Podcaster RK Castillo chats it up with Steve Sue of BizGym as test drive podcast. Why? 1. to gain a good overview of the philosophy behind the revolutionary BizGym system, and; 2. to introduce BizGym to the world of podcast production. Included herein:
- What is BizGym?
- Do I need a Business Plan?
- What’s the Difference Between Mission & Vision?
- What the Difference Between Goals & Objectives?
- How do You Make a Great Elevator Pitch?
RK:All right. What’s up guys? This is RK and I’m here today with Steve Sue from BizGym. Steve, thank you for being here today with us.
Steve Sue:Thanks, RK. We’re excited to be here.
RK:I just wanted to ask you some questions today about BizGym and what BizGym does, and why it’s important, so tell me about BizGym what it is, what it’s for?
Steve Sue:BizGym is like an “Mad Lib” on steroids. It’s like a “Twitterized” business plan, so the idea behind BizGym is that if – if you have good ideas about your business and the business is like a 1,001 really good ideas on it together, BizGym helps you just log your ideas insert in idea banks. So, rather than writing a traditional business plan which a lot of paragraphs, we’re really trying to get you to do little sounds bites, but the cool thing about BizGym is that it takes the sound bites, stores them in a database and then takes those sound bites and repurposes them on a number of templates. So, for example if you were interested in doing a business card, you would obviously write a name and a slogan and your name on the card. And so if you write that on our template, then you already have to think about your name and a slogan. If you don’t know how to write a name or a slogan then there’s help boxes that pop-up and say, here’s examples, here’s some tips, here’s some formulas in any formulas for example like kind of coin or word.
Steve Sue:So, once you write it in the system, that populates not only your business card template, but it also populates the brochure template, a storefront template if you’re going to do a bricks and mortar and then all the way through to a business plan. And so the cool thing is that you can change that content anywhere in the system and it updates your story, so that you could see your story in multiple context.
RK:Wow, wow. And, so anyone can pretty much – all you have to do is answer a few questions and then something pops-up a business plan for you?
Steve Sue:Yeah, yeah. And it’s really like a huge checklist to success because if you filled in all the blanks, you’re going to figure out – okay, well I know the things I didn’t know, you know – help get help for a specific thing like I have no clue how to do a slogan, so get some marketing person to help me come up with something poetic.
RK:So, it’s just does it? Just –
Steve Sue:It just does it. It’s a great crowd-source platform, you know to group things and it’s also a great way to just to know that you’ve covered all your bases because I’m sort of fond of saying – and we teach this to the kids. Our system is used all the way down through middle school.
Steve Sue:And I’m fond of saying that, you know in school if you get 90% right, that’s generally an “A” but in business, if you get 90% right, that’s good , but the 10% you don’t get right, is the 10% that your competition is going to absolutely hammer you on. And so in business that’s an “F,” right?
RK:Wow, yeah exactly.
Steve Sue:So, we’re trying to get you to a 100% clarity of what your business is to have all of the answers, so that you don’t get hammered in the future.
RK:Okay, so you know let me just play a little bit of devil’s advocate here. Do I really need a business plan for my business to succeed?
Steve Sue:Some people, like one of the experts in this field Guy Kawasaki, he’s an old Apple guy, and he’s a sort of a quite essential thinker on business today, he would tell you don’t need a business plan. He says pitch and sell and evolve. I think there’s some truth to that in fast developing businesses, but by large even in his business it’d be who’s you to plan, so I think his response is more one of that business planning is really painful and really slow. BizGym is a solution to that. It makes business planning very fast and very painless and you do pitching at the same time as planning. So I think that we’ve solved his issue and I would have it to say that being probably very much approve of what we’re doing and say, yeah, you know what, pitching and plan at the same time. Use BizGym.
RK:Yeah, yeah. I mean it never really hurts to plan, you know.
RK:And at least they’ll give you a roadmap to kind of follow along the way to bring just some – you know because I think of entrepreneurs. You’re so busy, you have so much stuff to do, you know it helps if you say, you know I need to focus on this right now to make my business succeed and so, you know you start bringing focus and clarity into your business to help your business grow.
