I don’t even have to think about it. Your biggest DO to grow and scale: get your business plan in order! Let’s dispel the misconception that it has to be 75 pages long and contain every single element traditionally required by old school business plan writers.
And here is the biggest NOT to do: write page after page about your vision, and why everyone loves your style, talent, and uniqueness. Leave out the part about how you are recognized as a leader in the fashion industry and considered a style icon. While we are at it, did you know that putting down successful competitors is the biggest turnoff for anyone reading your business plan, including your potential investors? Instead, focus on your authority platform.
Let’s go over the DO list in greater detail:
- Start with financials. Yes, I mean the really boring and horrifically uninspiring numbers that demonstrate you know how to start your business, how it will grow, how you will build it to break-even, and how you will scale it to profitability.
- Include clearly outlined ideas on how you may sell your business in the future, even if that is the last thing on your mind right now. Missing this can be the biggest issue down the road when a profitable acquisition offer is on the table, especially if you secured angel funding in your early stage.
- Know your business end goal before you seek funding. Not all funding is equal. Never give up equity unless you have exhausted all other options because you may lose some control over your business. And frankly, the payday is better when you own equity.
- Understand that anyone you are talking to about finances, from the banker to the angel investor, is only interested in how you are going to make THEM more money.
- Realize that ideally, your investors will like your product, but that it’s not a requirement. They are only interested in your potential to make THEM money. This point gets overlooked a lot. Most creative types consider the investor as a kind of “sponsor” who just falls in love with their work. Wrong—that would be an artist rep. Investors are looking for ROI.
- Describe how you are going to pay back the investment. Answer that question first and your chances of getting funding improve exponentially.
- Sound like a boss when you negotiate. Arrive armed with airtight arguments and a complete understanding of the financial aspects of your company.
Here is what I did that got me a Small Business Administration (SBA) guaranteed loan:
- From 8.30 p.m. (after my daughter was asleep) until midnight, I wrote my business plan. Plus every Saturday and every Sunday. FOR SIX MONTHS.
- I learned how to read spreadsheets from a friend who worked at a brokerage. I also learned the formulas for ROI and projecting. Believe me, I wanted to slit my wrists because it was so excruciatingly boring for a creative soul. (I am a photographer by trade.)
- I was so desperate that I wrote a letter to George W. Bush, President of the United States at the time.
- A letter from the White House arrived and I was put in touch with the SBA’s Deputy Chief Director.
- I arrived at my meeting fully prepared with my business plan.
- The SBA helped me get rid of the fluff I had spent four months writing. We focused entirely on the numbers.
- I knew my numbers.
- Vineyard Bank gave me $135,000 to restructure my credit card debt and overdrawn lines of credit.
- I broke even three months later.
- Fifteen months later, I was the world leader in my industry (celebrity-at-home stories) and my business was acquired by a company privately held by Bill Gates
This is one of the formulas of Growth Architecture. Please share your insights, make a comment, or ask a question. I am here to support you and your business so that you can grow, build, and scale it.
At her lowest point, Beate Chelette was $135,000 in debt, a single mother, and forced to leave her home. Only 18 months later, she sold her image licensing business to Bill Gates in a multimillion dollar deal. Chelette is a nationally known ‘gender decoder’ who has appeared in over 60 radio shows, respected speaker, career coach, consummate creative entrepreneur, and author of Happy Woman Happy World. Beate is also the founder of The Women’s Code, a unique guide to women leadership and personal and career success that offers a new code of conduct for today’s business, private, and digital worlds. Determined to build a community of women supporting each other, she took her life-changing formula documented it all in a book Brian Tracy calls “an amazing handbook for every woman who wants health, happiness, love and success!”
Through her corporate initiative “Why Acting Like a Girl Is Good For Business” she helps companies with gender diversification training, and to develop and retain women.
If you’d like to book Beate as a speaker on New Leadership Balance or Creative Entrepreneurship for your next event please connect with me.