How does a business measure success? Gina Harman (CEO of Accion, The U.S. Network) and Paul Quintero (CEO of Accion East) discuss the importance of developing a plan.
Gina Harman: I think one of the things that struck me is, for lots of reasons, when people say how do you know – how do you measure success? We talk about the number of loans we've made. In recent years we've started to really measure our impact in terms of the quality of the jobs that get created or the number of jobs and the change in a family's income. But early on, I think, for all of us it has been a process of valuing those conversations that lets us and the business owner know they're not ready to take capital. But – that it's wonderful that when we talk about entrepreneurship in the country we talk about passion and determination and I think we would add to that a plan, and knowing where you are in that plan. And that is really helpful to someone when they're making the decision do I want to take on debt or don't I? Do I want to have an investor? Do I want to lean on my family? Am I going to absorb all of my savings? In some parts of the country, unlike New York, I'm going to go put my house up as collateral. But I think it's always about that balance between having a dream, being passionate, being driven, and having a plan. And I think for Accion the having the plan part is a key, key element of what we do.
Paul Quintero: And I think when people hear plans they often think business plan.
Gina Harman: Right.
Paul Quintero: Is it fair to say, Gina, that this is not what you put on paper but rather what you can articulate clearly to someone, a third party or outside party, are you the loan consultant and how all this works and not just them but the myriad of the process, but if you could talk about the congruent or the kind of plans that we're talking about here?
Gina Harman: No, I think we've seen that we – a compelling one-page business plan that talks about what the product is, how it's going to be distributed, what resources they have, what's missing, what are the revenue outcomes – you can do all that on a single page. It's typically those 400-page ones that are so full of convincing you that something's going to happen that you end up being concerned. Really? Mean, it's like a 5-year projection that goes from zero to a million dollars in month three? Those are the ones you worry about. But it's the thought behind it. You know, my dad used to say I write to think. And that's why a single page business plan to me always feels like I k now what I need to know, I know where I want to go. I know what's missing for me to get there and very often what's missing is a partner like Accion, right, that's going to provide a small amount of capital and that coaching and that encouragement that, yep, that's the resource that's missing. You get that, build that deck on your restaurant, increase the number of customers and plates you turn in an evening, that's the stuff that makes it click and a loan consultant knows they've got a great partner and that, that's a loan that's going to really change the world for that business owner.