Workshop review: how to write a kick-arse business plan with Croydon Tech City

By - Wednesday 20th May, 2015

Has Mark Aarons got what it takes to make it as a start-up in Croydon?

You have an idea, product or service you wish to deliver, but you need a viable strategy to achieve your business goals. At some stage you have to get your hands dirty – even in the accurate-algorithm laden, modernist, empirically factual world that is all things tech.

Your endeavour requires planning – business planning. (Disclaimer: no brain cells were harmed during the course of this workshop). In an ever-burgeoning list of events supporting its growing south London tech cluster, Croydon Tech City ran a recent seminar via the expertise of one of their associated partners: Bryden Johnson, (a local accountancy firm): a forthright and practical talk explaining how to compile a business plan.

Writing a business plan can seem both a chore and a mystery

Business planning is an understandably key facet of supporting a sustainable enterprise. Yet to many it is an arduous, mysterious and time-consuming chore and hence a barrier. Information on how to successfully complete this process is therefore a saleable commodity in and of itself. So it was unsurprising that this free event, held on Tuesday 24th March at Matthew’s Yard, was well-attended. Approximately twenty-five people came, with a fairly even split along gender lines, (slightly in favour of the men). Similarly, the cultural mix on display was entirely representative of what you would typically find in central Croydon. In addition, a broad cross-section of age groups were represented. But why is this important?

For a neo-luddite whose computer programming ‘career’ ended with the ZX81 and a flashing green neon message where I would type “go to …” and the response would invariably be ‘CRASH’, my perceptions of what constituted a tech event were perhaps a little vague. So the diversity of the crowd in attendance was both enlightening and impressive, speaking volumes about the appeal of the event and the inclusive environment created by Croydon Tech City.

Tech City is vibrant – it demands to be take seriously

A lively question and answer session kicked off proceedings to establish the concerns, perceptions and queries of the audience. This discourse partially shaped the initial delivery of the seminar. One of the particularly successful elements of the talk was its interactivity and the fact that it embraced the skills and experience of the audience, as much as those of the experts. In fact, audience members were encouraged to answer each others’ questions on occasion – with clarifying affirmations from Bryden Johnson staff. The modules covered were delivered in a relaxed and friendly manner which added to the supportive atmosphere, thus encouraging polite debate.

Copious notes were taken as we were guided through a meticulous journey in the life of a start-up. Important questions were introduced, requiring a degree of self-analysis for the business owner. These entrepreneurs were first encouraged to accurately define exactly what the intent of their business was – a more taxing task than it would seem. Directions were given on considering methods of fund-raising engagement, incremental planning and annual forecasts, taxation, staffing and administrative needs amongst other relevant topics. The session was thorough and informative and gave tangible ‘how to’ examples. The PowerPoint slides used to assist in the delivery of the seminar were helpfully offered to the audience on request as reference material.

In short, this was an excellent and professionally delivered seminar. For the blurry-eyed philistines slowly waking up to the mere possibility of a Croydon Tech City it was further evidence, if ever it were needed, that this is a vibrant movement gaining increasingly positive momentum, which demands to be taken seriously.

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Mark Aarons

Mark Aarons

Mark Aarons is a Business Connector who was seconded to Business in the Community for the purpose of creating opportunities for the community of Croydon in the arenas of employment, education and enterprise, whilst further developing the borough's community cohesion. Since this role came to an end, he's remained active in Croydon and can't get enough of the place.

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  • Charles Barber

    Hi Mark – nice article!
    Liz directed me to this, as I’ve just signed up for another workshop organized by Tech city on how to write A Business Plan. Can I ask if you’ve now started your business and if you have a website?