I received the following email from Dan last week:
"Pamela: I just signed up for your free reports. I have had a life-long dream of starting a business of historical and authentic Old West and Frontier "reenactments." Instead of the "annual" dates that are celebrated in this country, I would like to take important events in US and Idaho history that for the most part have been forgotten. Instead of the "annual" amateur approach, my idea was to have a continual reservoir of historical and entertaining events for businesses functions, private celebrations and public events. Help. I am still hanging in there, but my friends, fellow actors and even the "Small Business Administration" have informed me that this idea is just not practical. I have invested all of my time and money on costumes, guns and holsters, and properties, but I no longer have actors or investors. I need to either do something with this idea OR put it to sleep. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Dan."
Here is what I sent him in response:
I like to use the backbone of a business plan as a way to analyze any business idea. The Sloan Brothers from Startup Nation have a great list of twelve questions that lay the groundwork for a business plan that works in their book Startup Nation: Open for Business. They are:
- What’s your idea? Describe it in simple terms as you did for me. Your audience (prospects, investors, potential employees) should be able to easily understand what you do.
- How does your idea address a need? This is the biggest question for me with your idea. While I know that you are very passionate about it (which is great!), does anyone else see it as a solution to their problems?
- What model suits you best? Your model may be resource-intensive, or hard to replicate. Would a movie/video/travelling theater work best?
- What’s so different about what you offer? This assumes that you know about competition in this area. Who else is doing like things?
- How big is the market, and how big will you grow? Who are all your potential customers? Is it a growing market, or a finite one?
- What’s your role going to be? Will you be the promoter/actor/invester, etc?
- Who’s on your team? Who else can make sure you succeed with your idea?
- How will customers buy from you, and how much will they pay?
- How much money do you need and how much will you make? What expenses will you have, and what are likely income projections?
- Where’s the startup money coming from? It sounds like you already have gone through some of your own and others’ money. Are there any other sources?
- How will you measure success? Is it purely in revenue terms? Realizing your dream?
- What are your key milestones? Do you have a plan for how to grow this business? What needs to happen, and it what order?
The main gap that I see from the limited amount I know about your plan is the market for your idea. While you have great passion about it, does it address a real need, and is anyone willing to pay money for it?
I never want to discourage people from realizing their dreams. If this doesn’t turn into a viable for-profit business, perhaps you could make money in another way, and fund this as a non-profit? Even in this case, you would have to prove that people are interested in this type of offering.
What other advice would you give Dan? I know he would appreciate your ideas. Thanks!