“They were shocked at the level of my business plan. I even had one venture capitalist ask me if I had the business plan professionally written and by whom!”Todd Pearson, Global MRO Products
In order to be successful in business, entrepreneurs need to be flexible. Flexibility may mean rethinking where you're getting your funding or being willing to give up all your free time for the sake of your business. Or it may mean planning for the future knowing that your plan is going to need to be adjusted over time.
Todd Pearson learned this early on his path to business ownership. After 11 years at the same company, Pearson decided to open his own distribution/import company. In 2002, he started Global MRO Products, which assists companies with the international procurement of MRO (maintenance repair operations) products. "Our clients are either manufacturers or distributors/resellers who then sell to manufacturing. What they have in common is that they need internationally manufactured parts for their factories' equipment," says Pearson.
When he started Global MRO, Pearson thought he'd be seeking funding from investors. "For this, I needed a business plan," he remembers. When he started working in Business Plan Pro 2002, he learned a great deal about his business. "It really puts things into the right perspective. Using the software made me answer questions that I had not really thought about in much depth. It made me take a harder look at some of my ideas."
After shopping his business plan around, Pearson determined that going the venture capital route wasn't the right fit for him. "I found out that unless I was willing to give away a large portion of my company to a venture capitalist or deal with bank rules and issues, my best bet was to use the equity built in both my partner's and my homes," he says. But he was impressed with the feedback he got on the plan he had been presenting. "They were shocked at the level of my business plan. I even had one venture capitalist ask me if I had the business plan professionally written and by whom!"
The work Pearson had put into the plan wasn't wasted just because he hadn't used it to secure funding, however. "Eventually, the plan was used more as a tool to gauge our success and to map out the next step" of his company, he says. Over the next few years, he found himself going back to Business Plan Pro, updating the numbers in his plan to reflect what was actually happening. "The results gave me a very good indicator of where we were headed compared to what we had projected," and allowed him to make adjustments as needed.
The difference between working for somebody else and owning his own business is like night and day for Pearson. "It is fun to come into work each day -- which, by the way, stopped seeming like work since it is my company -- and look for new ways to increase sales, customer satisfaction, or make my employees just a little bit happier!"
Pearson's company has been doing well, and he says doing what he loves is at least part of the reason why. "You will be married to [your business] and will be giving it all the spare time you have. It is taxing and until you reach a point beyond profitability, it sucks every extra minute out of your life. If you don't truly love what you're doing, it won't seem worth it." Pearson is also a strong advocate for having a business plan, which, he says, "will help you see where you are succeeding and where you need to perform better."
The one downside to his company's success, according to Pearson, is that it "cost me the time to continue the important practice" of revisiting and revising his business plan. "However, I now need to secure new financing to help support two new business ventures. Once again, I find myself needing one of the most crucial documents a business needs. Hello, Business Plan Pro 2009!"