Friday, November 6, 2009

The Newly Revised Business Plan - Your Thoughts?

On Thursday, I met for an hour and half with a former venture capitalist to get his ideas for my company. I bought lunch, he talked;-).

He had a lot of creative ideas and many were different than my initial ideas. He stressed that most businesses go through many changes as they develop.

He felt I would need a brick and mortar store to be close to the customer and not see it necessarily as an income generator, but a way to "build wealth". He said ecommerce - just having a website with products - has a very, very low actualisation rate - people put stuff in the electronic cart, then leave it there. He quoted something like 15 percent of things even clicked on are actually purchased. He also said that outside Amazon, there are not a lot of successful web marketplaces as there simply isn't a lot of traffic to most independent sites.

He, like my husband, kept insisted that there needs to be some bigger picture, some "brand" around which you are building. He said I needed to find a "mantra" that sums up what I'm trying to do, then partner with people that have the skill sets I lack. He suggested I try to go into a partnership with some of the former VPs of marketing or procurement that were from big companies like Gap or American Girl or the Children's Place that had a strong knowledge of how to get things made, how to run a store, how to market to a large audience.

And I must admit, sitting there, that I found it highly unlikely this part-time teacher was going to draw a lot of former executives from publicly traded companies just beating down the door to join forces, but hey, you gotta think big!

On the way home, I was thinking about my letter to the founder of American Girl and it caused me to wonder why there had never been an American Boy. The company's model is very creative and educational with dolls placed in different time periods with an accompanying book and story line.

Coming home, I typed in American Boy and found a website of other moms who had also thought this would be a great idea.

Further brainstorming and talking with my older son, made my enthusiasm for the concept grow.

So now I'm thinking of a set of stories with both boys and girls who are in historic settings and meet famous people of their time, maybe Lincoln, or Copernicus, or Martin Luther King, or Washington. The goal of the story will be for the reader to have a historic understanding of what was happening in that time period, what it really meant to be in the French Revolution, why Napoleon reached such heights of success and why he eventually was exiled.

To try and get across these historic concepts, in each story, the kids will visit a "curious looking cottage" in which some sage older person will live that will "teach the lesson".

And this cottage will be filled with knowledge and learning and as per my original plan, clocks with math equations, quilts with maps, and drinking glasses with French phrases. And these items will also be offered for sale, though I'm not sure how it will all fit together.

I'm not sure how it will all unfold as I type tonight, November 6, 2009, but I'm excited at the idea of kids learning about the Russian revolution or Gandhi's feats through the eyes of a child who lived then.

What do you think??? Still in the brainstorming stage. And are any of you doing a new business?? Eileen


  1. I think the brick and mortar shop would be awesome, and I think this would be the best manifestation of your ideal/idea...

    That said, I have the long standing dream to open a Recycle Shop in my home town, not just full of second hand clothes and items, but also with a work area equipped with sewing machines, fabric scraps, and all manner of reusable stuff such as glass jars, egg cartons, cardboard, paper bags, etc for people to take or leave to be reused or participate in craft workshops for a small fee or as part of some kind of membership... I like the name "What Came Around".

  2. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea! A friend who sews was commenting the other day how surprised she was at the number of highschool and college age people she's been seeing at the fabric supply store. She wasn't sure if it was an offshoot of the success of Project Runway, or just a return to enjoying creativity for its own sake. And now would be great timing as I've also noticed the number of people in all the various thrift/resale shops I haunt is ever increasing. And what a wonderful way to nurture creativity in your own home town. Eileen

  3. I have noticed that too. I think a lot of the frugal values are becoming more hip as political statements and less as things poor/old people do. I remember my mom saying that someone she knew developed a habit of saving and frugality "because of the depression" and here we are, in a specific economic climate and all these money saving things are often necessary, and therefore more socially acceptable and even popular.

    I [as I look young for my age] was, for years, "that girl who brings her own bags" check out staff knew me by sight. I felt vindicated when, three or four years ago, my local commissary put up a large poster that read "Utilizing reusable bags show patriotism" with a chart underneath it showing the cost per bag, how both paper and plastic must be trucked in, what materials had to be used, etc. showing the savings in resources (especially petroleum products). Now it seems everyone uses cloth bags....
    Everything old is new again. In this case, yay us.
    Also, I wanted to suggest those pencil boxes that have the alphabet on them or the folders with conversions on the inside flap, both double use -though somewhat very common...

  4. Antoinette, Thanks for the suggestions and I agree that thrift and frugality, good are becoming quite in vogue again, whether for environmental or financial reasons. And for many, the desire to live more simply is a consideration. Good for you for being in front of the pack;-). Eileen