I think I’m about 7 years old
at my grandparent’s farm near Ferndale, CA.
Your Knight in Shining(?) Armor
The Cavalry Has Arrived!
Burke Franklin (that’s me) is the founder & CEO of JIAN (jee’-on) Software, a successful Silicon Valley software company renowned for BizPlanBuilder, the popular software system for producing a comprehensive business plan.
I graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in business economics, plus a minor in electrical engineering. In my senior year, I started “The Auto Exchange,” a do-it-yourself used car business that I ran from my fraternity apartment. Then I got my first real job as a “field sales engineer” for Texas Instruments selling electronic components. (I actually helped electrical engineers design TI stuff into their products.) Besides working in sales and management for mostly high-tech companies, my career also includes a position as the Electronics Buyer and a copywriter for the Sharper Image Catalog.
So… What is a nice guy like me doing in a business like this?
In college, I majored in engineering and business, but I was crazy to do something real… I learned about a ‘do-it-yourself’ used car lot concept and I built and ran it from my fraternity bedroom. I convinced my grandmother to loan me $5,000. (A business plan would have been helpful.) After college, during my 20’s, I sold an early software system for analyzing real estate investments, I sold electronic components for Texas Instruments, I sold financial software for mid-sized businesses… wanting to experience business from the other side of the sales desk, I joined the Sharper Image Catalog as the electronics buyer and became one of their catalog copywriters… What a great job that was! Imagine having access to all that stuff!
Later, I also sold some really cool word-processors in Silicon Valley. After Macs and PCs became popular, I started my own business creating sales literature for tech companies.
A friend had a deal going to sell his engineering software to Apple. They wanted to see his business plan to be sure his company would stay in business to upgrade and support the system. At the time, I viewed a business plan as an elaborate brochure that sold his concept to people at all levels, and responsibilities with various perceptions, biases, and interests. (I learned that from selling word-processors.)
We got the deal.
Over the next year, people came to me with some brilliant ideas, but their plans weren’t getting funded. I helped them fill-in the missing parts to succeed. Along the way, I saw that business plans have a fundamentally universal structure. Hmmm…
I took all the content I’d developed, redacted everything proprietary, but filled in the blanks with a variety of customizable multiple-choice options, and offered it as a software template that many people could use…
This became BizPlanBuilder. And my new company took off!
We followed-up with MarketingBuilder, which picked-up where BizPlanBuilder left off, then we went even further with PRBuilder which included sample press release templates… In another direction, we added EmployeeManualBuilder and SafetyPlanBuilder full of actual policies and procedures.
Altogether, we had 10 products in about 3,500 retail stores and built a $12 million company with 30 employees…
Today, all of our products have been integrated into a streamlined online dashboard. And we’re the leader in business development software templates.
I’m still surprised at how many business owners don’t (won’t) write a business plan at all… The owner / entrepreneur had some ideas in his/her head and just went forward. If you’ve ever worked for these people, you’ve probably also experienced some of the screaming, frustration, and general chaos that goes on behind the curtain.
That’s not the way I wanted to build a business.
I discovered that writing a business plan actually enabled others in the business, not only to understand the big picture, but to be pro-active, make better decisions, and work together to forward the action in favor of the big idea.
So, what’s my philosophy behind Business Power Tools?
I thought I wanted to either get rich on something silly like a “Pet Rock” or change the world with something serious like Penicillin, but I’ve always wondered what happened to the inventions featured in Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. Perhaps the inventors and others could benefit from my business plan template. Perhaps supporting others to introduce their solutions for our world was better leveraging of my skills and a more important contribution for me to make to the world right now. More about Business Power Tools >>
Why Business Plan Builder software?
But I hated planning, I was more of hip-shooting kind of guy… then a friend of mine had a deal going with Apple Computer and they wanted to see his business plan. It had to cover all the bases—the engineers wanted to review the product section, the management people wanted to know about his managers, the finance people needed to be sure that his company was sustainable, and so on. Being a former catalog copy-writer for the Sharper Image Catalog, I figured I could help him out. From my perspective at the time, a business plan was a bit like a giant brochure. It must sell at all levels.
Long story short, he got the deal. But it wasn’t over for me… I kept meeting people who wanted me to help them with their business plans. I helped write some good business plans! Then it struck me (standing in the shower, of course), what if I took all of my materials I used to write a business plan and put them together into Word and Excel templates and offered them on a disk? I ran some classified ads… the phone rang… people loved them… I was in business! More about Biz Plan Builder business plan software >>>
Our original retail box back in the early 1990’s
Management & marketing experience spans 40 years
40 years… OMG! Nevertheless, I do have an extensive background in sales, marketing, and management and I only bring a very practical approach to everything I do. In 1995, I was elected to the White House Conference on Small Business where I met with 1,800 other entrepreneurs from across the U.S. to discuss issues every business owner faces and vote so congress could see what was important to us. I can’t tell if they did anything about it… (I very much appreciate the support of the National Association of Women Business Owners who helped elect me.)
In 1996 I was nominated for Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award. My assistant Alicia submitted me without me knowing it and I was a finalist amongst the horde. I certainly appreciate the vote of confidence!
In May 1996, and again in 1997, the Brazilian software council flew me to Belo Horizonte, Brazil to teach business planning to Brazilian entrepreneurs! Imagine that boondoggle! Also, since 2000, I have presented an ongoing series called The Thinking Behind Your Business Plan for CEO Space and other entrepreneurial organizations. You can watch it online here.
For what it’s worth, I am an instrument-rated pilot, and a second-degree black belt in TaeKwonDo, so watch out. My book, Business Black Belt draws parallels from the martial arts and teaches you about building and running a business by using the teachings from hundreds of “personal development” workshops. That means if you get knocked down 7 times, you need to get up 8, but I’ll teach you some tricks to turn the tables in your favor.
“I’m always hesitant about reading business books written by so-called consultants. Anyone can give himself the title of consultant. All they have to do is read a couple of books on the latest business trends and start using the jargon picked up from the reading. What I love about Business Black Belt is that Burke Franklin has been down the road, up and down, several times. His is a narration from the trenches of battle, not from the comfort of a battle-cruiser a few miles out at sea. He tells it to you with all the gory details that business life entails. Most of the books that are out there right now are written by infopreneurs that are trying capitalizing on our thirst for answers. Alas, most of these writers’ knowledge of business consists of cashing the checks they receive from their publishers. The wisdom contained in this book is more valuable than what you’ll learn from reading all the current business bestsellers. Buy this book. You can thank me when you’re done.”
~ Adolfo Bernal Jr. “Adolfo” (Austin, TX)