Steve Sue:Yeah, absolutely.
RK:Okay, so tell me, okay it doesn’t hurt to have a business plan. What goes into a business plan specifically?
Steve Sue:Well, business plan generally starts with like mission. Why do you exist? And that’s something that a lot of business people forget. It’s like, why am I doing this in the first place? So, I have a calling. Whom am I trying to effect. Who am I trying to help? What do they get? A lot of times business people are all about the nuts and bolts of their business. I have to make X number of dollars to survive. I need to buy resources to make my product. But the reality is business is about your customer.
So, the first thing is to be customer-centric. It is a whole line of thought as to how do you do that in the business plan. So, you know audience analysis. The fancy people call it audience segmentation and that’s just a fancy way of really kind of diving in and finding out who your specific audiences are. So business plans have that sort of analysis in them then you go and analyze your competitors because you wanted to know that there’s a market that exist and you want to know what you’re up against because often times you want to find the softs spot in the market that nobody is serving.
Steve Sue:Or that’s underserved. You know, issues. How do you fund. How do you get the resources to start and maintain your business. All of those things are part of business planning. I find that most entrepreneurs miss a real critical element which is called entitlements. Some people refer just IP or Intellectual Property which is to say, how do I protect my market space? Do I have a patent or a copyright? Do I have a brand that’s trademarked? Do I have trade secrets that I protect and I keep in a vault somewhere like Coca-Cola’s recipe or Kentucky Fried Chicken’s recipe?
Steve Sue:Entitlement is something that a lot of business people entirely miss. And it’s a life and death in business because you could start a business to from the market for somebody else and they come in and bounce you.
RK:Right, interesting, interesting. Okay, so if we’re going to go – so, first part of the business plan would be kind of market analysis to find out what your customers want and you give it to them?
Steve Sue:Mission/Vision on to who you’re serving. How you connect to those around you including of course your customers, but certainly even your competitors. I’m fond of saying you should turn a competitor into an allie.
Steve Sue:Because they’re in a similar business to you and there’s probably some synergism, so why fight them? You know, like work together with people. It’s a lot more efficient for the market in the world at large.
How do you connect with the community? Because ultimately if you’re trying to find someone to help, you know there’s areas where you going to make profit on this other areas where maybe there’s more of a marketing focus that you do something good for community group like a church or a non-profit and you get some credibility in your market space then people would flock your business because you’re and expert in that. These are things that are sort of into – intuitively known in business, but not necessarily squarely addressed in some business plans and again that’s market efficiency. How do you make the world go round better, not just for your own business, but for the world at large. So, that’s sort of that bottom layer.
I think of business planning in terms of like a tree. So, if you take a tree as a metaphor for your business, you might think that like the rootstock which is to say, you know what’s your business entitlement? What are the trends that – the economic trends that you’re trying to work on? Who do you help? Mission? That sort of thing. So, the rootstock of the tree is what births the seedling – sapling grows it up. By the time you get to the trunk of the tree, then you’re dealing with branch structures, so that’s like the name of your company, your logo. These are all like shortcut ways to tell your whole story in a very fast and symbolic fashion.
Steve Sue:On tagline, branding people, like to talk about the personally of their companies, so there’s way to define the characteristics of what that personality or character is and by the time you get to the canopy of the tree then you’re dealing with the fruits of your labor. Which is to say that fruits on a tree are grouped. Usually when you’re trying to fix something that’s a low-hanging, you know like a sample product. You go to Costco, they’re giving away samples. That’s like a trial product and they’re trying to insight you to be interested in some product they have on their shelf eventually you’re going there for need or there’s you something which is your destination product and in between you have a thing called an upsell which all of these carry different margins, so if you’re doing a trial product often times it’s free. Or it’s a loss-leader.
