It's that time of year again...
...when, just like the snow guns at Stratton in mid-November, and the family's angst over Uncle Ernie, once again, making a fool of himself at Thanksgiving, the pressure's on to submit the perfect 2014 business plan to the board or your boss by December 1st.
Which is why we wrote the book, Writing the Winning Business Plan...
- a 75 page free download
- a detailed blend for venture-backed startups and established businesses
- hands-on and battle tested with both great successes and dismal failures
- startups looking for seed and Series A venture funding
- established companies between $10-$100m in revenues
A Few New Rules...
Between the firm and my work at Common Angels, I probably "read" 500 "business plans" a year. Some are tomes of 25 text-driven pages with carefully crafted financials and tables, while others are poorly pasted together pitch decks with 10 badly done slides. The best are created by highly experienced CFOs, like Mike McEachern at Brainshark, Ken Goldman at Black Duck Software, and Dennis Hanson at Steinway, who take on the added responsibility of being the business plan czars at thier companies since they have both a top-down and bottoms-up view of their businesses. Those that are created by first time entrepreneurs, are generally okay for outlining the concept at least to the point where the reader can decide whether it's worth his or her time to engage in a follow up call.
But all of this assumes that someone "reads" the document that you've laboriously poured your heart, soul and money into. In my own case, the act of "reading" might consist of sitting down in my office early on Saturday morning and going through the details. Other times, I might be in front of the TV watching the game and waiting for the commercials to do a quick flip-through. In the summer, I'm headed to the beach most weekends with a bag holding 5 or 10 plans that I've printed out because I'm not going to bring my electronic toys anywhere near the sun and water anymore. At the end of any of these processes-the thorough read or the quick flip through-all I'm trying to do is make a judgment as to which ones I am going to take the time to follow up with in a longer call.
So, in addition to all of the 75 pages of the ideas and tips in our ebook, what is most important for you to think about is that your business or sales plan needs to personally and emotionally grab the reader's attention. Pull them up from their comfortable chair, shake them around a bit and shout out..."Keep reading!", "Don't you dare put me down!"
What could you do in the imaging, the coloration and the presentation formats of your text and PPT docs that would be be more alluring and have more appeal to look further? There's a reason that Victoria Secret is a $6 billion corporate powerhouse with $1 billion in net income, and that their annual pre-Christmas runway show typically overwhelms numerous website capacities.
Think about how might your media look more like a Mercedes or Porsche ad rather than one for a Ford Focus?
Tell Me a Story...
Which does remind me of an important tip. Make sure that you put your cell phone number and your email address everywhere throughout the plan. I can't tell you how many times, I've become engaged in a document and then had to go searching for the writer's contact info.
Good writing...and Selling!
Each semester at Tufts, over a period of 13 weeks, I engage 30-35 students in a unique, hands-on, tools-based experience of preparing them for the real world of business in general and specifically the complexities of working in today's environment of Marketing and Sales.
Which leads me to look for 6 new companies each semester.
Right now, I'm taking applications for the spring, 2014 semester. If you're interested, please email me at email@example.com, and I will send you an overview of what's involved and instructions. Last June, we had 32 companies request information, and we accepted 6. A truly unique opportunity for both your company and our students.
The 2014 Sales Management Boot Camp: April 6th-8th
Click HERE for information about our next Sales Management Boot Camp.
- Perfectly timed for new sales management skills for 2014
- Focused on you and what it takes to enable your team
- Process, tools, tactics, and technology in a Sales 2.0 world
- Only 30 managers are accepted
- Always sold out so register early!