At 8:00 sharp on Monday morning, the Center’s phone begins to ring, signaling the beginning of another busy week at the SBDC. As you sip your coffee, you overhear the administrative assistant beginning to have a hard time accommodating the caller. It sounds as if the caller is refusing to listen to your administrative assistant’s explanations. Since there is not any other Business Consultants in yet who can take the ‘problem caller’ off the administrative assistant’s hands, you put your coffee down and signal to her to transfer the call to you.
The Client is already angry because the administrative assistant asked him what kind of help he needed instead of putting him through to you right away. He claims the president of the host institution is his best friend, so even though you doubt it, you decide to handle him with care.
His name is John Smith and he claims to have invented a device that will conserve the energy required to run various kinds of machinery and wants to meet with you right away. He knows he can sell it to the government and to Japan and Germany. When he went to see his banker she made him very angry because she told him the bank required a business plan. Now he wants to talk to you about this “business plan thing.” Because of his apparent tendency to anger easily, you set an appointment for tomorrow.
When Mr. Smith comes in for his appointment you ask for more information about his invention you find you are having a hard time understanding his ideas as he seems to be talking in circles and does not explain himself well. However, you soon become impressed with the product. While you are a generalist and do not often work with inventors, you feel that the product has real potential, seems it could be easily marketed, and can probably be patented.
You explain the need for a business plan. Unfortunately, when you begin to explain how to write the plan, it becomes apparent that Mr. Smith is losing interest. He says that he is too busy, he is not good at writing, and he does not explain things well on paper. He states that since you know so much about these things, it would be easier for everyone if you wrote it. You explain that as the business owner, it is very important that he be the author of the plan. He then gives you a wink and says that he is willing to pay quite well for you to write it for him.