Corrections or additions?
This article by Catherine P. Moscarello was prepared for the
September 13, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper.
All rights reserved.
Business Plans That Work
You have a great idea for a business. You’re a terrific
person. You have lots of experience. Your resume isn’t the least bit
padded. Now how do you go about getting an investor to back you so
that this great idea can grow? You need a great business plan, that’s
Marvin Preston, owner and president of NewMarkets Inc. since
1983, has made a career out of coaching clients to develop business
plans that work. He will share that knowledge at the first session
of the New Jersey Entrepreneurs Forum on "Writing Business Plans
That Get Funded" on Thursday, September 14, at 6:30 p.m. at
Restaurant in Somerset. Cost: $45. Call Jeffrey Milanette,
(or E-mail: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org).
The NJEF is a non-profit corporation that serves technology
with educational monthly meetings for entrepreneurs, free mentoring
services, referrals to sources of business assistance, and business
plan case presentations. Its meetings are meant to be intensive
sessions with networking as a side benefit.
Preston’s experience as a programmer and systems analyst took him
on a roundabout route to his present role as a consultant for start-up
clients, undercapitalized businesses, expanding companies and
that are in the process of reorganizing. A native of Michigan, Preston
majored in mathematics at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor;
he graduated in 1966 and joined IBM. At Yorktown Heights, New York,
his work with real-time and interactive software was in a field that
was relatively new in the late ’60s, when data processing was the
trend in computer programming. "There were only two computer
offered at Michigan when I graduated, and one of them just focused
on fundamentals," he says.
Preston stayed on the technical side of computers when he returned
to Michigan to work at Ford Motor Company and Information Control
Systems, but he began the shift into marketing at Omnitext Inc. There
he became a self-appointed salesman who marketed and sold the company
products that he had created. That experience prompted him to return
to school and obtain his MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s
Wharton School in 1981.
At Exxon Office Systems Company in Stamford, Connecticut, Preston
had his first experience with an overfunded startup. "This was
a company growing out of control with little product planning and
customer support. The company folded, and since I had a background
in planning and market research, lots of talented people without jobs
started coming to me for help with their business plans." This
was the start of NewMarkets, Inc., based on Prospect Avenue in
(609-683-0869 or E-mail: email@example.com).
"I help people turn ideas into businesses," says Preston.
"I’m not an employee of their business. My job is to advise and
then get out of the way."
Preston’s advice to budding entrepreneurs is elementary. "There
never seems to be enough time to do it right, but there is always
time to do it over." Do your homework, find all the books and
software you can, and start to fill in the blanks of your plan. There
are countless ways to write a plan and good information about those
ways is out there if you look for it. What Preston adds to the mix
is the ability to seize a topic and understand other ways of looking
at it to make the plan work.
"You only have to answer three basic questions for the potential
financier when you write a successful business plan," says
a way that is understandable, succinct, definitive and accurate. An
investor who is looking to fund a biotechnology interest needs to
know up front that your plan is all about electrical component testing
systems. Then, because he’s not interested, you can go on to the next
says that this question trips up most business plan writers. A great
person with a great resume doesn’t necessarily convince the investor
that a business plan will work. It’s critical to underline the
of the experience on that resume and show how it can advance the goals
of the business.
that there is a balanced ratio between the investment and the expected
gain. For example, would an investor be willing to gain $1 million
dollars following five years worth of hard work? For some, the answer
would be no.
with the most details. "Three hundred pages of spread sheets is
too much. Forty pages or less is a good ideal to shoot for. After
all, the guys with the money get inundated with plans just like yours.
They need to answer those three questions first. If they are
they’ll come back and ask a million questions."
— Catherine P. Moscarello
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