Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Succession Planning Is Important

Years ago I heard the head of Claire's talk about the importance of succession planning. The daughter had taken over the business from the father and had continued to build the chain's growth. Since my teenage daughter loved Claire's, the story was particularly meaningful to me. Now, when I read about family businesses, I think of Claire's.

Most family businesses do not survive more that two or three generations. Kids have different interests than their parents. Siblings fight. Siblings have different goals and values, even when they grow up in the same family.

But if you want to keep your family business alive, take time to read the New York Times article "Lack of Succession Plan Puts Family Venture at Risk"  --

The article makes it clear how lack of a plan can tear a family and its business apart. It also has tips on how to do things right in building a family business with lasting value.

In my area, UCONN has a family business center that provides useful information and courses to help promote and sustain family businesses.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nonprofit Business Plan Template

Someone who is starting a new nonprofit to help people age in place asked me for a copy of our Aging in Place in Darien plan. Since the plan has not yet been approved by our board, but since I would like to provide some guidance, I've decided to post a template for a nonprofit business plan. This is how we structured ours. But other organizations can use other formats.

Please keep in mind that the most important part of writing a business plan is the planning itself -- asking the hard questions, thinking about them, discussing them and reaching consensus. Then, you need to find someone who can write clearly to capture the consensus. An outline or template is a good beginning, but it take a lot of work to fill in the blanks. The process can take up to 60 hours, including the writing, editing and financial projections.

If you need help developing your business plan, I would welcome the opportunity to consult with you. Feel free to contact me at: upstartwyn@gmail.com.

Here is the outline/template.


Web site:


Beneficiaries, Value and Competitive Advantage

Opportunity to Make a Difference

Research Results

History and Accomplishments

Standing Committees

Business Model
• Member Benefits :
• Communication –
• Fundraising –

Organization and Operations

Board of Directors

Competitive Analysis


Advisory Board

Source of Funds and Fundraising
Financial Projections

Three Year Budget Projections
Assuming Current Configuration - Prudent Budget
Expenses Assumptions Year 1 Year 2 Year 3

Monday, March 1, 2010

Entrepreneurs in Residence and VCs

It seems that finding venture capital is getting even harder. With tons and tons of entrepreneurs and inventors out there looking for funding for their big ideas, some venture capital firms are looking away from them and into their own firms. The VCs are hiring entrepreneurs with a track record to become an entrepreneur in residence. The "EIRs" are given an office and a salary to sit and think up new great ideas for businesses. The VCs are looking for these EIRs to come up with something "disruptive."

This reminds me of Hollywood, where producers just keep going with the same directors and redoing the same types of movies - trying to be safe to ensure a profit. (How many Batmans can they make???) That is not how you get breakthrough brilliance. That's not how you get an original Star Wars or a Google or an Amazon or even a Xerox. I've worked with serial entrepreneurs -- not every idea is a winner - but they get funding because they had a winner once upon a time. I think VCs are making a mistake with the EIRs. They should be trolling for the hidden great ideas that are out there among the unknowns.

There's a long article about EIR in The New York Times, with a particular focus on Foundation Capital in Silicon Valley in California. Here's a link to the article  -