What role does planning have in ensuring rapid and sustainable growth? What are some good planning frameworks?

Evan is the CEO and co-founder of Abnormal Security. In this class, Evan breaks down what a functional and effective culture of leadership means at enterprise startups, and the best ways to foster that culture. Prior to Abnormal, Evan most recently led product and machine learning teams at Twitter after co-founding successful companies including Bloomspot, acquired by JPMorgan Chase, and AdStack, acquired by TellApart.

Evan: Yeah, so I don't, I don't know if it was like a great planning framework, that, there's really not one that we [00:42:00] use. I think one, maybe just the simple stuff I think has been effective for us.

One is just like really planning with the end in mind. And working backwards from where you want to be. historically, personally I've found that I take the, the go-forward planning. I'm always thinking about what's the next one step forward. It can always feel like you're making progress, but tends to be very, incremental and a little evolutionary on the other hand, if you're really, if you really have audacious goals about where do you want to be and how do you get, What is an amazing future world.

you want to live in the future and then work backwards, That tends to yields more, revolutionary plans are really about dramatically changing how you work. I think, other stuff I think has been very effective for us is, just being really, you're just spending a lot of time on planning, right?

and treating it as like a rigorous exercise where we're looking at, we're getting like into the spreadsheets, into the plans, or even though it's like far off, but it's really good to understand just what does it really take, If you want to, if you want to be a public company five years from when you started what's required there, right?

Evan: What are the financial [00:43:00] requirements where the product requirements and the business requirements,what does that, what does that look like? at every, every quarter going backwards to the today, Going to the next level of detail about, okay, inside your gross margin, What are the components? What really matters, what efficiencies need to be true at different quarters as the company advances. So they're getting to the next level of detail. I think a lot of companies, they have the high level plan. But they don't have the DoubleClick, I think us going to the double click or triple click version of, getting really in the details of like exactly how we're going to do this.

Even when it takes, it takes time out of execution, it puts it more into this kind of planning. I think that's actually been a good process for us. And I think just in hindsight and some of my past lives, I wish I'd spent more time in kind of planning. And it's very easy to, it's easy to underestimate, how much time and money you can save by building kind of rigorous plans.

so the kind of third and final thing, I think that's really important for planning is to really understand, I think some of the underlying kind of unit economics and almost like the, yeah, like the unit economics of the business. because I think that your [00:44:00] confidence in those,can really help you decide, how fast or slow you want to scale the business.

Evan: And a lot of the kind of, more surface level metrics, things like revenue, things like burn rate, things like head counts, Which are, obviously those are the metrics that are showing your board slides, but those don't always show The true, scalability of the business.

So instead you can look at okay, for individual customer, how much, how much, what's our revenue, how much of that revenue is going to all of our kind of gross margin items, whether it's AWS or customer supports, What is left right out of what's left. How much of that we spend on sales and marketing, And then like how much, and then how long does it take for, whatever profit comes out of a cosmic, how long does it take for that to pay back the cost of sales and marketing right. For a customer, you understand that is, is it profitable right? For you to be,selling to more customers right after you've paid for sales and marketing and all your other stuff.

If not, right then you, you probably need to think about how do you create customers to pay more, or how do you reduce the cost of distribution, if [00:45:00] so, And you feel happy with the kind of the financial outputs of that, right? Then you have a lot more permission to go scan, invest in the business.

Evan: But if you're flying blind, you don't really know. what is it, what does it mean? And where's your money going and is it worth scaling then? You're not really making a very informed opinion about what is the kind of right level of kind of growth and scale, and maybe even worse, right?

You may be flying blind, not realizing there's more kind of systematic problems, With a business model, or the product or the market you're in that, unless you don't really dig in, you may not realize that. And that may, you may end up right. With a different type of business than you thought, because like the economics just don't work out at the micro level.

So I think that the best companies, We'll really go into the details there and really understand like just how the business actually works, From a,from, at the spreadsheet level. Versus kinda just like the theoretical, pitch level.

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