Last year, Andrea and I wrote a business plan for an entrepreneurial competition called NYCNext. It was my first experience writing a business plan and to be completely honest, it wasn’t much fun at all. We struggled through executive summaries, I learned about P&L’s (profit and loss spreadsheets calculating how much money you have to spend until you have a profitable business) and ended up with our first business plan for a concept store called “Be.” Although Be didn’t get past the first round, it was well worth it for the forced education in business planning and b-plan writing.
One section that I continue to think and write about is “Customer Problem.” At first, I didn’t understand what it was asking for, but I soon learned “in marketing we refer to opportunities as problems. A problem could be “fixing” something to make it better OR on the positive side, a gap that you see that no one else is addressing.” (thank you about.com) Right now I really want to highlight that the fact that advertising/marketing people refer to “opportunities” as “problems,” but I’ll save that rant for another meditation.
Which brought me face-to-face with one of my big picture business planning issues: Isn’t the real problem that the customer buys too much crap that they subconsciously really think will solve their problems, but just end up feeding the insecurities that propel them to spend their money in the first place? With this in mind, I started writing…
Customer Problem(400 words): Fairness, respectfulness, and safety for all. This is one of our phrases to live by. We are all connected to each other. When greed outweighs equal distribution of resources other options must be considered which can be done on a local level. The middle class and lower class populations around the world share more commonalities than differences. Increase in the cost of food and water, public services deteriorating, and overall stalled momentum to move these classes forward. We are all connected to each other. The clothing America buys which support large corporations do little to support their middle class to lower class counterparts in other countries. We can end the exploitation of the producer and the consumer?
Many truths that pass through our conscious are false truths. The food, entertainment, and clothing we are often told to seek are harmful to the consumer as well as the producer. How can we have sustainable supply chain integration? So all aspects of the industry: design, manufacturing, distribution, customer, end of life of a product are done in responsible, sustainable, humane methods? Who has to bear the financial burden? We all bear the burden and the burden becomes a light load because it is distributed evenly. Customers and producers want fairly traded/sustainable/eco friendly products. They just need help deciding which products those are.
We connect the producer and the consumer because we have to.
…thankfully I stopped after 200 or so words. I guess it never occurred to me that a New York City-based, investor-financed entrepreneurial competition wouldn’t want a communistic diatribe blaming “large corporations” for everyone’s problems.
So…I rewrote it:
Customer Problem(400 words): Customers want access to fairly-traded, ecologically sustainable products. Consumption is essential – we all need products to live and thrive. We want to promote conscious consumption. The idea that people care about where their products come from and, given the choice, will choose products that benefit producers and the environment. (prove with stat) Currently, if you want to buy products that benefit people and the environment, you have to do research, you have to find things online or sort through 10 similar items to find one or two eco-friendly ones on a shelf.
People want to make these choices but its difficult to figure out who to buy from. Some of the solutions come from entrepreneurs who aren’t well known yet. Entrepreneurs in…