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20 Often-Fatal Assumptions

I am often asked by corporations to give some illustrations of assumptions that have caused  more trouble than they had any right to in the development of new business plans.  Here, for your edification and amusement, are twenty of the ones that have popped up frequently and which have often led otherwise sensible new ventures astray:


  1. Other divisions in the company will be glad to help
  2. All we need is 5% market share!
  3. The firm will surely support the best strategy for our unit
  4. We will have no trouble attracting the right people to work on the project
  5. Competitors will roll over and play dead – or hey, maybe they won't notice your taking market share away from them
  6. Competitors are too…dumb, insignificant, small, unproven, badly capitalized or un-interesting…to worry about
  7. We can use the same key performance indicators in new markets that we use in existing markets (ditto for funding strategies, planning processes, reward systems…)
  8. Customers will buy it because it has these neat features!
  9. Customers won't feel that buying from us is risky
  10. Customers won't mind switching suppliers and will be happy to take on whatever work is involved
  11. We can create a compelling first-mover advantage (corollary:  we have to spend a lot to get in first and obtain significant market share so that we can protect our position)
  12. We can develop what we need on time and on budget
  13. It will sell itself!
  14. We will be able to hold our prices and gain market share
  15. There is no real competition for what we offer
  16. Joint venture and alliance partners, and our own suppliers, share our objectives
  17. We won't need to engage in training for suppliers, distributors or customers
  18. The technically superior product will triumph
  19. We can create new markets where there is no competition, quickly
  20. Our projections will be accurate

Have a look at your business plans for a new project and see if any of these little bombshells are lurking there – forewarned is forearmed!

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