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Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business, + Website by Matt Blumberg

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CHAPTER FIVE

REVISING THE STORY

Rough drafts are written to be discarded. Every writing manual is in agreement on this point, and the same is true for startup rough drafts. The moment you move from the planning phase to the shark-infested waters of the marketplace, you'll appreciate the truth of Steve Blank's maxim: “No business plan survives first contact with customers.” Startups live or die by how they respond to this harsh reality. Deny the facts, and you'll fail. Sense and respond—even when responding means a radical pivot—and you'll survive and thrive.

WORKSHOPPING

The writer's workshop is perhaps the most mortifying and humbling experience in higher education. You've put your heart and soul into a story, and now you have to read it out loud to a critical audience. Your hope is that they will be dumbstruck by your brilliance; the reality is that they'll immediately start poking holes in your work.

Testing your business plan in front of a live audience—of customers, partners, team members, industry experts—is no different. You can start the process of writing a business plan by filling out the “Lean Canvas” template yourself. There's no shame in throwing out a rough draft to get the conversation started, but then you need to present it your key stakeholders—customers, team members, investors, industry contacts—and ask for their input. Doing so is frequently humbling, but it's always absolutely necessary.

Try It On for Size

I've always been a big fan of taking a decision or ...

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