A: On the first floor of the Rock Center at HBS there is a copy of the original business plan that Arthur Rock wrote for Intel some 40 years ago.
It's only a few pages long, but it describes an outstanding team pursuing a new technology.
Q: If you were to update your "Glossary of Business Plan Terms" and what they really mean ("We seek a value-added investor" really means "We are looking for a passive, dumb-as-rocks investor"), what current terms would you include? I think entrepreneurs, investors, and employees need to be suitably skeptical about what they read in business plans.
I have read perhaps 5,000 plans and have only seen three companies really meet their plan. If anyone makes a bet based on the company doing exactly as written, he or she will be sadly disappointed.
Q: Any general advice to entrepreneurs seeking funding in the uncertain capital markets of today?
A: The best money comes from customers, not external investors.
I emphasized the notion that successful entrepreneurs constantly seek the right mixture of people, opportunity, context, and deal.Also, we have difficult factor markets like energy, but that simply means that there are great opportunities for people with ideas for alternative energy.Were I rewriting the article today, I might emphasize the importance of controlling your destiny by being conservative about access to capital.Q: More and more entrepreneurial ventures are "born global": They seek to address a global market and attract funding from global investors.Should a business plan be tailored in some way for a global audience?I explain that I would need to get to know them and their opportunity much better than what is possible in an e-mail and that the written document is not as important as the people writing it. Q: In the decade since the original article came out, business conditions have changed. If gaining access to capital is hard, sometimes that means there will be fewer competitors.