Bootstrapping: The Business Plan

You’ve probably heard that the first rule about starting a business is you have to write a detailed business plan.  Well, we disagree.

The point of a business plan is to show others that your idea has monetary value. If you aren’t interested in attracting investors, save yourself the time and instead prove out to yourself that your million dollar idea is really worth a million dollars.

So, how do you do that? By validating the assumptions and opinions that currently make up your idea.

1. Verify the Problem

Your product needs to solve a problem or fulfill a need in order to be valuable. Otherwise, why would someone buy it? This problem needs to be important and pervasive. If it isn’t important, people might not want to spend money to solve it. If the problem isn’t pervasive, you are going to have a tiny target market.

2. Verify the Solution

Starting out, your solution is based on your experiences, but you are not the customer. Go talk to dozens of people in what you think is your target market. Find out if:

  • The solution solves the problem
  • This is actually your target market
  • What ways you can improve the solution

3. Verify the Business Model

Do some calculations to estimate your expenses and income. Will the costs associated with running your business be high? Will the price and income be low? Your business does not need to immediately turn a profit, but it will eventually need to be profitable to stay open.

Now what?

Once you have completed those three steps, you are ready for the rest of your business plan:

  • Sales Plan
  • Marketing Plan
  • Product Plan
  • Finance Plan

Keep it high level at first and work in the details as you learn and experience more.  Our business plan is currently 1 page long and that works just fine for us.

Christmas Tree Facts

christmas infographic

While researching the facts included in this Christmas tree infographic, I came across that interesting tidbit about Teddy Roosevelt. Here is a little more about that story:

Burnishing his environmental credentials, Roosevelt refused to display a Christmas tree in the White House, fearing that to do so would be sending the wrong message to the public and be fodder for his political opponents. In 1901, the Roosevelt’s’ first treeless Christmas in Washington passed uneventfully.

In 1902, however, Roosevelt’s two youngest sons, Archie and Quentin, cut down a small tree on the White House grounds and smuggled it into the closet of the room where the family opened gifts. The boys hung gifts for their parents from the branches and enlisted the help of the staff electrician in decorating the tree with tiny lights wired to a switch outside the closet.

On Christmas morning, while the family opened gifts, Archie surprised his family by opening the closet door and throwing the switch. Amused by his boys’ ingenuity, Teddy nevertheless took them to his friend and environmental adviser (and later the first Chief of the United States Forest Service), Gifford Pinchot, to explain to them the negative effects of killing trees for decorative use.

You can find more information here.

Ode to the Ampersand

odetotheampersand

An ampersand is a logogram “&” representing the conjunction word “and”. This symbol is a ligature of the letters et, Latin for “and”.

The word ampersand is a corruption of the phrase “and (&) per se and”, meaning “and (the symbol &) intrinsically (is the word) and”.

Traditionally, in English-speaking schools when reciting the alphabet, any letter that could also be used as a word in itself (“A”, “I”, and, at one point, “O”) was preceded by the Latin expression per se (“by itself”). Also, it was common practice to add at the end of the alphabet the “&” sign as if it were the 27th letter, pronounced and. As a result, the recitation of the alphabet would end in “X, Y, Z, and per se and”. This last phrase was routinely slurred to “ampersand” and the term had entered common English usage by 1837.

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