Lean Rhino is a service that delivers business plans, proposals, marketing plans, operations manuals, and grant writing services economically yet with high quality results. With an inquisitive nature and a need to constantly poke into the unknown, Michael has the drive and passion to help entrepreneurs craft business solutions and get them to the best possible start on their ventures.
For the latest on Michael's business and for tips for business owners, check out the Lean Rhino blog.
1. I love the name of your business, so I have to start by asking: how did you come up with it?
Thanks, yeah I really love the name and get so many positive comments on it. I actually came up with it totally by accident. As I was deciding on a name for the website, I knew that I wanted to use the word "lean" because it portrays the main vision for this business--which is helping entrepreneurs come up with a great business plan for less money. The rhino part actually came about because of my 4 year old son's fascination with rhinos--and when I put the two words together, they just seemed to flow well and thus leanrhino.com was born!
2. Why did you decide to consolidate or reduce the usual lengthy business plan down to eight pages?
After helping a friend do a business plan for his start up business, the loan officer at the bank commented on how much he liked the business plan because it was straight to the point. He went on to say that most of the business plans he gets are full of "fluff" and filler and all look the same. Most loan officers only look at key sections of the business plan, and all the extra jargon doesn't help and in some cases actually hurts the chances of someone getting a loan.
After speaking with a number of people about their experiences with business plan consultants, it was evident that many people were paying for information they just didn't need, wasn't relevant, and didn't add any value to the business. With the 8-page business plans I aim to give people a high quality business plan for a fraction of the cost of what they would otherwise pay so they can keep their money for the important stuff--like running their business.
3. Can a fledgling business really say all they need to banks, potential investors, etc in just eight pages?
Yes--the 8-page business plans cover everything a traditional business plan does, only more focused, concise, cheaper and done faster. All the banks and investors we spoke with loved the idea of a concise business plan that gets to the point without all the filler materials.
There are a few cases where the business plan requires more information, such as businesses that have a large real estate component or if they are looking for funding greater than $250,000. In these cases, I will work very closely with the business owners and make sure that we produce the best business plan possible.
Another benefit to keeping business plans concise is that they have to be very specific to your business and as such they are always Custom Made! We don't use templates or add information simply to fill pages.
Even though our business plans are 8 pages, they are the result of a lot of market research and consultation with the business founder. We never create a business plan in isolation; the entrepreneur is always involved and leading the development.
Finally, all business plans we produce are professionally designed so they are appealing and present a professional appearance to bankers and investors. My priority as the owner of Lean Rhino is always to make sure that every client is happy with the business plan they get.
4. What should an entrepreneur do before starting to work on a business plan--or hiring someone to work on their plan?
Before an entrepreneur decides to work on a business plan, it is a good idea for them to really understand what they are getting themselves into. Running a business is hard work and often creates a certain lifestyle for the entrepreneur that they may not have anticipated. For example, a retail business will provide a much different lifestyle than a service based business--one is stationary and the owner has to be at the location for many hours per day, and the other is mobile where there might be more flexibility in working hours. All business startups are hard work and one is not necessarily easier than the other, but it is important to realize what lifestyle your business demands and be ready for it.
5. Do you think that you're able to bring something unique to the table by looking at someone's business from an "outside" perspective? In other words, do you find that you're able to see and express things that someone might miss in trying to describe his or her own company?
I believe that my experience writing business plans and my Masters in Business Administration from one of the top universities in Canada allows me to bring a level of expertise that helps business owners think through the important aspects of their business.
I think of a business plan as a runway before the takes off. Just like it would be far worse to find a problem with a plane after takeoff, it's better to discover a problem with your plan before you launch the business. This is what our business plans do--they give confidence to business owners before they start.
Often business owners are so invested in their idea that they may not be able to see all the roadblocks that lie ahead of them. As the author Seth Godin would say, it's important to know if you have the resources and the will to fight through the dip of any business venture before starting. Our business plans help to bring focus, clarity and expertise by coming in with fresh eyes.
Finally, I want to thank you very much for the opportunity to be featured in your blog!