Ready, Fire, Aim: ExecuSpeak Dictionary

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What? Isn't it ready, aim, and then fire?

Not in business. The life and death issue in building a business is not about missing the target; it is about not moving forward at all.

Business plans are an essential element to every new business or product. Yet too many business plans never get off the ground because the plan is outlined, drafted, written, rewritten, evaluated, rewritten, re-evaluated, presented, re-evaluated, rewritten, reconsidered, revised, proofed, revised...The picture is clear.

Think about it this way...the output of any initiative will not be perfect. No matter how much time and effort is put into getting everything together there will be room for improvement. That's why every training program has an evaluation form at the end. That's why new products and established products continue to seek feedback from customers and users. That's why there are beta tests and market tests. There is a time to stop planning and (ohhhhh.... wait for it) Just Do It. Ready? Not really. Fire!

Yes. Now aim for a better version.

Experience is the basis for learning. That's not just a platitude. Business plans, market plans, new initiatives, new products will all be flawed. And the special talent of the entrepreneur is this: it's okay if it's not perfect, it's more important to move forward than not move at all. Sometimes the fastest way to uncover the flaw is by moving forward and evaluating the results.

The essential thought process has more to do with assessing actual risk as compared to the risk of embarrassment. What is the actual risk? What is the worst-case scenario? If the worst case scenario is less money than the market research effort then clearly "Ready? Fire!" is the way to go. Market research is essential but sometimes it's a risk mitigation technique. Instead of alienating 1000 customers a little research might be in order. But if there are no customers (new business, start-up business, new product, new service) and no funding AND there are no lives at risk, then the best (BEST) market research is simply putting the product or service into the marketplace to get their reaction. Of course, it's essential to get feedback so that the next iteration will be an improvement. That's why aim comes last.

Ready? Fire! Aim. Repeat. (Don't forget "Repeat.")

--By Carol Heiberger

Heiberger is the author of ExecuSpeak Dictionary. Experience includes positions with the Ford Motor Company, Bell Atlantic, consulting, and as COO of a start-up CATV/ISP. She has expertise in strategic planning, marketing, and finance. She has taught degree-seeking graduate students and knowledge-seeking adults of all ages and walks of life. She earned her MBA from Wharton.

Contact Carol at