By Scott Meacham
Copyright © 2014, The Oklahoma Publishing Company
We work with hundreds of startups in a year, and I can’t think of a single one that didn’t plan to succeed.
This doesn’t change the reality that in the world of startups, failure is a real possibility.
All you have to do is look at the stats.
But savvy entrepreneurs know that there are many startups that do succeed; that success is not random, and that it doesn’t just happen.
It takes a plan.
The best new companies back up their entrepreneurial hopes and optimism with well-thought out short-term and long-term plans to improve their odds.
They recognize that having a business plan that spells out critical milestones, anticipates various scenarios including setbacks, and then maps human and financial resources will produce a better result.
They also recognize that even though their resources are limited, a portion must be set aside and allocated to activities that won’t pay off immediately but may have substantial future impact.
I would argue that communities, regions, and states are not that dissimilar from companies when it comes to planning for success.
Success doesn’t just happen; it is the result of planning and a commitment of resources.
Otherwise, success will not materialize.
At the state level, the challenge is that most state legislatures work on a one-year planning horizon.
They don’t make long-term plans or adopt and fund longer-term strategies.
I’ve yet to see a model — in business or government — that achieved long-term goals by solely relying on short-term plans and activities.
This makes a state’s success much more happenstance than predictable, creating an environment where the emphasis is on putting out current fires versus developing and implementing a plan for longer-term success — an environment in which energy and resources are invested in what’s pressing at the moment at the expense of greater future success.
This isn’t to say that it is easy for any public sector entity to allocate resources beyond the current budget year.
Voices are loud and the demands of the present are so pressing that they can literally squeeze the life out of a state’s best future opportunity.
But while we might wish it was otherwise, the economic challenges that states face in this increasingly competitive global economy simply cannot be solved in one year or one legislative term.
It takes concentrated deliberate effort over time.
These challenges require goals and resource commitments that span administrations and years.
Ask any successful CEO.
The only way businesses achieve sustainable success over time is to plan and budget for it.
Scott Meacham is president and CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state appropriations from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org
DID YOU KNOW? A new report by Standard & Poor’s predicts that the economic output in the West South Central region, which includes Oklahoma and four other states, will grow by more than 3.67 percent, leading the rest of the country.