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This article by Catherine P. Moscarello was prepared for the

September 13, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper.

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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

all.

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

McAteer’s

Restaurant in Somerset. Cost: $45. Call Jeffrey Milanette,

908-789-3424

(or E-mail: e-mail njef@home.com).

The NJEF is a non-profit corporation that serves technology

entrepreneurs

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

training

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

businesses

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

courses

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

Princeton

(609-683-0869 or E-mail: mprestoniv@aol.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

Preston.

What’s the game? It’s vital to describe the business in

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

investor.

If I play, why should I believe I’m going to win?

Preston

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

relevancy

of the experience on that resume and show how it can advance the goals

of the business.

Is it worth it if I win? Make sure the plan demonstrates

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.

Preston adds that a good business plan is not always the one

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

interested,

they’ll come back and ask a million questions."

— Catherine P. Moscarello


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