The Cavalry Has Arrived!
Your Knight in Shining Armor?
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.
(A while back, we accepted an offer from a Chinese company for the “www.jian.com” URL (just the web address, not the company!) and used the opportunity to rebrand as Business Power Tools!)
So… What’s my story and how does applying my experience do something for you?
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.
All the while I was there, I was crazy to do something real… I got the idea for a ‘do-it-yourself’ used car lot concept. (I rented a parking lot from a retailer who was closed Sundays, and rented parking spaces to people who brought their cars in for sale. I ran radio and newspaper ads. I put flyers on all cars and trucks with For Sale signs on them.
Fortunately, I was able to convince my grandmother to “loan” (give) me $5,000. I ran “The Auto Exchange” from my fraternity bedroom and suddenly, for a little while anyway, I was “big man on campus.” (I had no idea about actually planning a business.)
After college, during my 20’s, I sold an early software system for analyzing real estate investments,
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.)
Later, I sold financial management software for mid-cap companies… wanting to experience business from the other side of the sales desk, I landed a job with the Sharper Image Catalog as their electronics buyer and was later promoted to be one of their catalog copywriters.
What a great job that was! Imagine having access to all those bright, shiny objects.
Along the way, I discovered some really cool word-processors in Silicon Valley that I knew I could sell.
After Macs and PCs killed those off, I started my own business creating sales literature for tech companies.
Then a friend called…
He 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 because:
An SBA study at the time revealed that 67% of the 4 out of 5 businesses that failed,
had no business plan.
At the time, I viewed our 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.)
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 copywriter 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.
We got the deal.
But it wasn’t over for me… Over the next year, I kept meeting people who came to me with some brilliant ideas, but their plans weren’t getting funded. I helped them fill-in the missing parts to succeed. Then it struck me (standing in the shower, of course):
Hmmm… What if… 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 put them together into Word and Excel templates and offered them on diskettes that many people could access…
I ran some classified ads… the phone rang… people loved them… I was in business!
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… 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…
I brag about this to reveal that I have been down the road you’re on so you can hopefully trust that I’ve created some actually tools you can leverage to build your business.
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, dodge distractions (bright shiny objects), 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 like the 200 mpg carburetor and other inventions featured in Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. Perhaps these inventors and others could benefit from my business plan and the business development apps and templates.
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 >>
Years later, I wrote the book, “Business Black Belt” to share my business-building observations — stuff few of the consultants, MBAs and other gurus I’ve worked with along the way ever mentioned. With the line of business tools we are constantly developing and refining, you could say that our purpose is this:
“It’s crucial that your innovations succeed in our world.
This means that your business must be profitable and sustainable
while you grow personally, make a difference, and fulfill your vision.”
Building a successful business and being a mindful and responsive entrepreneur is an emotional, mental, physical and spiritual bootcamp. Yet, few things are more rewarding than succeeding with your own ideas and making a difference.
Success is hard for entrepreneurs and business owners today. Besides the economy, we face a multitude of ongoing issues… planning, raising capital, hiring, managing, compliance, marketing, PR, sales…
Our idea of making the world a better place is creating the tools you need to help you make the world a better place!
Few can keep up, let alone know what to do, how to do it, structure it, or say it… without wasting a lot of time and cash.
Nevertheless, many things in this world need to be fixed. If you have a vision and are inspired…
And you want to make your passion your livelihood, we have the software, tools, and resources to help you build a successful business around it — one that makes a profit as well as a difference.
When you have a business issue, but don’t know how to handle it or can’t pay someone to do it for you, here’s an on-demand subscription to a secure online toolbox full of useful documents, financial models, and know-how that you can easily use to solve your probems.
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)