“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
As an expansion stage investor, our focus is on getting companies through the expansion stage of their development to become solid growth stage companies and eventually execute a company exit strategy.
As companies raise expansion capital and evolve through the expansion stage, the one constant is change. The company changes through its product development, go-to-market development, and organizational and operational development, and there is also constant change with the competitors and the target customers (who are evolving through an experience curve with the product set).
Because of all the change, plans, particularly long term plans, are difficult to get right. Some companies punt by not developing longer term aspirations (e.g., mission, vision, values), strategies and plans. But the best expansion stage companies, particularly companies with sold venture capital advisers (or other solid advisors or experienced management teams), develop long term targets and well baked plans, work with a high sense of urgency to execute the plans, and then step back periodically and make adjustments to their plans based upon results and changes with competitors and target customers.
The planning cycle is somewhat frustrating and takes a lot of discipline, but it allows the growing employee base to get into alignment, aim at targeted results, and put all of its energy against attaining the targets, and then check results, reflect on them, review, prioritize, plan and execute again.
Marc Andreessen, who has had great results as an entrepreneur and recently raised a venture capital fund, puts planning quite well in this video.