Steve Sue:Often times you see where a company is giving away product for less than it cost them. That’s what the definition of a loss-leader is and if you get people the sample and to go to your marquees which is a fair market, ultimately you can have a product that is a high margin that’s very convenient or associated with stuff you’re already buying from them. So if you go to a clothing store for example and you’re buying an outfit and it’s really cute, but you have to have the sunglasses and a bell to the socks, those are examples of upsell products which you can barter higher margins. So, these are the things that you’ll deal like the fruit in your canopy and of course the leaves in the tree metaphor are sales and marketing.
Steve Sue:So, how do you make your fruit shine? How do you present them to the world?
RK:And the leaves pull in the sunlight which gives the nourishment to the key to continue –
Steve Sue:You bet.
RK:Yeah, It’s brilliant.
Steve Sue:Yeah, yeah.
RK:So, a business plan is not so much like a step one, step two, step three. It’s like a living organism like a tree that are –
Steve Sue:Yeah, yeah. All things are related.
RK:Yeah, that’s brilliant.
Steve Sue:You can’t grow with just a trunk and that was the problem with like, you know in technology we have that whole .com debacle in the 90’s well there were lot big trees going really fast with huge canopies, but no roots.
Steve Sue:And so the first time the wind blew, they all fell down.
RK:Fell. [Laughing] Yeah, yeah.
Steve Sue:So write a business plan because that’s the good way to ensure that you have roots and a trunk and leaves and you know what your fruit are.
RK:Yeah, yeah. So, you said earlier kind of like you have to ask the first question why am I starting a business, what’s your vision, what’s your mission seem and as the business, so tell me what’s the difference between a vision and a mission statement for a business?
Steve Sue:A mission statement is generally reguarded as a more tactical statement than a vision statement. So, vision is – and you can go all over the internet and research this because there’s so much content on this because it’s one of the symantic issues within the business space, but in my research I found pretty much the agreed upon definition of a vision is that it’s a higher level than a mission. So, vision is like what was I called to do. If you believe in God, what God asked me to do. And God would come down and say, RK, I want you to help this group of people and give them this. And of course you’ll make money in the process.
Steve Sue:So, that’s amused like division. Who do you help, what do they get, probably what your secret sauce is. You know, what is the thing that you do that’s special and solves their problem. A mission statement is all of the above plus some tactics, so when I talk about what is my secret sauce, what is the thing that I do in business that’s unique. Business people call that a unique selling proposition that’s a critical part of a mission statement, but the more critical part is tactically how do I achieve that unique selling proposition, so in the case of BizGym for example, our unique selling proposition is we’ve got this “Twitterized” business plan management device, so the tactics we employ to deliver that are Internet, website, back end database, you know knowledge management tools.
Steve Sue:So, you have to understand tactically, but your audience now, doesn’t really care about all that lower line stuff. They’re just like -I just want to know what I’d get.
Steve Sue:I need to know that you acknowledge who I am and that I get something out of you as a business. So, internally, the mission statement is to guide your internal staff to understand, okay we need to build a website and get a knowledge management back-end functioning. Line up the engineers.
RK:Yeah. I think of it vision is like if you’re a military – the vision is to win the war, the mission is this is how you’re going to win this battle that’s right in front of you.
Steve Sue:Yeah, exactly in Tun Su’s terminology I think that’s probably correct. So, there – again it’s sort of strata, you know it’s like a 30,000 foot level versus more than 10,000 foot level for sure.
RK:Yeah, yeah. It’s great. So, but within a mission, like you’re talking about the different tactical things, you know I think within winning a battle in a war you have the infantry and then you have the air force and you have all these different things, so in a mission there’s probably objectives and goals that you got to accomplish actually to win this mission. So what’s the difference between a goal and an objective?
Steve Sue:Generally a goal is regarded as something as higher level than an objective. So if you look at goals for a company – company like goals and might be, you know win the war, or take that hill. An objective might be if you’re infantry 12, your objectives are to make sure your men are clothed and they’re – they have ammo and, you know more tactical level.
RK:Yeah, yeah. Good. Okay now let’s transition a little bit. You know, you have your mission, you have your vision, you have your goals, your objectives and you’ve created a plan that kind of get there and out there and win the war. Let’s talk about a way that a new business owner can talk to someone about what they do and how they do it, you know – I mean I want to know especially how BizGym help with this is how do you create the famous elevator pitch.
