In terms of business plans interestingly I
was in a seminar that Accion does for those looking to do micro finance internationally
and one of the presenters, one of the professors all they do is teach on business plans and
ventures and new start-ups. And he pretty much said that he has seen ventures succeed
with and without business plans. So first let me say it’s not the paper that matters.
What, what they would tell you is it’s how well the ideas fit. The congruence between
what you bring as the entrepreneur, the team that you’re bringing as part of your new effort,
the opportunity that you’re trying to pursue, so what is it that your team knows about the—they
think they’re going to pursue to make them successful. If you have investors, what the
investors provide and how that fits into this. And then, ultimately, the business model.
And, and where all of these pieces have to be a fit. You can put it on paper or you may
just know, and I’ll give you a simple example. There’s a brother-sister team that we funded
where both of them were engineers. One was in chemistry, so really understood all the
different things about taste, and one had more of a kind of process background. And
what they wanted to do was create a popsicle brewed with tea but have it be real and tasty
and have as long a shelf—shelf life as you can. What was nice about the team is that
they were able to compliment each other’s areas of expertise. So one knows about taste
perfectly, which is pretty important if you can do something in food, and the other knew
a lot about process which is also very important when you’re taking something that’s frozen
and if it has to be delivered has to be delivered in pretty much the same state that it was
manufactured. So those are the examples of good complimentary skills and the business
plan and the opportunities are, are things that you have to also be able to communicate.
I think anyone that’s looking at you is going to value why is there an opportunity and why
is it that you’re able to address it better than someone else? So, to the extent that
you have an ability to show how you’re going to begin to sell, but that’s also very critical.
But the congruence of all these pieces, there are a lot of templates out there. This is
fortunately one of those things that very easy to get information on, and the one thing
I would tell all business owners is, while the templates for creating a business plan
are free, and while advice in terms of how to augment it is free, you actually have to
do the work because only you know why it’s an opportunity and what you can contribute.
So, you can’t outsource your business plan or your brains to someone else. You can outsource
the writing and you can outsource the structure and you can outsource the elements of the
financial analysis. If you’re not good at math, no problem. But you can’t outsource
why your idea is so brilliant because nobody will have that insight but you. And I would
also encourage business owners to leverage all the free resources because there are many,
many groups that provide this kind of support for free.