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the business plan

In March 2003, I went to a charity fundraising event where, for once, I was giving away money. I met a professional investor who gave me lots of advice, and time, to help with the development of the business plan. He was helpful, and despite the fact he was considerably richer than me, I paid for lunch every time we met. Lesson number 1 - don't always buy lunch, especially if you can't afford it. I said I would have the business plan ready by the end of April and he suggested that it might take a bit longer. The first presentable version was ready at the end of August - he was right.

Lots of people commented on the first business plan. Especially big thanks to:

  • John Hamwee (author of Energy Medicine: A Perfectly Balanced Guide to Health and Well-being, an acupuncturist and zero balancer for 10 years with a background in systems thinking and lecturing)
  • Professor Jake Chapman (author of System Failure: Why Government Must Learn to Think Differently and a key player in developing the government's system used for rating the energy efficiency of housing)
  • Victoria Ward (former Chief Knowledge Officer for NatWest who founded SparkNow an experiment in collaborative working, intent on honoring the human spirit in the workplace).

The professional investor pointed me towards Business Plan Services and Jane Khedair, who I first met on May 29th 2003. Jane and colleagues reviewed the plan as it was and concluded that it wasn't so bad. Following their advice on what was lacking I entrusted the plan to them for an overhaul. It has often been said that no one else can write a business plan for your business, and they could not possibly know all the insider info that you want included. They could however access great market research, tighten up the financial presentation and add some much needed structure to the document.

This version of the plan was finished by the end of August, just in time to be entered for the business plan awards. We were all delighted to find out that the plan was a finalist in this national competition. In hindsight I think the judges could see through some craziness to the core of the idea, and that must be what they backed, even though we did not win.

The event was supported by Everywoman that offers support services for women entrepreneurs. It was very confidence-boosting to be recognised in that way, for what was only an idea that became a reality.

As you can see in the finance/structure section, this business plan was designed to attract investors/shareholders, but we later decided to be a non-profit and consequently are not looking for investors but instead loans/grants to support the organisation until we are self-sufficient (3 years is the aim). We have consequently written and re-written the plan and imagine that we will come back to it often.

Back to the Introduction of the 2003 Annual Review