Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Startup Aphorism: Follow the Opportunity, Not the Plan.

Follow the Opportunity, Not the Plan.

This aphorism is one of the key bits of wisdom I gained while running my social games startup.

Think about this: you're on you way to work, you're rushing, you need be there by 9. You stop into Starbucks to grab your morning coffee, and you accidentally bump into a drop-dead gorgeous girl. She smiles as you fumble. She walks out. You want to follow her, make conversation, marry her...but you can't you have to wait in line for your coffee.

After you get the coffee, you rush out to the street hoping you might see her. She's gone. And you obsess over your missed opportunity all week, maybe for a lifetime.

Just because you followed the plan to get coffee, rather than the opportunity to meet the woman of your dreams.

One of the sad truths about the Internet industry is that things change faster than anyone expects. And yet we're still expected to make business plans.

Business plans are a huge waste of time. If you're a nimble company that responds to changes in the marketplace then it'll be out-of-date even as you're writing it. Do the slide deck thing if you have to.

The best opportunities occur when changes are rapid. New platforms are a goldmine, think about the Facebook or the iPhone. You can't plan for a new platform to emerge. New rules are being written and insights discovered on a daily basis. These are the times are when huge companies emerge from nowhere.

Be one of them. Forget the coffee.