Right-Brain Business Plan

On January 25, 2013 I wrote a post entitled “Lost In the Details” in which I discussed my proclivity to avoid the micro-details that come with starting a business and more specifically creating a business plan. At the time I bought a book (mentioned in the post) that I believed would help me with the pesky details that I was so inclined to avoid.

It didn’t.

I fell asleep every time I tried to read it.

This is a problem that a lot creative types have with creating a business. They are bored or overwhelmed by the business side and thus end up abandoning the whole project or going on without a business plan, both of which are problematic.

When I started working on my business plan (which I did abandon after a while) I tried many different tactics to convince myself that despite how much I hated the process, creating a stale, static, business plan was good for me and a necessary endeavor. I soon realized that while it is good to push oneself and creating a business plan is crucial to creating a successful business, it also shouldn’t bore one to tears.

In my first business plan attempt I went in with the mentality that this was for other people. My business plan was to show others that I had a viable/functional, intelligently composed, highly detailed business and not just a hobby. I used language that was foreign to me and completely uninspiring. The format was a dull, black-and-white Word document that, much like my résumé, made me want to throw up.

Needless to say, I abandoned the endeavor all together.

Then I found this book:

Find it at your local bookstore or library!

Find it at your local bookstore or library!

It shocked me. I had no idea that constructing a business plan could be a fun and creative process. It also made me realize that a business plan is for the person creating it, not necessarily for the rest of the world. Sure, it is not encouraged that one take a hand-constructed collage, or poster to a meeting with investors or potential clients, but it is necessary to articulate to oneself what needs to be done and what one wants from one’s own business.

When I was taking that grant writing class (as mentioned in previous posts, including the aforementioned “Lost In the Details”) I must confess that I really struggled with the class because the jargon used did not construct a clear vision to me of what was essential to the organization and grant proposal. Sometimes the professional world uses overly-complicated language to mean the simplest of concepts and it can be a hindrance to those who don’t “speak that language.”

That’s what I appreciate about “The Right-Brain Business Plan;” it encourages artists and creative types to use their own language to describe the concepts that are necessary to understand for a successful business. After the right-brainer constructs their own version of a business plan, with all the elements that a traditional business plan has, it will make it much easier to create a more formal plan to use in meetings with investors or clients.

So if the idea of writing a business plan sounds like a grueling, tear and sleep-inducing process, check out “The Right-Brain Business Plan” and/or http://www.rightbrainbusinessplan.com/.

The Business Section

By Paulsmarsden (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Today I have created my own business section for you. I have compiled some links to articles and business resources that may be useful if you are looking to start your own business as well as some interesting/inspirational pieces. This is particularly geared toward those who would like to start a small business in “developed” countries and in particular the US.

For general business resources including mentoring, workshops, templates & tools, and definitions for business related terms here are two resources:

http://www.score.org/ -A lot of great resources are provided like how to write a business plan, and information on the legal, financial, marketing, and management sides of a business.

http://www.investopedia.com/ -This has a great business dictionary, professional quizzes and tests, personal finance and investing advice.

Another good resource to have is a funding source like kickstarter.com. Kickstarter funds creative projects and has funded over 42,000 projects to date. Micro-loans are also available (as I have talked about a lot on this blog) and are not just for those of developing countries. Kiva.org is a great resource for that.

Here are a couple of articles that challenge some of the traditional ideas in business:

An article on creating a Business plan or business map?

Another article that challenges the need to attend business school

Finally, an inspirational yet in some ways challenging article about a business that I frequent and its business model: “For-Benefit” business

I’d like to end this post by encouraging you, if you are a budding entrepreneur, to think creatively about your business and find out how you can make a greater impact worldwide as well as in your community with it as a for-benefit business. Henry David Thoreau advised individuals to “be not simply good; be good for something,” but his advice can also apply to business. For-benefit businesses seeks to not only provide a good product and good service but also be “good for something” as well.

Lost in the details

While I don’t believe that the world is ever completely divided into two separate categories, there are definite opposing sides to any issue. That being said, in the working world there are two main groups of people: big picture and detail-oriented. Again, people are usually on some sort of scale with regard to the two as their gifts and talents are a bit more nuanced than black and white, but to make matters simple, people usually define themselves as one or the other.

I would consider myself to be one of those big picture people. The details usually overwhelm me if I don’t overlook them completely. The problem with starting a business is that if one is doing it alone, one must do both the big picture and detail-oriented stuff. Today I am working on the details. Needless to say, it is rough. I’m reading a book entitled “The Perfect Business Plan Made Simple.” It’s thrilling. I think I’ve spent more time staring out the window than actually reading it. It does have some valuable information, but the language and details get to me. I felt the same way when I took a grant writing class in my final semester in college. Grant writing is a highly detail-oriented aspect of non-profits and after not being in the class for long, I began to feel like I really didn’t belong there. At one point the professor made a joke about how the big picture people in a non-profit have their heads in the clouds while everyone else is getting stuff done. Everyone in the class laughed, including me for a bit until I realized that she was essentially talking about me. (She later professed that big-picture people are important to the organization too, but it was obvious that she didn’t quite understand them.) One of the most frustrating things about being big-picture is that there are no entry-level jobs other than self-starting.

The thing about self-starting is that while it is touted as a primarily big-picture person activity, it requires a lot of work in the details. It feels like I can’t win. I can only find two solutions to this problem: really push myself out of my comfort-zone, or get a business partner.

The Details of a Business Plan:

Outline
A. Contents
B. Executive Summary
C. Mission and Strategy Statement
D. Market
1. Background
2. The Customer Need
3. Who the Customers Are
4. Product/Service Description
5. Strategy/Approach
6. Competitive Analysis
7. Pricing/Profitability
E. Operations (of the Business)
1. Sources of Input and Costs
2. Processes
3. Equipment
F. Management/Staffing
1. Backgrounds and Qualifications of Key Players
2. Staffing Plan
G. Financial Projections
1. Current Financials (if an Existing Business)
2. Projected Financial Statement
3. Application of Funding Requested
4. Capital Structure
H. Contingency Planning
1. Appendices
-supporting documents
-additional detail as required