About Melanie Rae

About the Founder | Melanie Rae

A business plan is just writing out what you are going to do with your money (and someone else’s) to make more money. Unfortunately, I did not do that BEFORE leaving my corporate job. It was on my agenda to get to but by the time I did, I was already too deep in debt to launch my business on a direct path. After years of being a floundering entrepreneur, I gained the insight and shortcuts that are the foundation of the GUIDED Business Plan™ series of business planning books. Each edition guides new and seasoned entrepreneurs through a series of questions to make them think about what they want waiting for them at their next milestone.

The GUIDED approach is like having a tour guide on an urban vacation or a park ranger on a hike. If you are exploring a new area (launching or growing a business), a personal guide can be the difference between arriving at a dead-end with depleted resources and the euphoric feeling of climbing to a mountain peak. Avoid having to circle back to correct missteps by outlining your business growth goals with a strategic plan. I took the one of the most indirect paths to sustainable business ownership. It is only because of unrelenting determination that I am still on the course to share an easier way with you.

Here is more about my story:

I have experienced the consequences of handing in the resignation letter without a business plan. When I thought about leaving my job as a software trainer, I attended a few community Start Your Business-type workshops where I left with several multi-colored photocopied handouts. I checked out business how-to books from the library but honestly they made it seemed like I needed to write a long thesis paper. If I had attended just one workshop like the 3-hour GUIDED Business Plan™ class, I would have answered the who, what, where, when and how of my business idea. I probably would have deleted--make that postpone--that resignation letter.

The first nine months after my departure were cool. I went to the Dominican Republic for language immersion. I came back in need of a temp job (money had run out) but luck was on my side and I found one quickly. I was able to visit China twice (for free) as a staff member with a semi-pro basketball team. John Hancock Financial Services became a client when I designed a Microsoft Access® database for one of the departments. But that was 2005 and the luck of living on a whim began running out.

Instead of building a business, I was just self-employed looking for projects. A few years earlier I wrote a business plan for a pioneer in the WNBA who was launching an urban clothing line. So writing became one of my services. I had taught hundreds of Microsoft Office® and other software classes so training was something else I could charge for. I would land a project, do my best, and then when it ended, spend weeks if not months looking for the next one. The story of many freelancers. I really did want a business that was more than selling my time.

In late 2008, one of my money-making ideas was to launch an online course on how to structure a business plan. I had moved to Los Angeles from Boston in 1998 and an online business would allow me to continue to shuffle between the two cities to spend time with family on both coasts. This online class was the start of GUIDED Business Plan™. It was a 6-week pilot where the participants returned each week for the presentation but they were not completing the exercises. Granted, I had created the worksheets just-in-time for the session, but still, it was good content. After the pilot I said I was going to revise the handouts with a consistent look and flow. Around March 2009 I printed a bound version of a draft and one day was at a public place editing it. A stranger looked over my shoulder and said “what book are you reading?” That statement launched my career as an author.

It also started my six year (and counting) run as a fixture at cafes around Los Angeles and Cambridge, Massachusetts writing content. There is something about the atmosphere of music and hot chocolate that serve as a muse. I sketched out ideas for ways to explain business concepts on napkins, receipts, scrap paper whenever inspiration hit. I formatted and tested the activities so a busy entrepreneur could learn how to operate a business as they hunt for sales to expand their business. I built my company in relative isolation which has made the journey that much longer and treacherous. I am now an advocate for “planning with peers” because doing your work in a small classroom of other first-time business owners, military veterans, millennials, baby boomers or other affinity group will help you get to your goals faster. There are business development centers and entrepreneur programs across the United States that are waiting for your call to provide you with free or low-cost guidance.

Is the GUIDED Business Plan™ one of the top 10 books every small business owner should read? It will definitely help them understand what they need to take their business to the next level. My interview style has already inspired thousands of new and existing business owners to “plan their work, and work their plan.” I ask the questions to help you save money and time and best of all, to enjoy the entrepreneur journey.

I invite you to follow my journey as I build a team to grow the GUIDED Business Plan™ brand internationally. I will continue to share what I have learned through the books, online posts and our company e-newsletter. I want to hear your story as well. Please connect via LinkedIn or our other social links.

Lastly, become a dream fulfilled.

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