3. Whatever your business plan is, it’s wrong.

No matter how intricate or conceptually sound it is, count on your strategy being flawed in crucial ways. You will come face to face with these flaws as you attempt to turn theoretical plans into reality. It’s inevitable. What some people mistakenly do is continue to follow the initial plan instead of adapting. This stubbornness is like refusing to patch a leak in your ship’s hull. Having the good sense to patch it up and steer the craft away from the rocks is a vital skill to develop. Those who are more risk-averse will hate the uncertainties that those changes bring, but the flexible “let’s figure this out” mentality will serve a team well.

When Jonathan Rosenberg joined Google in 2002, he was alarmed that there was no written strategy for the company. He immediately tried to put the strategy on paper, but his colleagues strongly discouraged this, and he eventually came to see the wisdom to their thwarting him. There was already a solid strategic foundation—at least spoken—and this had been sufficient since Google’s founding in 1998. The conventional approach of formally putting a strategy on paper with i’s dotted and t’s crossed is to create a relic. It’s destined for irrelevance.

Know the foundational strategic elements—beyond that, just be flexible and ready to change course.

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