RK:How do you make an elevator pitch? You know, you have 30 seconds to go up in elevator and someone asks you what you do and where you can do it in a way that creates curiosity and awareness of what your company does and that sort of thing.
Steve Sue:This is the beauty of BizGym. Your elevator speech or pitch – it’s used both ways – is really the same content as your vision statement because it’s all audience focus, you know. Marketing and sales people are always talking about being audience centric. So, they always teach you to say “you” or “your” because that puts you in a frame of mind of understanding your audience and acknowledge them. So there’s no better way to acknowledge them and to tell them who they are because that’s like [0:15:00]reiterating what you understand them to be. So if I know that and an audience is – are entrepreneurs, self-starting people that are interested in making the world a better place, that’s kind of the first thing that should come out of my mouth when I meet in an elevator, and the whole thing – the metaphor and the elevator pitch maybe the backup is the definition the business term is, if you have the chance to pitch somebody in an office elevator on what you do in your business and how you can do something with them from a business context, you want to that like in a few floors. It’s not like the World Trade Center.
Steve Sue:They’re rebuilding it now, right?
Steve Sue:It was gone for a while. But it’s coming back taller than ever, but you’re not going to get 108 floors to explain what your business is because the guy’s going to get off at, you know floor 28 and take the next express elevator up, so if you’re lucky you’ll get like 4 to 7 floors. If you can give an elevator spiel in one sentence, that sort of idea. So I want to help self-starting entrepreneurs, get up and out to make the world a better place and I’d do that through better business planning and pitch development all the same time, that’s enough.
Steve Sue:Because the idea with anything in audience realm is you want them to pull the story from you. So, give them a chance to do that. So, if they understand that you get who they are and what they get. Which is – what they get is a lot of theory on this whole value proposition communication. Normally they say you sell to a negative. So, if you acknowledge a deep need or desire – you know that’s why sex is used so much because everybody wants sex with somebody better than they got, hey there you go. So, maybe that’s true or may be not, but it opens peoples ears, so that’s kind of playing to like the emotional side of the pendulum, but many people would say – well in marketing, they’ll say play to the negative side first. Like in the case of your computer here on this desk – I went to Best Buy one day and I noticed a product on the wall and it was a Norton Antivirus Software – it’s purely on sale on fear. I have no idea what that disc is going to do, but I’m like standing and looking at for $29.95 and I’m like oh should I have that installed on my computer because if I don’t, my computer is going to blow up.
Steve Sue:Right? And so the guy behind the desk, he goes, do you want that? I’m going to go, oh I don’t know. I mean this isn’t before I got into my whole computer. I had PC’s back in the day, so anyway –
RK:Before you were converted to the other side.
Steve Sue:Exactly. So, I have faith in both worlds, but I’m on the other side now and I was looking at it, I said no because I have a Mac now and he goes oh, okay well, you know if you had a PC this would be a good thing for you. And I thought about it as really interesting, so I got into this discussion with him about it and – you know, that’s something that’s an easy sell there. And I started thinking about it because I’m thinking, yeah if I do a soft sell on it, it’s like I’m afraid – but if I see benefit in it – then I’ll buy it.
So, sometimes acknowledging the soft and the hard side of your sell is really important. You can probably do that in an elevator pitch, but in any event, as long as you get to your benefits – state your audience – state the benefits, that’s all you need because then they’ll ask you so exactly what do you do and I always say the next step from you is to ask them what they do, because the more you can contextualize and understand what their needs might be, the better you can respond to them. So, talk about them because that’s consistent with the first principal, which is to know your audience.
RK:Yeah. You know, that reminds me of a story. I was actually writing up an elevator with a guy who wants to – a meeting and he asked me the famous, you know well, what do you do? And, you know it turns out I found out he was a business editor of the local newspaper here, right?
