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How Intel wrote a business plan without committing to one

Take a look at Intel’s business plan (typos and all), circa 1968:

The company will engage in research, development, adn manufacture, and sales of integrated electronic structures to fulfill the needs of electronic systems manufacturers. This will include thin films, thick films, semiconductor devices, and other solid state components used in hybrid and monolithic integrated structures. A variety of processes will be established, both at a laboratory and at at a production level. These include crystal growth, slicing, lapping, polishing, solid state diffusion, photolithographic masking and etching, vacuum evaporation, film deposition, assembly, packaging, and testing, as well as the development and manufacture of special processing and testing equipment required to carry out these processes. Products may include dioded, transistors, field effect devices, photo sensitive devices, integrated circuits, and subsystems commonly referred to by the phrase “large scale integration”. Principal customers for these products are expected to be the manufacturers of advanced electronic systems for communications, radar, control, and data processing. It is anticipated that many of these customers will be located outside of California. Today, Intel is a multi-billion dollar company. Note that they acknowledge uncertainty, with the word “may”.

To me, it looks as though they intentionally wanted to avoid committing to specific product type, while still ticking the box that they have a business plan. The point of business plans isn’t to have a business plan. It’s to make your assumptions explicit, so that you can test them.

In fact, according to the old Startup Genome report on why startups fail, 70% of startups fail because they try to scale up, without having verified enough of their assumptions.

Best of all, verifying an assumption doesn’t require a full business plan.

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