Prospective clients occasionally ask me why I started BizPlanShark. Every business has a story and every story has its origins. Most are much more understated in real life and have much less of a Hollywood-style epiphany than you would think. This is true of many juggernauts, like Whole Foods (started by two friends in their 20s who liked healthy food and actually lived in their first) and Apple (started in a garage). This is also true of many small businesses, including BizPlanShark.
I wrote my first business plan while I was completing my MBA in New York in 2005. It was for a medical company that was developing a portable neonatal scanner that would allow doctors in remote parts of Africa to assess the health of a pregnant woman and her baby without requiring her to visit a hospital - which for many was not an option. That plan was for a $1.5 million grant, but many of the plans we write today are for much more modest amounts as new and existing businesses require as low as $150,000 to continue or begin operations.
Every business has a story and every story has its origins. Most are much more understated in real life and have much less of a Hollywood-style epiphany than you would think.
I did not return to writing business plan until 2009, when the idea for BizPlanShark was born while I was working for a Toronto start-up. The company was founded by a husband and wife team - both young, visionary entrepreneurs with backgrounds in IT, but with no formal business training. While we had a good product, we could not sell or market it as well as we had hoped. Instead of a defined vision for strategy, we were operating in a very opportunistic manner - from one day to the next.
Seeing that things were not progressing as well as we had hoped, I asked our CEO for a copy of our business plan and suddenly everything became clear. The document, while extensive, lacked a marketing plan, a pragmatic assessment of the market opportunity (one of the two reasons for the majority of business 'deaths' - read our blog post on that here), and lacked a solid go-to-market strategy.
This is when I realized that small businesses - whether tech start-ups or traditional brick-and-mortar establishments - can greatly benefit from the type of strategic, marketing, business planning and financial expertise that is typically reserved (due to very high cost) for larger companies. Thus, BizPlanShark was born - with the mission to provide this level of insight to small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
BizPlanShark started in Toronto, but has now advised entrepreneurs across Canada, US and Europe.
I still maintain my corporate career during the day - driving global marketing, sales and business development for a company with over $100MM in revenues. My passion, however, and greatest reward, comes in bringing the knowledge and experience - along with that of other associates who work with me - to small businesses, helping make them more resilient, better-informed and deliberately successful.
Alex from BizPlanShark