You see, I think that in business moving with speed is not necessarily always good. What you actually need is velocity.
Unfortunately, a lot of enterprises consistently mistake speed for velocity, in the illusion that if you are fast enough you will take advantage of early adopters and new market trends. Truth is, you need to know where you are going before you accelerate to reach it. Quite relevant to your business drive, I would say.
In essence and in general terms, velocity is a much more meaningful indicator than speed. Let’s have a quick look at the definitions (courtesy of WIKIPEDIA).
“In physics, velocity is defined as speed in a given direction. Speed describes only how fast an object is moving, whereas velocity gives both the speed and direction of the object’s motion. Both magnitude and direction are therefore required to define velocity. “
So we have established that velocity means going somewhere at speed, possibly accelerating all the way but having first chosen a given direction where to go.
This is key for a business. Choosing a direction means:
- Establishing your potential market
- Estimating which/how many clients to reach
- Defining the product or service your company will build and or sell
- Choosing a pricing policy: for example, cheap but broad reach vs. Expensive but narrow
- Deciding your geographical focus: I.e. global v. Local
Your business plan will have to articulate much more than this of course, but if you can start with clearing those questions marks then you are already on the way to a good solid start.
Your aim should be to be in a position to carefully pick your fights and give yourself and your company a better chance of winning.
A sound business plan should also enable your company to make the right investment decisions (tools, infrastructure, people, etc.) where it matters.
It should spell out your commitment (you should do what you say you will, when you said you would do it), and set the right expectations to your internal and external clients.
Finally, your plan should identify ecosystem of players and the associated responsibilities, accountability span, metrics and measures.
Failure to clearly document and articulate all the above will enhance the risk for your business of going nowhere fast. Sometimes this can be acceptable, especially if you drive a company that is not afraid of failures for trying something really innovative, cutting edge and/or disrupting. If you embrace the risk of failing as a strategic element of what you do, then it’s ok to fail fast and restart just as fast.
Remember though that there is a cost associated to this behavior, and that it requires a lean and mean company to be able to learn from failures and quickly pivot to a different product, service or market approach (aka “a change of course”).
So next time you look at your business plan, consider what velocity might mean to you and don’t fall prey to the speed demon.