So you’ve made the big jump. You’ve left the conventional business world behind and you’re starting a business of the new future. Maybe you just launched your town’s first rickshaw taxi. Maybe you sell vegetable seedlings at farmers market or you’re pioneering urban goat cheese production. Perhaps it’s a social enterprise or a nonprofit. At any rate, you’re still going to need a few of the tools that conventional businesses use, like business plans and accounting systems.
May I introduce you to The Right-Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee… I stumbled upon this innovative and delightful book in my public library system. Within the Transition world we use many different types of meeting styles designed to get the creative juices flowing, to channel our thoughts and energies into different, not-so-conventional avenues. The Right-Brain Business Plan is a tool that deserves to be right in there.
Imagine a business plan crafted in collage. Or decoupage. Imagine a business plan laid out within a full-color drawing of a landscape. The Right-Brain Business Plan guides you to do the necessary thinking and planning so that your business gets off to a great, solid start:
Who is your customer base and what do they need? What is your business environment – barriers, competitors, and opportunities? What are you really good at that you should do more of? What isn’t really working in your business that you’d better stop? Who are your best assets – the people around you?
The book includes many photos of highly creative and artistic plans. One is a wristband. Another dangles from a mobile. The book is perhaps intended for a small home-crafts business, but its whole approach is to give you permission for freeform expression – even in the traditionally staid world of business and finance. A type of expression that is SORELY needed, to further the emergence of the new economy!
We are using The Right-Brain Business Plan as we develop the mission and vision for (the new official tax-exempt-corporation version of) the Environmental Change-Makers. Although ECM began gathering in 2005, up till now we’ve never had a Board – which means several minds need to be aligned behind written plans. In 7 years of successful Change-Making we’ve never before had a checking account – which means some degree of planning so that it doesn’t run dry.
Let’s talk budgets and accounting. Ugh – dirty words amid such promised creativity! No, not necessarily. The Right-Brain Business Plan coaches you to create a budget with post-it notes stuck on colored posterboard. (ok, ok, I admit you do record it later on spreadsheets. But you get the thoughts going with stickers and fun.)
Sick of Quicken/Quickbooks and its branding and ties into Big Bank corporate America? Why not try an open-source accounting package? GnuCash is a solid little program downloadable for free. It is a full double-entry accounting system that produces all the traditional and necessary reports you need for IRS, bankers, and board members (like balance sheet, income statement, budget comparison, etc.). And for international readers of this post, it copes with multiple currencies.
While some might label GnuCash as a bit “bare bones,” I beg to differ. I was sick of the excessive “features” of Quicken/Quckbooks, all the bells and whistles I didn’t need and would never use but still had to stumble around to get the basic job done. I found GnuCash a welcome, distraction-free, and efficient relief.
GnuCash is perfect for startups. We are using GnuCash for our nonprofit. I figure it will serve us well for several years. I did have to do some customizations to adapt it to nonprofit accounting, but that wasn’t hard at all.
Even as we step into a radically altered future, some conventional tasks are unavoidable. But even so, there’s no reason that our Transition enterprises need to be pigeon-holed into conventional forms of getting those tasks accomplished!
Want more new-future tools that smash old conventional forms? Read …
Joanne Poyourow directs the Environmental Change-Makers. She is widely regarded as the “initiator” who brought the ideas of the international Transition movement to Los Angeles and helped form the Transition Los Angeles city hub. She is a Certified Public Accountant by training.