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In small firms, entrepreneurs top-down
or a bottom-up effort

Process map for bottom-up or entrepreneur meetingsBottom-up planners and entrepreneurs jump at the opportunity. They adapt quickly to changes in the market.

First, I'll discuss the process in a small firm or a start-up entrepreneur.

Then I'll discuss a bottom-up approach in a larger firm with an entrepreneurial approach is needed to sell an idea up to senior executives.

The process begins to shift when the team decides to focus mostly on high margin customers.


Key words

Risk taker, innovator, visionary, change agent, champion, intuition, passion — words that describe people who systematically pursue opportunities. They sell quality, value, simplier, smarter, better price to their customers.


Strategies emerge from their work, once they are successful in the market. The team of key players is smaller; funding the initial work is challenging. Commitment is paramount — faith in the idea and the team. Learning is rapid, and lessons learned quickly incorporated. Focus, focus, focus and more focus. These folks are not romantic heroes. This is hard work and the key effort/measure is growing market share.

Strategic Planning Process

This strategy formulation process is less formal, sometimes its fast; the team works closely together frequently. Consensus evolves from dozens of conversations. I'll describe the process from two perspectives: inside a small firm and inside a large, complex organization.

An Idea Emerges

Process map for meeting sequence for an entrepreneur It's exciting and starts informally as other buy-in and a coalition develops.

Define Your Purpose

Overtime, a few people in many conversations identify the purpose and a team forms.

Assess the market

They interact with potential customers to assess the market.

What did we learn?

Over dinners, lunches, office meetings, socially, by email, they discuss what they learned and an idea emerges.

Assess the options?

An idea evolves into product or service. The strategic planning team considers options on how to proceed and the initial startup costs.

Where Do We Get the Funding

At some point, the strategic planning coalition needs start-up funding. These meetings are more formal - you now have to formulate the strategy.

How to get funding? Who helps?

The agenda is to identify funding sources and who needs to be influenced to support the funding?

Draft the business plan

To this point, a cocktail napkin may have been enough documentation. Now, a business plan must be prepared that will educate the reader about the concept and convince them to give you their money.

Present it to potential funders

Most of the time, before someone will give you their money, they want to meet you and "see" what you have to say. These presentations must be solid and convincing. Who needs to be there? Where? How long?

Test If It Works

You bring the product or service to market — the strategy is in place. Now less conceptual work, more focus on getting it done.

Demonstrate it

A key step in strategy formulation is a simple demonstration of the product to a test market roll-out, before you'll get more money, folks need to see your customers like you concept.

What did we learn?

You are almost guaranteed that you be adapting your ideas as soon as you show it to potential customers.

Make adjustments

You reassess, consider your options and costs, and could go through the steps again.

Small Firm and Entrepreneur Timelines

In a small firm, the process I just described goes faster.

Folks involved

A small core team - keep it small until it is proven in the market place. Time to market is more important than hundreds of meetings to build consensus.


Entrepreneur strategy formulation timelines



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