If you're serious about learning to develop a business strategy, give Bob Iger's Masterclass a try:

From managing risk to leading with courage and optimism, Disney CEO Bob Iger teaches you the strategies behind his success.

Lessons include topics like: using your time effectively, strategy and priorities, business acquisition, the art of negotiation, creating brand value, expanding your brand, anticipating consumers needs, risk-taking, industry disruption, rules for success, and the future of business strategy.

Single best tip for developing a business strategy

The only business plan you should have is "make money fast" or "fail fast". Don't take years just scraping by with your business. Time is money.

Find out what you can sell, how and to whom, fast. I used to work for a company that was very successful and our company president got us managers together to instruct us - these were his first words. I followed this religiously when I started my own business and it paid off very well.

Don't be a perfectionist with your business plan

"Perfect' is the enemy of "Good".

Develop a business plan. You need a business plan that will get you started, so you can get to work, learn and come back to it. It's a living document.

Keep it simple.

Read this one book.


Download this free business plan outline.

How develop a solid business plan

Google some detailed templates. I have a business degree and wrote some plans in school. I dug those out of the archives for my plan and just rewrote it all.

Think of who the audience is for your plan. Is this for a bank loan? Investors? To keep yourself organized and on track? Tailor the plan for that.

My first plan was pretty detailed because of the audience(applying for a loan). You'll need estimated financial statements and a lot of detail on how the business will operate. At the end of the day though the banks are incentivized to give this loan out so work with the bank as well if you plan on going that route, ask what they want to see.

Don't bullshit. If you don't know, say you don't know. These thinks are meant to be early stage. Its more important that you are passionate rater than an expert.

Remember you don't have years to put everything together, so go to the core of the problem. Even if you think the business could be broader, its better to really narrow for now.

Most people confuse investors because they present a huge issue and assume the investors are technical experts and know what they are talking about. In 90% of the cases they don't and it's you who need to make sure everyone will understand your business plan. Write so that a 12-year old will understand what you're talking about.

Do you need a degree to develop a solid business strategy?

With regards to whether you should go ahead and do the Masters, I can't make that decision for you! For me, I have no regrets about doing it, however there is one caveat I'll touch upon in a second.

It has taught me a lot about business, particularly the theory behind it. It wasn't particularly applied, although they did their best to make it that way.

More importantly, though, exposed me to all sorts of awesome topics and subjects. We did modules in Industrial Economics, Management Accounting, Globalisation and Business, and numerous other things.

However it also taught me that business was not what I wanted to do with my life. It just seemed too fuzzy, and to be quite honest, I felt far more challenged and interested in the non-business modules.

It's lead me to a Big 3 company in SF for a training contract now... so take from that what you will!

I'd think carefully about what type of business you want to do before you settle on a specific course

However, a more general business course will set you up with a stronger all-round business acumen, and understanding of marketing as a more of a philosophy, as opposed to a practice, which is something awesome to get to grips with. It'll also give you more diverse exit opportunities, and set you up for a later career in something broader.

However, if you do want to do that - I'd recommend going for something which'll give you maximum exposure to lots of types of business types, or even marketing. That way, you'll both learn about them so can go into them, but also you'll learn what you enjoy, and what you're good at. Pays not to pigeonhole yourself early in your career, in my opinion.

Do you absolutely need ot have a business plan when starting your business?

No, unless you're applying for a loan or talking with investors, you don't have to do it. Most business plans aren't grounded in reality anyway and are an excuse for inaction. However, several years later, I am now working on one. I know what kind of business I'm building, what the needs of the market are, how my numbers need to add up, etc. I have years of real, historical data to base projections on.

If I had started a business with a well-defined business model and large capital requirements (resturant, auto repair shop, etc), a business plan would have made a lot more sense in the beginning.

Data science and business strategy intersection

In general, learning programming, data science, and automation were the things that helped me the most with my career.

Been doing this type of work in a business intel/data analytics type of role. Picking up data science techniques (already know Python, always learning though) has helped me identify, for example, certain insights within our customer base that would make our digital marketing initiatives more efficient. This reduced our CAC by like 30%. Also able to increase conversion.

Outside of marketing, its similar to market research to see what opportunities are out there that could make us money and what markets to penetrate. Been very interesting so far.

You also do some vendor management on the operations side. Helps with financial planning and analysis somewhat too.

How should one go about a business exit strategy

There are a few different ways to exit. Regardless of that, everybody will exit at some point.

Either you sell it, you close it, you pass on to a younger family member, OR you simply won't be there anymore (as in walking away feet first). As an entrepreneur, one way or another, someday in the future you ARE going to exit. The big question is: How.

Having an exit plan well designed doesn't mean there's no commitment. In fact I see a good exit plan as a goal and a motivator to get committed and build that business strong. You need to:

  • Shape the business based on clearly designed procedures
  • Make it people-independent (anyone should be replaceable, including or especially yourself)
  • Build systems, easy to replicate and scale
  • Delegate
  • Make it turnkey so it can be sold eventually.

If you don't do this, you'll exit anyway, but your exit might be a sad one.

Oh - and figure out in advance whether you need to exit asap next, as in market shifted and your business might not be there soon. Happens.

Why aren't official SAS courses free?

If you ever go on one, or even do the online self-taught ones, you will soon see why.

You get what you pay for.

And they don't care about everyone learning their language to do SAS projects in their spare time in the dorm room, they care about getting as many corporates and government agencies on the books as possible.

Check their Youtube channel. They got a lot of awesome free content: