A simple business plan

19 01 2010

Unless you want your startup to die, you need to have laser-like focus on your goals.  For some the issue is developing the focus, but for most (like me) the issue is defining clear goals.

I came across a simple one page business plan from Daniel Harkavy recently, and thought I’d put it to the test.  The plan is described in Daniel’s article above, and consists of three parts: outcomes, disciples, and improvements.

Outcomes are the specific and measurable goals for the coming year.  For ClimbPoint, my goals are to sell 10 licenses (2 by mid-February) and contact every university climbing wall in the US (at least 60 by mid-February).

To achieve these outcomes, there are certain disciplines, or behaviors/tasks I’ll need to repeat over and over (note that disciplines are not goals).  For me that means making 15 calls per week (at least one per day), allocating one hour per week to business development, and doing a weekly sales review.

Along the way my efforts will be helped by a few specific improvements, or one-time projects.  So far my list includes creating a master list of all potential customers, drafting a brief survey for these customers (so I can better understand my market), and compiling tips for climbing wall risk management that I can give away as a free resource.

My plan is mainly a sales plan, and is inspired by The Ultimate Sales Machine. To be honest, I am terrified to put this plan into action, because I know that 90% of the people I contact will not be actively thinking about buying what I’m selling.

Hopefully though the next few weeks will be an experiment in which I’ll learn about sales and gain a better understanding of the state of university climbing wall management.


New round of beta testing

12 09 2008

Since starting my sales initiative that I posted about earlier this week I’ve been thinking about ways I could expand the reach of ClimbPoint and increase the size of my market.

I’ve known for awhile that ClimbPoint would probably work really well in community recreation centers but haven’t yet tested it in any of those facilities.  So, starting this week I’ve begun contacting community rec centers with climbing walls about participating in a no obligation beta test of ClimbPoint.

The general terms of the beta test are below, and my primary concern is that I’m being too generous and should be charging some kind of fee to the testers up front.  My rationale for keeping everything no-cost/low commitment is that I need users to attest that the software is in fact awesome and super easy to use.  I also need feedback on what works well and what doesn’t.

The terms

  • I’ll send out a full version of the latest release of ClimbPoint. Beta testers agree to install the program and use it to keep track of climbers at their facility for three months.
  • Testers agree to record their thoughts and suggestions for the software, and every 2-3 weeks we’ll have a brief phone conversation so I can understand how well ClimbPoint fits into the way they work there. As a result of our conversations, I may send out updated versions of the software to install and use at the wall.
  • At the end of the three month testing period Testers are free to continue using the version of ClimbPoint that is currently installed, with no requirement to purchase a full license. They’ll have the option of purchasing a full license at a 20% discount. Purchasing a license will allow them to receive software updates (which add new features), and receive email support.

Well, am I being too generous?  Should I charge a small fee up front for participation?  Will anyone respond?  Thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

Building a sales machine

9 09 2008

I’ve been getting quite a few good ideas about business while reading The Ultimate Sales Machine, some of which I hope to post about here soon.  In the meantime I’d like to fill you in on an initiative that I started a couple weeks ago that’s helping me apply what I’ve been learning.

My goal is to sell four licenses of ClimbPoint by the end of September, which will enable me to travel to AORE out in San Diego to talk with others in outdoor education who are likely to have climbing walls in their rec centers.

Four sounds like a lot to me, but I think it’s doable.  I have a list of over two hundred universities with indoor climbing walls, and my plan is to call about ten universities per week over the span of six weeks.  I’ve already contacted about thirty universities, with mixed results.

Ideally I’d like to contact about a hundred universities by the end of the month, as it would mean that I’d need about a 5% conversion rate to achieve my goal.  We’ll see if the ideas in The Ultimate Sales Machine help me hone my selling skills and ramp up the number of sales calls I can make in a week.

Setting the bar high with a crazy goal like this has been motivating for me.  It also helps that AORE is in San Diego, a place I enjoy visiting.  If I make it there, I’ll definitely spend some time surfing and hanging out on the beach.

For now though, it’s back to working on the machine 🙂


Side note: I realize that in dealing with universities it’s highly unrealistic that I’ll be able to introduce them to ClimbPoint, convince them to buy, and collect the cash all in a month’s time.  It may be a long shot, but I have to try!