Creating a Winning Business Plan
with Written Success

 

Back in 2006, Casey, a pastor of a thriving Houston church, business coach, and book publisher, was presented with an unexpected opportunity that was going to involve a few new things for him — including learning how to create a business plan.

One morning, he was out for breakfast with an old friend and mentor, who also happened to be an author. His companion was sharing his most recent experience with a large self-publishing company. The entire process had been rife with frustration, and as a result, he came up with an idea: to start his own publishing company.

The only catch?

His friend had just received a big promotion at work and knew he wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to throwing himself into his new venture. While Casey was excited about his friend’s big idea, he wasn’t exactly sure why he was sharing this information.

As Casey explains, “As we were sitting there and he was sharing this with me, I couldn’t figure out why he was telling me this. You see, I’m dyslexic and didn’t learn how to really read until I was 22 years old. I’m also a theologian, so while I do like to read some books, I’m not what you’d consider a ‘book guy.’ But then at the end of the meal, he told me the reason he wanted to share this idea was that he wanted me to have it. He’d been praying about it, and he’d decided that I was the right guy to start up this business. I told him I had no idea how to do this, but he said he chose me and wanted me to have the concept and the idea so I could run with it.”

Casey Says Yes and Lucid Publishing Is Born

Once he made up my mind that he was going to move ahead on this idea and dive into the world of entrepreneurs, Casey attempted to create a business plan.

Says Casey, “Looking back on that proposal, it was embarrassing. It was for $6000 and included monitors, computers and that sort of stuff. It was basically just a budget, and I ended up getting only $1500, which someone gifted to me.”

Despite his bumpy start, Casey used his business plan to get the business off the ground. For the publishing house’s first book, he found a college student who had written a narrative about a trip he’d taken to Thailand. Getting that first book from a written draft to a published book was more complicated than Casey ever imagined.

As Casey explains, “I thought about learning programs like Photoshop or Indesign to do the book cover but made the decision to outsource it. I started trying to think of who I knew that could do the design for me. I knew I would be paying like $200 just for the cover, and I only started with $1000, but I really needed to get this first book out there. I did the layout of the interior myself — and it was a nightmare. But I pushed through, got the book together, built a website, and we were off to the races.”

With that first book published in 2006, Lucid Books was officially in business. Later that same year, Casey’s mentor came back and told him that he wanted Casey to publish his next book. In working on that project, he realized that he needed help if Lucid Publishing was going to succeed.

As he explains, “My focus then shifted to recruiting the right people to join our team, and that was my focus for two plus years. In 2009, a friend approached me and offered to help structure the business so I could also do my ministry. He came on board, and later that year, we signed our first big offer. That led to bigger distribution deals and  because of that, we became a respected publisher.”

Cracks in the Publishing House’s Foundation

As Casey continued to build the publishing house over the next eight years, he worked hard to pivot and make changes to continue their success. Then, last year, he began to see some of the cracks in the publishing house’s foundation.

As Casey explains, “I  realized that we’d incurred quite a bit of debt at the pace we were growing. Demand and sales were increasing, but with our current debt load and the way it was structured, it was hampering growth and could have ultimately killed our company.”

With Hurricane Harvey hitting many of the publishing house authors who were based in Texas, Casey quickly realized that the time for change was now. The business needed outside funding and to either restructure the debt with a traditional bank or find investors to come in and help. Plus, they needed a way to improve the business’ cash flow.

Finding Help with Written Success

Casey knew he needed help — and fast. That’s when he found Written Success.

Says Casey, “I knew that if we were going to keep publishing and selling books, we had to deal with the money issue as soon as we discovered it. Then, a friend of mine introduced me to Ashley. I decided to work with her because she’s an extremely important aspect of many people’s teams — especially when entrepreneurs like me have a big vision and idea but need help with the rest.”

Casey was confident that the Written Success system would help him translate his vision so he could create a business plan, and he’d be able to secure the money needed to restructure and ultimately grow the business.  

“When you’re dealing with people with large amounts of money who want to invest, you have to communicate your vision and tell a whole story to help them see where you’re headed. I could paint that picture verbally, but I was desperate to have someone with experience help me tell that story in an honest and accurate way. I also needed help with communicating all the business jargon and numbers and making it look nice for when people saw it.”

Once Casey started working with Written Success, he was able to show investors what he was offering.

As Casey explains, “Getting involved with Ashley and Written Success is the smartest thing I’ve done in business because it used to be very difficult to get anyone to pay attention to what I was saying. When we started working together, I’d send Ashley a Powerpoint I’d created, and she’d reinforce that I actually had put together something of value and then give me guidance on what I should change. Together, we were able to capture the story and communicate it.”

The Future Looks Bright

Since starting to work with Ashley and Written Success, things at Lucid Publishing are brighter than ever. Thanks to his work with Written Success, Casey not only captivated the interest of several investors,  but he also has a clearer business plan strategy for future growth.

As Casey shares, “I’m opening up more distribution options and new niche imprints. I see us launching a speaker’s bureau, and we’re starting to offer online courses as well because a lot of people come to us not yet ready to make the full investment in publishing. They need some ways to write and market their book without wasting time and money. Plus, we’re considering adding music publishing and distribution with one of the potential partners we have.”

When asked if he had any final thoughts to share about working with Ashley and the Written Success program, Casey had this to say:

“With entrepreneurs like me who really need help in the moment and are in a hurry to get things done, it’s amazing to have something like Written Success to turn to. If you have a real, viable project that you’re going to be working on, do whatever it takes to get Ashley’s help to create your business plan. Since I’ve had my Written Success business plan these last couple months, I’ve been able to articulate more clearly our vision to my team, my staff, and to our authors of where we’re going. It’s kept me on track and prioritizing future investments as the money comes in.”

Ashley Cheeks

Author Ashley Cheeks

Ashley Cheeks is a Business Plan Consultant. Her core business plan writer expertise is in designing business plans for bank and investor funding. She founded Written Success after years of being a professional business plan writer as a freelance consultant, and working for companies including GE and Fluor. She lives in Houston with her husband, daughter and son.

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