This is one of many reasons why Jon Williams—co-owner of sippable bone broth company Bo & Marrow—recommends that every entrepreneur have a business plan. He and his wife/business partner, Diane, have journeyed through enough entrepreneurial highs and lows to be well-worth listening to.
These two have hustle and grit
The business started when Jon and Diane wanted to create something new in Edmonton. They both have a passion for helping people, so they thought that bringing a product to the market that truly heals from the inside out and is foreign to most Canadians made sense.
Sipping on bone broth stems from an age-old tradition of boiling bones to extract their nutrients—the benefits include improved skin health, recovery from injury, pain relief, hormone balance, improved energy and digestion.
“I had arthritis in my knees from a car accident in 2001 and was drinking bone broth to help with my joints and inflammation,” explained Jon, “and Diane grew up drinking bone broth as a digestive aid with most meals without ever really knowing what it was for.”
In 2015 they took the leap, leaving their secure jobs in civil engineering and dental hygiene to pour themselves into their idea. Talk about guts! These two really put everything on the line—they sold their home in Windermere, liquidated what they could to free up cash, and convinced MacEwan University to let them move into one of their vacant 400 sq. ft. dorms for spring/summer. “With our stuff packed in storage, we really clamped down on spending and really focused on our next moves for the business.” Bo & Marrow sold its first bag of product on May 27, 2016 at the Southwest Farmers’ Market in Edmonton.
Getting down to business planning
Jon and Diane didn’t have a business plan from the start. “Diane and I created a business plan once we saw that we could truly make this a viable business—it honestly took us about six months to get serious about the business plan.”
But when they got serious, they got serious.
Instead of trying to hack away at one themselves—despite Jon’s knowledge of the basics—they knew they wanted someone professional to help them out. After searching for credible companies and consultants, they narrowed it down to two candidates: an experienced pro for $1,500 and a local MBA student for $500. After seeing some excellent work samples, they went with the student. Once they filled out several in-depth questionnaires and made some revisions, Jon and Diane finally had their very own 40+ page business plan.
“We’ve since revised it three times to keep with the everyday changes and different paths Bo & Marrow has taken,” Jon revealed, “and it could easily be revised again.”
What goes into a plan?
Jon shared the main bodies of information they included in their business plan:
An Executive Summary
Products & Services
Bo & Marrow Management Bios
“When you hire the right people, nothing is difficult,” said Jon of writing a business plan. “The difficulty comes from finding the right people for the right job and for the right price—and when you look long and hard enough, you’ll always find what you are looking for!”
Why a business plan?
“The payoff was having something that we can reflect on from time to time to remind ourselves what our goals are, who are our target demographics are, what our market strategy is,” explained Jon. “Who are our competitors? Where are they located? Has any of this changed?” he continues to list the questions that a business plan answers.
Jon is adamant that the main reason to have a business plan is for yourself. “It’s most effective as a personal reflection tool to always keep on track and stay focused, and to always be questioning things such as, ‘Are we doing things as we set to do? Are we spending money targeting the people we set out to target? Has our competition changed? Are we reaching our milestones in a timely manner? If not, do we need to make changes—and if so, what are those changes?’ A business plan is simply a guideline for the owners to be accountable to themselves.”
A little advice
What’s Jon’s advice to new entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurs new to business plans?
“I would say that as redundant as it seems to have one in hand these days—’cause most will tell you no one ever reads them—it’s essential to have one for yourself and your company! Shop around for pricing if you choose to use a pro. Hiring someone eliminates another small struggle to tackle solo. Conquering these small feats day in and day out with the help of others is what gets you closer to success every day—baby steps.”
Are you looking for more guidance with starting your business? We’ve got you covered! Check out our Entrepreneur's Guide to Starting a Business. It’s full of helpful advice and resources to lead you through the ins and outs of starting your dream biz—including a business plan template, if you’re feeling up to making a plan yourself.