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On Document Types: A Sales Pitch

If you’ve been paying attention this month, you can clearly see I’m building up to something. It’s a business model, a major social change, a grand vision. In other words, it’s a daydream and a penniless non-profit.

It’s a good daydream, though, and it attracts amazing people like moths to a flame. Seriously, I’ve watched it happen time and time again. I start talking about what I want to do, and brilliant people — busy people — rush to volunteer their time and expertise to help make it a reality. It’s amazing.

The problem is, it’s still a really new idea to me, so as I get volunteers, I’m having a hard time finding ways to explain to them exactly what we need to be doing now (and, for that matter, exactly what it is I want us doing long-term). That sort of communication is critical, though.

So I made a wave, and invited several of my first volunteers to it, including Carlos and Julie Velez. I started typing up an overview of my long-term vision, and then started getting into the nitty-gritty of how we’d get there from here (“here” being, essentially, nowhere at all). The more I wrote, the more I realized how much I was asking of all these incredibly busy people, knowing I wouldn’t be able to compensate them in any way (probably for years).

So, out of a compulsive honesty, before I made them read my big long description, I wanted to make sure they knew what they were getting into. I contacted them in chat, and said, “I’ve got a detailed description ready for you to read, but basically what I would like to ask of you is ridiculously long hours and a huge investment of energy that won’t guarantee any financial reward.”

Julie responded right away. “That’s a hell of a sales pitch! I’m in.”

Building a Business Plan

I’ve come up with a better sales pitch since then, and refined the big idea to make it considerably more promising. I’ll tell you all about it later this week, but first I’ve got a Tech Writing lecture to give, and since I did such a good job explaining the purpose of document types last week, I feel compelled to give you a concrete example.

So this week I’m going to talk about a very specific (and very valuable) kind of document: the business plan. Come back tomorrow, and I’ll walk you through the research process and show you how I learned how to build a business plan. You’ll probably get some sneak peeks at the weekend’s big reveal, too.

Photo credit Julie V. Photography.

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