The Simple Business Plan

A way to jump-start a small business.

Posted Aug 04, 2020

Andy Morataya, U.S. Air Force Photo, Public Domain
Source: Andy Morataya, U.S. Air Force Photo, Public Domain

Amid the COVID economic shutdown, many laid-off people are thinking of starting a small business. A business plan is important but you may do well to avoid the fat business plan in favor of a short and simple one.

Let me offer an example. A client, long an HR executive at a Fortune-1000 company, was suddenly dumped a month ago. He had always prided himself on spending discretionary time on his job rather than in schmoozing, so his network was small. He tried the dozen people who could potentially open doors for him, but while they all said they thought he was great, they said that, these days, he might not be in high demand. And indeed, now, a month later, he only has gotten one courtesy interview. Desperate to avoid losing his and his wife’s home and having to pull their kids from college, he wants to try to be a consultant, and he hired me to help him.

We first identified a niche that he felt that he knew a fair amount about and that might be in demand these days, and he decided on diversity and inclusion consulting. We then crafted a business plan that was simpler than he feared would be required but that he feels good about it.

So I thought I’d share its elements with you without revealing anything that he might view as proprietary. You might find the structure and perhaps the content useful if you might be starting or revising a small business.

Services he’d offer

1. Audit a company’s processes and procedures for preventing and responding to issues of diversity and inclusion.

2. Augment that with documents, programs, and monitoring.

3. Evaluate those augmentations, to identify areas for further improvement and to provide summative evaluative data to be used in determining employee compensation, and for reporting to shareholders, government watchdogs, and the media.

Personnel: Just him plus an employment attorney who specializes in diversity and inclusion programs, handbooks, and in responding to employee claims.

Pricing: Two models: $3,000 a day or flat-fee based on that per diem.

His costs: He will set up an office in his home. He already has a computer and much of the furniture, so he estimates the additional costs, including office supplies and extra utility costs for being home during the day, at $2,000 a year.

Projected income: To avoid losing his home and having his kids go from State U to community college, he figures he needs to earn $180,000 the first year, or 61 paid days at said $3,000 per day minus the estimated $2,000 in costs. While daunted at the need to get that many paid days, he said the urgency of that would motivate him to work hard at marketing.

Marketing; In addition to requesting leads from his extended network, he plans to conduct a series of webinars marketed through one or more professional associations and other groups of HR professionals, especially those people responsible for diversity/inclusion initiatives. If needed, he’ll create a newsletter that highlights the latest laws, policies, innovations, and legal actions related to diversity and inclusion. If necessary, he would also send cold emails followed up by phone calls to senior officers in charge of diversity/inclusion at businesses of 200 to 2,000 employees. While he would start with San Francisco Bay Area entities. If that proved insufficient, he’d expand to Southern California and, if necessary, beyond.

The takeaway

No one ever said that self-employment is easy, let alone for someone who had been protected by the corporate umbrella for decades. And it’s made even more difficult today because of the COVID economy and because today's hiring is highly selective. But this client at least came away from today’s session calmer, realizing he well might not need one of those hundred-page business plans that he had learned about in his undergraduate business course.

Perhaps if you’re starting or reorienting your solo or few-person business, the aforementioned simple business plan may be all you need.

i read this aloud on YouTube.