For anyone who dreads the thought of writing anything longer or more complex than a text or a tweet, words like "describe", "discuss", or "detail" are synonyms for a splitting headache and the main ingredients for an upset stomach.
If you're among the faint of heart when it comes to putting complete sentences and paragraphs down on paper, it's a good idea to stock up on pain pills and Pepto before you sit down to write the guts of your business plan. This is going to be like the world's longest essay exam. Deep details count big. Generalities, not so much.
There’s a literary legend in which Ernest Hemingway places a brash wager on the power of brevity.
Insisting that just a few well-chosen words are enough to tell a compelling story, Hemingway bets several other writers $10 each that he can compose a complete story – one with a beginning, middle and end – in just six words.
Once his buddies ante up, he pens this on a napkin: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Short. Engaging. Powerful.
Whether it's true or not is a matter for literary scholars to debate. But when it comes to writing the executive summary of your business plan, it’s a good idea to channel Hemingway just a little.
Here’s a Thanksgiving recipe that should become a tradition all over Minnesota:
Take one small business – preferably one that’s homegrown, not mass-produced – and stuff it with customers and a generous portion of greenbacks. Serves: the entire community.
Success in business is no accident.
Ok, so everyone knows someone who launched a business on a whim; has flown it by the seat of his pants; and – far from going down in flames – has been wildly successful. Yes, it happens. But it’s not the norm.
What do Westinghouse, Walgreens, Wendy’s, Forbes and FedEx have in common? Besides the letters W and F, that is.
Give up? Or maybe the better word here is “surrender.” (Pssst. That’s a clue.)
Let’s say you’re a manufacturer in Owatonna and one day you get an inquiry from a potential customer in Los Angeles or Chicago or Atlanta. Do you respond? Of course you do. When business comes knocking, you answer the door. That’s a no-brainer.
But what if the inquiry comes from Toronto … or Hamburg … or Sao Paulo? What then?
Ask owners of small and midsized companies what scares them most about expanding their sales or business operations into foreign countries, and the answer is predictable.
“Risk,” says Ed Dieter, deputy director of the Minnesota Trade Office (MTO), the state’s official export promotion agency, ticking off the top reason small companies with great potential shy away from exporting. “They worry they won’t get paid, that it’s too easy to lose their shirts. They’ll say, ’Look, I get stiffed often enough at home. Why would I take that chance overseas, where there’s nothing I can do about it?’”