Business Plan Mistake #3 – Too Much Detail or the Wrong Type of Detail

by Feb 11, 2010Strategy | Entrepreneurship, Marketing

As we continue to explore the mistakes business owners make in their plan, mistake #3 is particularly common among engineers and technical folks.

Business Plan Mistake #3 – Too Much Detail or the Wrong Type of Detail

There is a story about an impatient young man who went to visit an old Bible scholar. He demanded the old man tell him everything he needed to know about the Bible while standing on one foot. The old man smiled, stood on one foot, and said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! All the rest is commentary.”

Why do I include this story in a book about business planning? It is not because I think business owners require divine intervention (although maybe they do sometimes). I include the story because it contains a wonderful lesson for business owners.
Regardless of what you believe about the origin of the Bible, most people agree it is a complex work with multiple themes and messages contained in its pages. And yet, in a few words, the old man summarized the content, presenting it in a form many people would agree captures the essence of the document.
The lesson is simple. As you write your business plan, imagine you are writing for an impatient young man and try to meet his challenge. Boil down the description of your business to a simple message, deliverable while standing on one foot.
In a recent conversation, Ben McConnell gives a great example of how when we try to impress our audience, we often complicate our messages when the simple will work much better. He gives two examples of a company mission statement.
The first, written to impress:
Understand how to create better innovation opportunities for our products by listening closely to our customers’ needs through a world-class  community solution that deepens our customer relationships and helps customers share and collaborate together

The second expresses the same idea, in a way everyone can understand.

Innovate using customer feedback.

Which makes more sense to you?

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