Leading small business advocates, publications and “gurus” promulgate their step-by-step entrepreneurship checklists as click-bait. They simply attract your attention. Otherwise, they’re absolutely useless. I’ve been an entrepreneur for nearly 20 years, and I know a bunch of successful entrepreneurs. Not a single successful entrepreneur has ever told me, “You know, Randal, all I did was follow this simple checklist and…BAM…I became a successful entrepreneur!” Learn in this blog post why a startup checklist won’t address your situation.
It sounds ludicrous when you make fun of it, but when trusted entities, like the Small Business Administration have a checklist, then you have to wonder.
Here’s the Small Business Administration’s 10-Step Checklist to launch a business:
- Step 1: Write a Business Plan
- Step 2: Get Help and Training
- Step 3: Choose Your Business Location
- Step 4: Understand your Financing Options
- Step 5: Decide on a Business Structure
- Step 6: Register Your Business Name
- Step 7: Get a Tax ID
- Step 8: Register with Tax Authorities
- Step 9: Apply for Permits and Licenses
- Step 10: Hiring Employees
Ummm…where is FIND AND PENETRATE A MARKET? Or DIFFERENTIATE FROM YOUR COMPETITION? Or CREATE SCALABLE INFRASTRUCTURE ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET?
In true bureaucratic government form, the SBA basically tells you what paperwork is required to be filed. That’s the trivial part of launching a company. Frequently, you can complete that in a day!
Other highly reputable sources provide these steps:
- Step 1: Discover or invent your “eureka” offering.
- Step 2: Identify a market for your “eureka” offering.
- Step 3: Find funding to execute your business plan.
- Step 4: Execute your business plan and become wealthy.
Although more insightful than the SBA, these steps aren’t very helpful either.
In Google’s 16 Billion results for “how to start a business,” no real step-by-step recipe exists for starting a business.
Why? Because these steps are different for each person, situation, offering, market and personal circumstances. You have to identify your own steps. To do this, you need a proven, actionable process. To create one, you need to follow a business model.
The DADDEE Framework
I failed miserably at my first entrepreneurial attempt. I launched my first company and suffered resounding failure! Why? I followed a checklist and, even worse, I wrote a 40-page business plan! I used a checklist and business plan template that I discovered online. I did all of the steps and…
I realized that the steps listed in the checklist were absolutely useless. Most were too vague. Some were simply irrelevant to the business that I wanted to launch. Actually, that last statement isn’t totally accurate. In fact, I wasn’t exactly sure what kind of business I truly wanted to launch and that was indicative of the flaws of a “checklist.”
I needed better checklist steps that would help me make better business decisions…and not just provide activities for me to do.
Following a Framework, Not a Checklist
Finally, I reverted to a framework that I developed while supporting a US Navy program called the Smart Ship Initiative. Simply stated, I was on a ship that was told to “think out of the box” to improve crew morale and shipboard performance.
This program was similar in vagueness as “starting a company,” and I needed a starting place!
With a Master’s degree in Operations Research specializing in process improvement, I knew that I needed something more than a checklist to follow. I created a model to drive “thinking out of the box” for FFG-7 Ship Class Engineering Department personnel, processes and equipment. I call it the DADDEE Framework.
DADDEE is an acronym for Dream/Desire, Analyze, Define, Develop, Execute and Evaluate.
It will help you identify the steps that YOU need to take to be successful.
Although I’m rather fond of the DADDEE Framework, having used it to successfully launch multiple business entities, there are other business models that may be successfully followed, as well. In fact, most of the successful entrepreneurs that share their stories with me followed the tenets of various business models without ever realizing it. They needed to think deeper than a simple checklist.
They had to derive their own, unique steps to find entrepreneurial success.
For most of us, we struggled for many years before either specifically, or unknowingly, committing to a business model on our journey to discover the things necessary to be successful.
Government Contracting Academy teaches the DADDEE Framework to our clients to help them identify the things that are essential to their entrepreneurial success. Each client has different “outputs” from the DADDEE Framework that drive their entrepreneurial pursuit because each client is different. Each startup is different. Each situation is different.
No generic checklist can ever address YOUR unique situation.
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