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Defining business through the planning process
Business plans are for big corporations and companies seeking capital funding, or so I thought. Little did I know . . .
I wanted to launch a home-based business. Many personal narratives are lost with the passing of loved ones. In order to address the value of capturing personal reflections, the difficulty for people finding the time to do so, and the willingness to help people preserve life stories, I founded Stories in Time.
Stories in Time is a personal history business that documents memories, thoughts, and feelings for current and future generations. The customer can select to have the histories done in different formats, including a CD for an audio experience or the interviews are transcribed into text and transferred to video or print. With the latter two products, photos and documents can be scanned and added.
Music and the narrator’s voice reciting select passages can be incorporated, creating a multi-media product. I can create a short story that focuses on a special time of one’s life, or I can compile an entire life story, incorporating social history, the details about what was going on in the world and everyday life during that time, in order to put the personal story into context. This is called a life legacy.
Other options include corporate histories and family histories, which may include stories from several generations. Another product that seems to elicit questions is the ethical will. Also known as a legacy letter, the ethical will is a way of passing beliefs, values, blessings, morals and advice to the next generation. The ethical will can be any length and expresses whatever the client wishes to pass on to others. Regardless of the medium or end-product, the objective of personal history is the same— to capture the story however the teller wants to tell it.
Preparing to develop a business, I took an entrepreneurship workshop at the local community college. The last assignment was preparing a business plan, a culmination of everything learned in the workshop. With some encouragement, I began constructing what turned out to be the best thing I could have done: writing a business plan.
Don’t get me wrong, I stressed over it. I was near tears more than once, but I kept plodding along, pushing myself to finish what I had started. During the process, I learned a business plan is the blueprint for all businesses.
Regardless of company size, the components of the business plan are basically the same: description and vision, products and services, market definition, marketing and sales strategy, organization and management, and financial management.
For the first time, my business began to feel tangible and was no longer just an idea. Writing my business plan forced me to ask the tough questions, to do the research, to examine the financial implications. It provided clarity of my goals, my customer, and the service I intended to provide. I knew what I wanted to do, but putting it on paper provided me with perspective.
The day arrived to present my plan to my workshop peers and a panel comprised of successful business experts. Again, I stressed and nearly wept. But next to writing the plan, presenting it was the best thing. The questions asked and comments made after the presentation made me consider my assumptions and reconsider some of my statements. So, I reconstructed my business plan.
Suddenly, my business plan became more than a class assignment. It took on a life of its own. My business plan is my business. It became, and continues to be, a constant source of reference. With a year of business ownership under my belt, I am looking forward to year-end. I have real data to use and to compare to my initial estimates.
I can now say with confidence, had I not written a business plan my business would have failed. It is a vital tool for me and should be for any business owner. If you haven’t reviewed your plan in a while, brush off the dust and do some reading. It may lead to variations in philosophy or marketing or operations. If nothing else, the review will remind you of your vision and the very reason you started your own business venture.
Amy Peirce is the founder and owner of Stories in Time, a personal history business reflective of her passion and dedication to preserving life stories.
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Defining business through the planning process Business plans are for big corporations and companies seeking capital funding, or so I ..