RW: I believe that as an entrepreneur you have to really trust your intuition. Your contingency plan comes from what you learn in the marketplace.
SA: Banks and investors don't like to hear that.
RW: For every rule there are rule breakers. A client of mine just received a $200K unsecured loan based on his intuition for the market and his stated reasons why his business will be a success. He had proven that he was a successful entrepreneur by finding out what worked in the marketplace, found another niche and decided to go after it.
SA: So he had a track record.
Yes - and that is exactly what I want people to do - get a track record. A bank won't fund a start up business plan without some kind of assets or track record. More importantly though is to discover a way to establish the track record without a loan. Find a way to start your dream in steps, then use the funds you create to expand.
For instance a client wanted to start a bar, but couldn't get money or funding. I asked, "What is your intent? What is the benefit to others? That is where you start." And he said, "I want to create a gathering place where people can share conversation, gather together, have a drink." I said, "How can we do that right now - without funding?" We discovered a restaurant that wanted to create a bar area within their space but did not want to run it. He started his "bar" in a place that already had insurance, employees, licenses, etc.... He got to test the market out, then use his money to fund another bar.
Find a way to do it - take action - make it a reality. And stop confusing activity with progress. Just because you create a business plan does not mean that your business has moved forward. You are not selling to yourself - you are selling to others.
SA: So, do you see bootstrapping becoming more the norm these days, especially in wake of the misspent millions from the dot-com heyday?
RW: YES! You have to "prove" yourself and your concept before anyone will listen.
SA: Frankly, I think the current economic downturn, with over 10% of the workforce un- or under-employed, we're getting ready to enter a new entrepreneurial Golden Age.
RW: I agree about the Golden Age. We got a taste of what we can accomplish during the dot.com era - now we have to go do it ourselves. The funny thing is that now that we are focusing on "benefit" you are seeing the Internet being used to help others rather than just get "eyeballs".
SA: And because of the lack of funding, people are going to have to make business models that work before they're even going to get far enough with it to make a major venture out of it.
RW: Great! Business models that work!!! Prove it to me! Then create an action plan to show me how you are going to use the money to grow - and how it will work. Connect it to the real world! Also as you test it out, you are willing to change it based on what you find. If you define your product or service in a business plan, people feel as if they are failures if they change it. Define it, test it, change it to meet your customer needs is the real way.
SA: By the way, you're in good company with this opinion. Jim Jacobus, one of the top sales and sales management consultants/trainers around, says that he doesn't do business plans - only marketing plans. He says that a business plan is limiting, because when you hit it, you quit.
RW: Ah - and marketing is the hardest part of growing any business. I agree with that.
SA: With his marketing plans, he just says, "If we hit this level, we do this marketing, and at this level, we do this..."
RW: I like that. And it all starts by defining what you want to achieve based on your passion - then test it out in the real world. By starting from your passion - you will start from benefit. AND PEOPLE BUY BENEFIT! And the world changes so fast that by the time you develop a business plan and "get buy in", someone has already done it - or the world has changed!