Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bill Bartmann’s Business Plan on a Napkin

Bill Bartmann was a 14-year old runaway who joined a street gang, became an alcoholic at the age of 17; and then worked at a slaughterhouse to put himself through college. Would you take advice from someone who lived this lifestyle?

Bill Bartmann is one of the greatest business experts of all time; highly recognized, greatly respected and very successful, many times over. His success at becoming a self-made billionaire was examined as a case study at the Harvard Business School.

Bill Bartmann says to get big, think small; at least three critical elements of your business should fit on a napkin.

What is Your Business?

Bill Bartmann teaches his students how important it is to have a business plan with an executive summary; however, you also need a napkin-sized paper that states what you business is really about.

On Bill Bartmann’s napkin, it says, “We treat delinquent borrowers with dignity and respect. As a result, they pay off our debt first.”

This is the statement that helped Bill Bartmann’s debt collection company be thee first to be rated by Standard & Poors. Every successful business needs a defining message that clearly states what makes them different from their competitors.

What is Your Number?

When Bill Bartmann graduated from law school he was focused on earning a decent income. In 1975, when the average first-year associates were earning $40,000, Bill Bartmann opened his own practice. People told him he was crazy not to start out in a big firm as he went his own way and made $100,000 his first year.

Bill Bartmann believes having a clear idea of your income goal will help you to reach it. What number did Bill Bartmann write on his napkin?

Think about it as you consider Bill Bartmann’s way of measuring monetary success. Bill Bartmann build a multimillion dollar business in real estate; on paper, his net worth looked great. This isn’t necessarily an accurate measure because it must be converted to money before it can be spent.

Bill Bartmann’s 40 years experience in business led him to measure monetary success with cash flow. Know exactly how much money you have in the bank, minus obligations that are nearing their due date. Of course there are other financial measures that make up the big picture, but keep your main focus on the critical napkin number.

How is your Business doing?

You might need a large dinner napkin for this one, but that is the size limit. Bill Bartmann used one sheet of paper, containing a few dozen key metrics for his company. By having one single sheet of paper to refer to each day, he was able to quickly spot and address problems.

Avoid being overwhelmed by multiple spreadsheets; cut your business measurement tools down to one page of numbers that are leading indicators of your business success. Simply looking at revenues and expenses is only looking at the past; this is no way to run a business.

Avoid information overload and get down to the true essence of what your business is about and where it is heading. By reducing the clutter you will achieve your goals quicker.

Bill Bartmann is the creator of the Billionaire Business Systems, an online business essentials course for entrepreneurs. Bill Bartmann’s series of videos, books and seminars has helped many entrepreneurs succeed in business even during tough economic times. Read Bill Bartmann's article How to Write a Business Plan.

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