by the hour, or by the project. There are two sides to the discussion and both sides will make valid points for the decision to charge one way or the other. But, what if I told you that you didn’t have to choose?

Freelancer Secret Custom Quoting
Image credit: Ben Zweig

What if you can charge people for the project, while quoting secretly by the hour? Would you want to do it? Would it benefit you in the long run? That is the issue we will discuss in this article. There are both pros and cons to either method you choose.

The Benefit of Charging Per Hour

Charging by the hour ensures that you will not face the problem of a scope creep because you get paid for how much time you put into the project regardless of the changes. This is especially beneficial if the projects you’re working on are not set in stone in terms of the process and the details of the project.

The Benefit of Charging Per Project

Quoting your clients per project allows you to pad the prices a little to cover any possible scope creep you might encounter with the project. Clients favor this method of cost quotation because they feel safe and do not need to worry about any additional hidden costs they have to deal with later on. They know right from the start how much to budget for the project and what they can expect to receive at the end of the project.

The result is a tie between the two methods. However, fret not; you do not have to choose between the two. You can quote your clients based on the project while still charging by the hour. If we’ve got your attention, read on.

The Best of Both Worlds

It really isn’t hard to have the best of both worlds when it comes to providing quotations that will satisfy you and the client. Outlined below are some key points to take note as to how to get the best of both worlds. So pay close attention and soon you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of both per-project quotations and charging by the hour.

Having Best of Both Worlds Leer más “Freelancer Custom Quoting: How to Quote per Project by Secretly Charging per Hour”

How your blog can make the world a better place


This is a guest post by Jason Ulsrud, at Forty2Fifty.

I have found myself asking this question a lot lately. Am I providing purpose to the world?
Your blog can effect humanity in one of three ways:

  • Make the world better
  • Not change the world at all
  • Make the world worse

How your blog can make the world a better place

good_world Simply put, provide solutions. Every single person who comes to your blog is there for a reason, even your most avid readers, mom and dad. If you can provide even one person with a solution to their problem, then you’re making the world a better place. However, providing solutions without making money is not good business for a Problogger.

Capitalizing on the solutions you are providing to readers with products and services that will support your purpose or add to your readers lives can take you from hobby blogger to Problogger.

Leer más “How your blog can make the world a better place”