At Palo Alto Software, we’re used to talking with entrepreneurs about their businesses. Most are enthusiastic about what they do, but you can hear it in their voices when they truly love it. Carol Graham, a relatively new user of Business Plan Pro, is one of those people. As founder of Bulldog Communications, LLC, in Tallahassee, Florida, Carol has forged a career based on this passion for her work, and we’re happy to spotlight her experiences here.
Give us a quick snapshot of what your business is all about.
Bulldog Communication is a communication consulting firm. Our slogan is “Innovative Solutions to Launching Ideas.” The type of communication services we provide does not focus on mass media or technology. We focus instead on internal and external business and personal communication strategies that are essential to successful and thriving business cultures.
Our corporate culture is simple: Do What You Love. Anything less makes for a “venture” instead of an “adventure.” At Bulldog we are committed to only accepting projects that excite and stimulate our team of experts.
Bulldog Communication was named for the tenacity associated with the logo and is comprised of three major program areas—Judson, Legacy and J.A.N.E.
First is our Judson program. Judson programming is aimed towards assisting businesses in achieving their goals through communication excellence, including full communications audits, communication seminars, part of a full array of services to assist in the launch of a not-for-profit organization or small business.
Next is our Legacy services, which focus on the needs of nonprofit organizations and short term “crisis” projects, to assist organizations who are in immediate danger of losing their status or funding.
And finally we have our J.A.N.E. program, which stands for “Just Actions, New Expectations,” the philanthropic program of Bulldog Communication which provides pro bono assistance.
What are the most important lessons you learned during your business planning process?
Although I began as an experienced grant writer with a PhD in Communication, I found quickly that there was much to the planning process that I had not considered. My writing skills were an asset, but I still greatly benefited from the step-by-step process that Business Plan Pro applied to my planning. I too often jump from point A to point Z without clearly articulating to my audience how I made the leap. Business Plan Pro helped me to bridge that communication gap.
Did you write your business plan for funding or investment purposes?
I did not write my plan for funding, because I already knew how to write grant proposals. I was looking for something different. I wanted to articulate my business dreams and goals so that I could clearly identify the steps needed to achieve my goals. While grant writing is a wonderful skill, it is rare to find a grant that will allow you the academic and ethical freedoms that your own dreams can conjure!
As your business continues to grow, do you find yourself going back into the plan to update and adjust?
My business plan is a continual work in progress. The planning software allows me to analyze my progress and current status, and then adjust as needed. My weakest area was cash forecasting and accounting. Left to my own devices, I will market my services and in short time, find myself unable to take on the projects I love because I have become involved in the wrong projects for the sake of profit.
Business Plan Pro helps me to prioritize my projects, recruit the appropriate associates, and decline projects that are not a good fit for Bulldog.
What, in your opinion, is the most exciting part of being an entrepreneur? What are the biggest challenges?
The most exciting part of entrepreneurship for me is simply “doing what I love.” If I don’t love a project, I don’t take it on. Having said that, however, it may be that I have an associate with great passion for that same project, and if that is a good fit, then it is appropriate and exciting for Bulldog to take on the project.
The biggest challenges, ironically enough, are in pacing ourselves. This is a most exciting undertaking. It is not a “get rich quick scheme” (those only make you poorer faster in my humble opinion). Fortunately, Business Plan Pro provided the tools I needed to launch my business in a strategic and well-thought-out manner. I had 4 four projects before I launched a website or produced a brochure. That is heady stuff; it is important to proceed carefully, making absolutely sure that you can deliver a product that greatly benefits your client, and at the same time also leaves you with a great sense of satisfaction and desire to do another just like it!
Any final thoughts? Do you have a piece of advice for someone who might just be starting out in their own business or planning process?
Owning your own business is simply not for everyone. Take a serious personal inventory and make sure this is your passion and pleasure. If you do not love what you are doing, you will not continue to do it, or at least not well. Take the time you need to write a full business plan. It might impress others, but much more importantly it will help you analyze your readiness to take off on this adventure.
Note: Interested in Business Plan Pro? Since this article was published, we’ve created LivePlan—our cloud-based business planning and business management tool.