If the thought of writing a business plan makes you want to cry, swear a little, and then frantically search the internet for a free template that actually makes sense before giving up and cracking that bottle of tequila you’ve been saving…
Then you’ve come to the right blog post, because I am going to save you from all of that! I recently had the pleasure of interviewing business plan expert Jessica Oman, and I am excited to share what I learned with you. To be honest, I’ve never met anyone who knows how to get a business owner out of a planning rut better than she does. As owner of Renegade Planner and creator of the Business Plan Bootcamp , Jessica knows better than anyone that business plan templates are frustrating at best – and detrimental to your business at worst.
Jessica’s business planning framework is so much more than a template. She’s developed a method that helps more people finish their business plans and write good ones, too – plans that actually help them get the financing they need to grow scalable, profitable companies. I personally used to read business plans all day long in my previous career, and I know from that experience how valuable a well written plan really is. Whether you are trying to get financing or attract a top quality team, the ability to communicate your message effectively is key to your success.
I reached out to Jessica to chat about her unique approach to business planning and find out more about the Business Plan Bootcamp. I was thrilled to discover that you won’t find any cumbersome templates or dry business plan seminars here. Want to learn more about why Jessica’s methods really work? Read my interview below!
I’m going to start with a provocative question. Aren’t business plans dead? Are they even used anymore?
No, they are not at all dead! Business plans are mandatory for SBA loans and most bank loans. Investors often ask to see them as a backup to a pitch deck or investment presentation. And, they’re also key for some of the more innovative financing options out there like equity crowdfunding.
What IS dead is the requirement for over-analytical, boring research documents full of meaningless hockey stick growth charts and endless pages of market statistics. People with money want to see something clear, concise and simple so they know right away if it’s a good opportunity. A business plan is a perfect conduit for that.
Why do you always say that “business plan templates don’t work”?
Templates are usually hard to modify for different types of businesses – they’re rigid, they contain too many assumptions that need changing and they’re often too long. Every template needs to be customized for that specific business – but people get frustrated because they don’t know how to do it. Template instructions can also be confusing, repetitive, or they contain confusing business lingo that doesn’t make sense to regular people. So when you combine bad instructions with an inflexible template, it’s no wonder so many people never finish their business plans.
If templates don’t work, what’s an entrepreneur supposed to do?
Instead of forcing people to complete a glorified form-filling exercise, I teach a planning framework that shows entrepreneurs how to approach business plan writing from the perspective of their ideal customer. If you take the time to truly understand your (future) best customers, then you can plan a business that will give them the best experience. So the framework allows you to design your own template as you work, with your ideal customers in mind. If you write your business plan from that perspective, it becomes really easy to do (and kind of fun too). I also simplify the process for forecasting revenue and expenses, which makes it easier to create financial projections.
How did you get started writing business plans?
I started out offering general writing services but because of my background in business, people kept asking me to write business plans, and it turned out I was really good at them! My clients said their bankers were really impressed with the plans I wrote because I could take a complicated idea and present it in a clear and straightforward way. My clients got their loans and investment money, and I just kept getting referrals. I realized that my approach was unique and effective, and I developed the Business Plan Bootcamp so that I could reach more entrepreneurs who really need an effective business plan.
Do you work with any specific kinds of companies?
I work with a lot of brick-and-mortar businesses like restaurants, cafes and retail stores. Health companies like naturopathic clinics and massage clinics are also a great fit, and I have a number of clients with technology start-ups. Any business owner (new or experienced) who needs a loan or investment between about $50,000 and $500,000 but struggles to articulate the awesomeness of their business in writing is a great fit.
How does your Business Plan Bootcamp program work?
Business Plan Bootcamp is an online course that teaches entrepreneurs a simple approach to writing a business plan that helps them get financing…even if it’s their first business and even if they “don’t get the finance stuff”. There are about 10 lessons (plus some bonuses) and it’s all self-paced. But the most exciting thing is that entrepreneurs get to submit their draft business plans to me for a customized business plan audit. I’ll literally read the entire thing and mark it up with comments so they can make sure it’s absolutely kick-ass before they submit it anywhere for lending or investment.
Thanks, Jessica! Is there a deadline to sign up for your awesome bootcamp?