Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting Started -- Preparing to Plan! (5/12)

Last time ("The FAC Attack!"), we basked in the glory of the Entrepreneurial Firm's (EF's) newly-recaptured knowledge of its customers' big-picture world. Making use of the Facilitator's (FAC's) ordered list of specific actions, the EF now possesses the business-planning goal of every enterprise on The Technology Planning Planet: a rich and ever-growing composite, with back-up detail, of its customers' future business requirements.

What did the FAC do to get started? Just as at every step along the way, the start-up phase featured preparation coupled with unrelenting implementation.

Every technology company -- in fact, every for-profit enterprise -- faces with great anticipation the highly-lucrative opportunities present in its market. At times, EVERY potential customer seems so desirable that it is difficult to differentiate among them.

But, not all customers and prospects are created equal. Some possess much more opportunity, near-and/or long-term, than others. Detailed awareness of that opportunity will come from intense perusal of each customer or prospect environment.

Each customer resides in its own industry. Within that industry, it maintains a present standing, and strives for a future stature. Perhaps it is already a traditional industry leader with dominant market share, looked to (with varying degrees of awe!) by other "wannabe" companies at lower industry rungs.

Or maybe the company is the fresh and surging upstart enterprise, filling the pages of trade and consumer publications alike with its new concepts, creative product plans, planned IPO. The darling of the industry today may in fact continue to be tomorrow's success story -- or morph into an ugly-duckling version of itself!

Just as likely, the company may be in the solid mid-tiers of its industry, pumping out good, stable, functional products on a recurring basis. It may be achieving solid financial returns that position it for possession of a respectable share of its industry's market for years to come.

Each of these company types has attractive business prospects, to be sure. Understanding the profile of the entire industry will assist the EF not only in targeting customers within that industry but in targeting those companies with which to undertake a concerted knowledge-sharing effort.

The FAC will look at the industry, using tangible resources available. Industry analyses, published by industry-observing experts, provide a wealth of information. Annual reports and other SEC-related corporate documents add further detail for publicly-held companies. Trade and business journals yield up-to-the minute insights.

In this early stage of preparation, as at all subsequent stages, knowledge is the focus. The FAC's assignment is to develop and maintain an industry-by-industry composite of pertinent content. Within each industry, a profile of participanting companies is developed and documented for ongoing reference. The EF's current and future customers live and operate within these industries. They are the playing field on which all thrilling victories -- or agonizing defeats -- will occur.

Part 5 of 12, Lyn Gosz, Gosz Group Technology Planners