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October 23, 1986 - Image 45

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The Michigan Daily, 1986-10-23
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0 The American Exprea eal Life Planner

Every figure and idea that is not your
own should be sourced in detail. The
idea is that a person with absolutely no
familiarity about the market you're trying
to reach should be able to understand
what you're talking about, what the num-
bers mean, and where the numbers
come from"
Stern advises new business planners
to work from the ground up in building
expense and revenue estimates. "Don't
come at the thing backwards,' he says.
"You can't determine that the business
should earn x number of dollars and
then come up with cost estimates to fill
in the blanks.
"You have to look at actual numbers,
which you can get from looking at similar
businesses and companies, and the
numbers have to make sense.They have
to make common sense. There is no
magic to preparing a business plan, no
secret formula. Most times you can tell if
a plan will work by simply eye-balling
the figures. Something has to trigger in
your head when your numbers tell you to
expect a tripling of revenues in less than
a year, for example, something that will
tell you what might make sense on the
balance sheet doesn't really make sense
in the business world. You need com-
mon sense. Not too many businesses
have tripled their revenues in less than
a year. You have to be logical about it.
That's the most important element"
The core of a business plan should
include detailed analysis and breakdown
of revenues, and a study of each sepa-
rate source of potential revenue. Each
expense element should be explored in
detail.Variable costs should be grouped
apart from fixed costs; in other words,
you'll want to isolate your fixed costs
which will be the same whether you
produce one widget or one million from
the added costs incurred as you in-
crease production.
Also, you'll want to bolster the plan
with an intelligent, well-written narrative.
A business plan is not a mere assem-
blage of numbers, of charts and graphs
pulled together to make a strong case
for investment on the part of your poten-
tial backers. Rather it is the chance for
you to walk others slowly and carefully
through every conceivable and relatable
aspect of your new business and prod-
uct, so that the reader has as much in-
formation at his or her disposal as you
can possibly provide. Your narrative
should address the marketplace you
attempt to serve as it currently exists,
and should also discuss the perceived
need in the marketplace that your busi-
ness or product proposes to fill.
"Don't be unrealistic,' Stern says. "It
always takes longer than you think to
turn a profit, and expenses always turn
out higher than expected. You have to

remember that you're asking your
investors, whether independent or a
major company, to be willing to lose
money at the beginning. You have to be
able to move back and forth from the
details to the big picture, and your busi-
ness plan should reflect that. The num-
bers are your details, but the big picture

is all common sense, all logic"
The plan can be as short as five or ten
pages, or as long as several hundred,
depending on the venture. Be sure that it
is neatly and professionally presented,
with supplementary materials provided
when necessary

: ;

feet wet on your first job, and it doesn't
matter whether your ideas will revolutionize
your entire industry, or just make things run
a little more smoothly in your small corner
of the business world. The point is you've
got to think ahead in :order to get ahead.
The ability to take a step or two back from a
given mode and then approach a problem
from a different perspective is the one key
ingredient to an intrapreneur's success.
Big ideas can come in small packages.
Intrapreneuring doesn't have to refer to the
invention of a new product or service,
merchandised and developed by a spon-
soring company. It can also refer to a new
idea, a company's willingness to accept
new ideas, and its ability to translate those
ideas into bottom-line performance.
What advice do the experts give for young
professionals blessed with these bright
ideas? "They have to begin building a coa-
lition among other people who are relatively
low in the organization:' says Gifford Pichot
Ill, the man widely credited for the sudden
interest in intrapreneurship, "a few of their
trusted friends. That way when they go for-
ward it's not just one crazy person with an
idea. It's a matter of selling the idea to others
who may have been around a little longer
and who can then find the support you
need at a high enough level"

"Big organizations are great teaching
devices;' notes Pinchot. "There is a lot to
be learned in the way big companies do
things. But you should work in the spirit of
trying to do new things, and you should be
aggressive about doing them. You learn
much faster if you try and do things, new
things, and then see what happens:"
But bigger is not always better. In your
career, as in other things, your greatest
strides will often come in little steps.
"Intrapreneuring works informally in small
companies:" Pinchot says. "You don't need
a system to do it in smaller companies.
What you need are the right attitudes, and
those attitudes are often present in small
companies. As the companies become big-
ger you have to work harder at it"
Informally, then, you should cast about in
your first job for intrapreneurial ideas you
can handle.Think in steps, little steps even,
and before long you'll have put one foot in
front of the other to where you've walked
right smack into a bright future. Whether
you're in a big-size company, or in a five-
person operation, even the smallest and
subtlest of changes can eventually lead to
big things.
"I think that a young person has to
understand that they're not going to be
given a tremendous amount of freedom
when they start out, and that this is going to
be a bit shocking:' observes Pinchot. "But if
they take whatever little freedom they are
given, and do something good with it, do a
little more than they were asked for, then
what will happen is they'll gain a reputation
for being someone who can be trusted.
They'll find that freedom comes to them
relatively rapidly"
"They'll come with dreams that are big-
ger than they'll get permission to pursue,
and the thing to do is not to give up
dreaming, but to pursue some slightly
smaller dreams. Or, to demonstrate to
themselves and to others that they can in
fact get things done, even if it's a small

thing. Then they'll be able to attract the
sponsorship they'll need to achieve their
biooer dreams:"

0 The American Exprejoeal Life Planner

CASE IN POINT of how an intrapreneur; at a large company
There are examples of intrapreneurship at with vision, can see his or her ideas through
work in your every working day; and one of to successful completion.
the best comes in the form of those sticky For 3M's Art Fry the notion for Post-it'"
little yellow strips and squares of paper that notes, one of the five biggest selling office
dot your textbooks, your refrigerator; your products in the country; was simple enough.
telephone, your term papers. They're called Singing in the choir of his Presbyterian
Post-it'"notes-removable, self-sticking note church, he would mark the pages of his
pads in an attention-getting canary yellow hymn book with little slips of paper to help
and other colors. The story behind their cue himself when to stand up and sing; by
development is perhaps the best example the end of the sermons, though, he'd find
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"Your first major obstacle is in top
management, or in middle management:'
says USC's Buzkirk. "They often have no
interest in new ventures. The rewards will
come long after they've retired. So it's going
to take younger managers, someone willing
to take some risks"
An intrapreneurial mindset and the will-
ingness and ability to take risks are often
the best preparation for a career in any
business. You will do well to approach even
your first job with the unshakable belief that
you can add significant value to your com-
pany, whether in courageous leaps or in
imaginative steps. Once you learn the lay of
the land, so to speak, you shouldn't be
afraid to suggest, design and implement
subtle changes in your particular area of
the company's business.

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