The not-great, the good, and the awesome

It’s always a little uncomfortable calling others to join you in doing the impossible (or the not-yet-possible) … but sometimes humility can be self-fulfilling.

Don’t be humble, either. This was one of my early mistakes. I was well aware that I was going to be subjected to this sort of skepticism. As a result, my initial projections were extremely conservative. Bad idea. In my first few meetings, I got the same reaction: People loved the concept, but were surprised at how little money we were going to generate. Despite the fact that our idea had potential, I’d attempted to temper expectations. Turns out, I’d tried so hard to avoid looking unrealistic that I ended up looking unimpressive. There was a middle ground I was missing. Don’t go overboard, but don’t sell yourself short.

In fact, this is the reason many people advocate integrating a situational analysis into your projections. Take three scenarios—not great, good, awesome—and show how they affect your profits and the amount of good your company can do. Make it as easy as possible to understand. “If we get this many customers, here’s what happens.” It takes a bit more research and a bit more time, but it’ll show that you’re planning ahead for contingencies—something any potential investor will appreciate.

from “Diary of a Social Venture Start-up: Early Mistakes,” by Joe Ippolito, GOOD, 17 August 2009

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