One of the lasting takeaways Jodi and I have carried from our time in Europe is that you can’t hurry entrepreneurial success. So many of our business endeavors were born out of necessity but then organized and held idling in the RAM of our own fat heads, which only led to a permanent lack of structure and an oversimplified “plan” for realistic growth. Coupling a concrete financial stake with a burning desire to construct a tangible “immortality project,” as terror management psychologists would call it, we’ve spent the last half year slaving over a comprehensive business plan for our future farm.
“[A business plan] needs to primarily make sense to its author.”
Neither Jodi nor I are accomplished capitalists nor qualified advisers for business planning, but all of my research has led me to believe that an effective business plan is completely subjective and needs to primarily make sense to its author. Chris Bash, co-founder of Exercise & Excess (and a friend), was kind enough to let me dissect the business plan for his thriving Austin company, Yomosas, an enterprise that blends the popularity of Yoga with the popularity of the alcohol in mimosas. I was floored by its simple yet sophisticated brevity and because I am an expert in overthinking and can entirely convolute even a goddamned pizza order, we attempted monkeying his minimalism in our own plan.
And therein lies the subjectivity. Chris planned his entire wedding, assigning designated responsibilities to all participants, printed and sleeved in plastic. I still have the glass cyanide capsule he required we place under our tongues should any of us have fudged his procedures. The man is organized, and a ten-page plan for Yomosas was clearly all he and his partner needed to complement the Teutonic-like methodology marching about the Champs-Élysées of their minds. Whatever else a lending institution might need satisfied from a written out company structure would presumably be fulfilled by Chris’ winning personality. Since Jodi and I lack that sort of professional charisma, we hope to let a wordy 50-paged, compulsively detailed plan articulate where our fatted tongues leave off.
Initially, we had taken the aforementioned fathead approach to our farm and from the get-go misinterpreted the very purpose of a business plan as something designed for bank loans or governmental and organizational grants. The thought of mapping out assets, income, and forecasting both seemed needlessly institutional and activated the reflexive (and irrational) rebel gland responsible for the suspension and recoil of every man’s swinging testicles. In other words, I didn’t want to “yessir or no sir” anyone. I’d have just as soon adorned myself in plumed Carnival regalia, glittered up my bosom, and click-clacked into a loan office for a private performance. It was only after we started asking ourselves how we were planning to operate a profitable farm that a business plan fell into its natural, self-serving function. Duh.
I’ll avoid the bore of mapping out the rights and wrongs of business planning, for it truly is subjective. Instead I’ll only comment on what worked for us.
Timeframe. The granddaddy of ‘em all. We followed a standard five-year model. It forced us to turn our hypothetical fancies to realistic (and intentionally conservative) projected income and expenses. Doing so is the sole reason we can shush well-intended but ignorant nay-sayers from raining on our dope-ass parade. “Are you sure you can-” Yes. “Have you thought abou-” Yes. “You do realize that-” Yes, now shhhhhh, butthead.
A five-year model also forced creativity. Do we really want to remain financially stagnant every year? No, so let’s cook up something different every year until we reach a plateau that we’re comfortable with.
Lastly, blocking our goals into yearly benchmarks made the transition into a new industry more manageable and considerably less overwhelming.
Acreage. In our case, deciding how we were going to use our land really informed us as to how much we would need, how much is ideal, and how much our dirty little fantasies were privately moaning over. While land usage might not apply to every business plan, commercial space might. . .
Marketing. Another creative outlet and delight to ponder over. This research identified our demography and afforded us the opportunity to shape how we may best reach them. This one felt almost intuitive for me, but there were a few surprises that we would have taken longer to discover had we not been banging away at our keyboards.
Iconography. Love it. While companies can package logos and icons in a plethora of sizes and formats, it was a pleasure to save some cash and create our own. Not really any research to speak of here (apologies to the graphic designers whose heads have just exploded), but the category got us thinking about our farm identity and how to represent it. Should we get certified organic as we have planned in year three, we’ve got a new bag of logos lying in wait.
In summary, the only reason Jodi and I feel relatively confident about starting something from scratch is because we applied months and months and months of our time researching; and furthermore, the only reason we dropped our lazy approach to startups is because a business plan required our dedicated study. Regardless of whether our actual farm is fulfilling or successful, the process alone has brought us guidance and a powerful sureness that we’ll now be able to apply all future undertakings.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Contact us if you’ve got some life-altering information to share or if you’re interested in anything more business plan specific.