Business Plan(ning)

I honestly love to write business plans. Even if they are not my ideas or go nowhere, I love the mind play that goes into the step-by-step expansion of an idea.

Much of this starts out on my chalkboard wall, with a thought web. From the central concept, I’ll draw out Vision Statement, Mission Statement, Product & Services, Target Market, Competition, Market Strategy (Advertising, Public Relations, Direct Response, Interactive Communications, Sales Promotion, Personal Selling, Event Marketing & Sponsorships), Location, Management & Legal Organization and Human Resources. These are the key points that all need elaboration before you can start to play with numbers. And play with numbers is just that – they are projected figures that in no way guarantee that’s the financial position your new business will land you in right off the bat. How easy it is to get caught up in those numbers! You’ll need statements of Projected Cash Flow for the first 2 (two) years of your business, as well as 12 (twelve) Projected Income Statements, 1 (one) for each month of your first year of business.

A former co-worker, turned friend, recently had a major step move forward with her organic dog biscuits business. Almost 2 (two) years ago, she shared her need to make more income and the idea to expand on her dog biscuit making, whom so many of her friends and co-workers’ dogs were enjoying. We met periodically to work on a business plan outline I shared with her. I know she was overwhelmed at first, that I suggested she create such a detailed essay, but I assured her it was okay not to have all the answers right away, and to just let the format sink in. A good business is not rushed; the ideas and inspiration flow once you allow the seed to grow at its own pace. Surely, she completed the outline. A graphic designer herself, she designed all of the packaging and promotional materials herself. She has an Etsy page: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/MamaDeesBakery?ref=search_shop_redirect which allowed her a Location, that did not cost rent, and allowed secure online ordering, and custom delivery instructions per order. She rents a table at the local Farmers Market monthly, and has most recently secured her first retail shelves at our local Global Pet Foods, here in Grande Prairie. With a fair price of under $10/box, no preservative ingredients and ease of purchase, she is building brand loyalty, garnering many fans, and getting to know people’s pups and their individual needs. I believe she has accomplished her initial goal, and reaped many unexpected rewards at the same time.

This is the type of joy I love to share with people, and why I love being an idea builder.

Self publishing

Who self publishes? Anyone, really. Anyone who needs to share what they’re passionate about, wants to see their material in a collective physical form, wants to be an authority on certain subject matter, and so on. Text books, cook books, novels, instructional manuals, etc…

My varied skills over the years have led me to feel competent in the production of books. I start with an idea of my own. I brainstorm over time, gathering aspects of the build. Many times I build thought-webs on my chalkboard wall, breaking down the stages of a business plan. These days it’s not just about writing a book, essentially that’s the difference with self publishing. You are controlling the production, printing, distribution, marketing and advertising, all the good and the bad. There really aren’t publishing houses that take on independent projects. This is the grey area I find myself in. I enjoy building project ideas, researching, sourcing out the people I see as needing to be involved, listening to their ideas and their perspective and background, learning from others’ talents, photographing, designing the pages, visual storytelling.. I love it all! I feel incredibly fortunate to receive the ideas I do to lead the type of career I’m building for myself.

As grateful as I am for my skills, I’m aware of my weaknesses. I understand marketing but I’m not sure it’s my first thinking. I love having a marketing native along side to play off ideas with. Similarly, distribution is a specialty area, and one I believe I have narrow thinking towards. I suppose I’m learning I excel at creating projects, but I need to work with others in best selling them to all applicable markets. So, I ask questions, I seek out mentors and build teams for myself.

I like handling long term and short term projects. It keep things fresh but also keeps me committed to seeing projects through.