The difference between a financial pro forma and reality is risk.
It is the CEO’s job to make the business plan on paper into a reality. It’s easier said than done, of course, but that’s your role and it’s worth remembering constantly.
Contrary to popular belief that entrepreneurs are wild risk seekers, successful entrpreneurial CEOs are/should be pro-active risk managers.
As CEO, you should actively reduce the risk present in your financial forecasts. Whether you’re going from $0 in revenues to $1 million, or $500 million to $600 million, it ain’t going to happen just because you say so.
With growth comes numerous assumptions about what will work in your marketplace and within your company.
The four big categories of risk, in order of importance, to any venture (but especially a new tech venture) are:
1) customer acceptance risk
2) distribution channel acceptance risk
3) technology feasibility risk
4) execution risk
1) Do customers actually want to buy what you’re selling?
2) Will the method you intend to use to sell your product (e.g., sales force, indirect sales channel, online, etc.) actually work like you expect it to?
3) Will your product actually do what it is supposed to do?
4) Can your organization actually get things done on time, every time?
As you can see, there are a lot of if’s.
Incidentally, if a company is struggling, you can often look to these four risk areas for the answers.
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