“Don’t think of it as a lie, think of it as the truth about events that haven’t happened yet.”
Harvey Street Kids

Forecasting, whether it is for budgeting, business plans or even product roadmaps, is as much an art as it is a science. The forecasts that startups put together can have big impacts; they are used by investors, customers and even employees who are all evaluating your prospects for future success in different ways. It can be important to set appropriate expectations.

Even when grounded with recent real numbers forecasts can only ever be best guesses. Often included in the mix is your own current sense of optimism (or lackoff – we’re on a rollercoaster) about the business, client traction and recent form on product delivery; a set of subjective measures that can change with the weather.

Day-to-day business

But it is important to have optimistic ambition in your forecasts as stakeholders are listening. The trouble is it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of sticking to what you consider to be realistic. Imagining what’s possible and what’s realistic are rarely the same. Between these bedfellows lies a kind of scale of personal incredulity with sensible and ridiculous at each end. The reasoning goes something like this:

  1. It might be possible but it’s beyond an explanation I can put together today.
  2. Therefore it’s not realistic and should be dropped from any serious forecast.

This is a mistake and results in forecasts that are more than likely too conservative. Just because you can’t conceive how it is possible doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

ShareIn has grown quickly over recent years. We’ve won new clients, employed a great team and developed our products and services. We’ve marched past target ambitions that at one point did not seem at all realistic. Now they are milestones on our bigger journey.

At many stages in this journey the getting part of getting where we are today seemed incredible. But with hindsight it now seems inevitable. You may counter that being realistic stops you being ridiculous and I get that. But don’t let being realistic inadvertently curtail your ambition. Have faith that you’ll figure out a way through, not religious faith, but a faith that goes with determined hard work and optimism; you will get there.

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