RK:And so, I start talking about what we’re doing and we walked out. Two weeks later, he had his one his reporters call me, interview me, and got a half page right in the business section of the paper about a business and I didn’t realized it till later that I totally did an elevator pitch in an elevator and I had no clue that I did it and I even did it right, you know, and so it’s like – it’s totally what you do. You know, you say I help, you feel in the blank, you know whatever your customer is because that’s – I learned that you find their need and their problem and you find out how to help them.
Steve Sue:Yeah, exactly.
RK:So, my elevator pitch wasn’t a bad how to, you know how awesome I am found out that as a newspaper, they’re losing customers to the Internet, you know, they’re getting less money from advertising, and I said, well how are you going to transition to online and monetizing your online, so we start talking about that as well as this is what I think that your customers need and this is how we help them and viola, you know. And [0:20:00]totally I had no idea during that elevator pitch in an elevator, but I did it, I asked him –
Steve Sue:Well, that was a good point because like in elevator pitch, to be really good it should be like a headline and Internet speak, like a blog post where all are like “How To…” right?
Steve Sue:”Top Five…”, “Top Three Tips…” or whatever, but how to solve a problem, it’s like, I help “Blind Persons…
Steve Sue:…Get Benefits… that’s “How To…” I help – like in your case you do SEO and web-builds, right?
Steve Sue:So, “I help people with websites get to noticed on the Internet.”
Steve Sue:That’s called SEO.
Steve Sue:Oh, well I can write an article on that. That’s easy.
Steve Sue:And it probably SEO’s pretty well because all the right language is in there – key language.
RK:Exactly, everything that everyone wants to know. Yeah, “Seven Steps to Getting This…” you know. Seven steps to giving benefits or whatever.
Steve Sue:Yeah, yeah.
RK:Well, you know this has been great. Any way that people can – they can find BizGym, find out they can sign up that kind of thing. Tell me what people [Cross-talk] –
Steve Sue:Yeah, yeah. So, they just go to BizGym.com and at BizGym.com you can write an elevator pitch, a mission, a business plan for free. And my thing on that is it’s public domain information, you know I didn’t write it all. I kind of scraped a lot of books together and put everybody’s thoughts in the same place and then added few my own. And I’m plenty happy for people to enjoy that – its freeware.
We do have an upgrade model which includes a financial modeler, so if you’re at the level of maturation that you need to go searching for money, the money guys – the investors – they wanted to see some financials, so use the financial modeler which is I think the easiest one to use out there, you fill in some blanks and you’re reports are generated for you – 5 year projections then you have something good and that’s less than 5 bucks a month. We have a lot of students used that for their class assignments, so they go on and used the free version for months and then the last month of the semester, they’ll go upgrade for 5 bucks and use the financial modeler, get their projects, then print them out and –
Steve Sue:Then they go off the site and we’re totally happy with that. You know, it’s a – I think it’s a great value for them – and I just want people to use it. From our stand point or business model, you know if we get enough people use it again at that 5 buck a month even if they only paid once in their life, it’s all good.
RK:Yeah, exactly. And you said it’s simple enough for middle school kid can use it on up to college kids?
Steve Sue:Yeah, in fact we do a non-profit business plan competition. It’s a business competition called Lemonade Alley. It’s for kids all the way down to kindergarten – K to 12 and the kids, even in kindergarten are using our one page business planner which is called the StoryTree – so that whole metaphor of a tree that I described –
Steve Sue:That’s in BizGym and even a grade school kid can do a one-page business plan for free.
RK:Yeah, for free. Yeah, so go check it out – BizGym.com. Go try it out, it’s free, it’s not going to hurt anyone. It could be a great way for you to get a plan going and roll your business. So, thank you Steve for -
Steve Sue:Thank you RK. And then one footnote to add: this was our first ever podcast. And you are a freaking awesome interviewer.
RK:Thank you. Thank you very much. All right guys, we’ll talk to you again soon. We have a lot of other questions that we’re going to ask and I look forward to talking to you in the future.
[0:23:49][End of Audio]
Huge thanks to RK for helping us get into the podcasting world! It didn’t hurt a bit and we learned boat-loads. Anyone with suggestions on how to make a great BizGym podcast format, please contact us!