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It’s been a quiet day today as I sit in Amy’s office in downtown Boulder and get geared up for the year ahead. My inbox is empty, my todo list is mostly empty, and my brain is clear. There’s something really elegant about the first business day of the year which – apparently – wasn’t today but is tomorrow.
As I enjoy the sun going down over Boulder, I’ve been reflecting on my first company (Feld Technologies). I looked at the Business Plan series to see where I had left off and – voila – the next section to talk about is The Company. Since I’m in Boulder, land of hippies and crystals (and lots of Internet entrepreneurs, plenty of mountain bikers, and some amazing Olympic athletes) I thought this sychronicity warranted that I crank out another post on the Business Plan.
Once the setup to the business (e.g. what industry are we going to address) is out of the way, a business plan should cut to the chase and describe what the company is going to be doing in the context of the industry it is addressing. This was short and sweet for Feld Technologies:
As a company, Feld Technologies will focus on encompassing the entire semi-custom software concept; it will use this concept to solve problems for small businesses. Because of its generic nature, the capabilities of semi-custom software covers most of the needs for business software used in small companies.
It could have been a little simpler – e.g. “we write custom software for small business and we try to be smart about it, using the “semi-custom software” idea we described earlier.” One paragraph describing what the company is going to do doesn’t seem particularly ambitious, so we fleshed it out a little.
The Company will gain expertise in the use of various database packages. It will build up a library of reusable software, which will improve quality and efficiency in development. It will build a customer base of lead-users who will help steer the Company toward emerging trends and needs. In these ways, Feld Technologies will add a value to its products which no vendor of individual competitive products can match.
The founders will become authorities in the field of database application programming. We will use this status to develop and market numerous adjunct database products including software and literature. We will leverage our authority to become noted consultants who create computing solutions for small businesses. Finally, we will strive to make Feld Technologies a cornerstone upon which a new segment of the software industry is built – namely semi-custom software.
We were very specific and direct. When I look back on this, the only thing we never got around to trying to do was “develop and market numerous adjunct database products including software and literature.” We never really developed a product focus – something that is very hard for a self-funded consulting firm to do, especially one run by a 25 year old and a 21 year old.
So many of the business plans that I see (and often don’t read) have endless vague generalities and extremely optimistic assertions about what the company will accomplish. Keep it short, simple, and direct. Don’t be afraid to have a big vision, but make sure it’s a clear one.