Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Kim.
Eric, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have been in and around small businesses my whole life. One of my earliest memories as a child was playing hide-and-seek in the laundry carts of my father’s dry cleaning business. As a pre-teen, I also remember “going to work” with my father on Christmas Days at his market in order to keep him company. You can say that I have lived through the joys, the successes, the failures and uncertainties of small businesses. And while I stuck with a paycheck after college and graduate school, after 14 years in the corporate world (BofA Securities, Google, Arthur Andersen), I found that I could not shake the entrepreneur in my blood.
In 2010 I founded ELK Partners, LLC as a holding company for small business professional services. My goal was to leverage my experience and expertise gained on Wall Street and Fortune 500 and bring that to Main Street to Joe or Jane Entrepreneur. PlanIt Business (“PIB”) was formed in Dallas, TX (we are now located in Frisco) with the sole purpose to create professional and credible business plans and related investment / capital raising documents and analyses for start ups. Most of our clients are either in concept phase or very early start up phase – and we’re able to help them formulate business models, strategies and long term operating plans; and of course create a very compelling and well-thought out and researched pitch to be presented to banks, SBA, angel investors and venture capital firms.
Over the past 7 years, we’ve grown up to 10 in-house and affiliated staff. We hire the best and brightest in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metro area and we write business plans day in / day out and have helped thousands of clients in our history. In a given year, PIB clients are able to raise between $15 – $25 million in capital.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wish I could say that it has been smooth sailing for PIB ever since writing our very first business plan but as we have observed, the world of small business is dynamic, fast-paced and oftentimes unpredictable. As a small business owner, you have to have the thickest of skin, flexibility to adapt to dynamically changing market conditions and of course, a good sense of humor. For me, personally my faith in Jesus Christ has been the key “normalizer” of my life both in and outside of business.
The biggest challenge we continue to face is making the right hiring decisions. We have found the Dallas / Fort Worth Metro area to be very dense with a well-qualified and highly educated labor force – this is normally a “good problem” to have but ultimately with our type of business that is highly client-facing, integrity and cultural fit is the most important quality that I look for in a candidate. Our corporate culture is very much rooted in our faith and while we do not discriminate based on religion or race or gender, we make our faith be known and our corporate mission.
PlanIt Business (“PIB”) – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
PlanIt Business (“PIB”) is a customized business plan writing service. Our clients seek highly customized, professional and credible business plans in order to submit to capital sources for funding purposes. Most of our clients are at the concept or very early start up phase of their journey and they seek bank loans or investor capital in order to complete development of their software, their mobile app, procure inventory, acquire equipment, fund development and/or general corporate purposes for business expansion.
Beyond writing business plans we also create investor pitch decks, Private Placement Memoranda (“PPMs), conduct business valuation analyses, and serve as interim / outsourced CFO. We also write operational manuals. Generally, if you need some sort of market research, financial analysis or any other business document – we can do it!
What sets us apart from the other business plan writers, ties back to the very reason I started PlanIt Business in the first place – that is, to provide highly customize, highly researched and well-thought out business plans based on our experience doing it for large corporation clients on Wall Street and Fortune 500. We found that nobody was servicing the small-to-middle sized business segment. Given that over 96% of all businesses in the United States are small businesses, we believe that we provide a critical service and fill this gap.
What sets PIB apart from other business plan writers is our people. This is a service business. We do not sell “products.” Each client engagement is unique and it requires getting to know them, understanding their vision and integrating our vast experience in similar business models and situations. Our team is comprised of MBAs from top schools, experienced c-level professionals and most importantly of entrepreneurs like our clients – we have been in their shoes; we have successfully raised capital. We understand the uncertainties with start ups and we can commiserate with you on the setbacks and celebrate with you on the successes. We have served as bankers, venture capitalists and angel investors – so we know exactly what your business plan audience expects to see in your documents. Additionally, we will go out of our way to make introductions to you as practical out of our vast network of investors, business partners, etc, as a free service to our clients.
The “business plan writer” industry is pretty fragmented with a lot of independent or freelance writers. In certain circumstances, business plans are getting outsourced to offshore resources. We do all of our work in-house of our Texas office. We do not outsource. We have been writing business plans since 1996.
I have taught workshops on various business plan writing topics to the coaches, consultants and mentors at the SBA / SBDC. Some of our competition cut corners in copy/paste, use of templates or software – while we feel that this serves a specific purpose such as for internal purposes, it does not work for sophisticated investors or bank committees – they come out too generic.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
We have been fortunate enough to garner national and international attention and publicity and validation. We have been able to work with a lot of celebrities in the worlds of business, movies / TV, music and professional sports. We love to receive and hear testimonials and reviews from our satisfied clients. One serial client (he has engaged us for 3 different business plans over the past 6 years) told us that when he submitted our work to his banker, his banker said that ours was the best business plan he has seen in his 20+ year career.
We have an A+ rating with the BBB and 5-star reviews on Google. But we are MOST proud of our “2015 Greater Dallas Business Ethics Finalist” award – this was awarded to us after a 5-month process that kicked off with our nomination by one of our former clients, a written application, interviews and a final selection committee process. It all culminated with an award ceremony attended by hundreds of civic leaders, including a keynote address by Dallas Major Mike Rawlings. This award is a true honor and humbling to us. We display the trophy proudly in our reception area.
- Address: 2591 Dallas Parkway, Suite 300, Frisco, TX 75034
- Website: www.planitbusiness.com
- Phone: 1-800-894-0828
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org