Pitching a Business Plan

« November 2008 »

David glanced at Mark who was sitting next to the fire and opposite Ch'uya. His face displayed more anger than David had seen in a long time.

They had arrived at the house some time after the sun had set and Mark managed to convince Ch'uya that the business deal couldn't wait until the morning -- just as the poor guy was heading to bed.

Mark had, of course, introduced David to Ch'uya. He had to lay the groundwork for the business idea and David was a part of it. He had also explained his reason for the venture.

David felt strange when he was able to chime in occasionally and clarify more than Mark. There was also the problem induced by where he sat. The chair was comfortable and close enough to the fire to lull his tired body toward sleep. There was just something about the crackling flames after a long day that seemed to place the rest of the world at a distance.

The idea so far was that Ch'uya owned some land that was wooded. He cut down trees occasionally to use for firewood, but most of the trees remained untouched. Mark wanted to use them to make wagons for hauling.

His plan was a little complicated. They would make one and then show it as an example to all of the farmers and business men in the area. This, he hoped, would convince several of them to make a down payment on one for themselves. The goal would be to sell a wagon for three gold pieces, which was a fair price. They would take half the price for dog-sized models. If the people would pay half in advance, then Mark and David would have to pre-sell 25-30 of the larger wagons in order to buy SaƱi. It would be a very busy two weeks, and then they would have to actually build the merchandise for the buyers.

Even if everything went well, David knew it would be weeks or months before Mark was free. It might have been wise for them to sleep and let their minds process the idea overnight first, but they skipped that step because time was short. This was the best, and only, plan they had.

Even before Mark had finished outlining his plan, Ch'uya poked a few holes in the idea. David did not know him very well, but it looked like he was savoring the task. He pointed out that the wood needed to be aged in order to make a good wagon that would not warp. He also asked how they intended to obtain the tools and iron needed for the job.

In reply, Mark had said that he had hoped only to borrow the tools necessary as well as the trees for this from Ch'uya. He would even replant trees for the ones they cut down.

The man slowly sat back in his chair with a thoughtful look on his face. Mark had leaned forward, eager to hear his plan cleared.

The rules that Ch'uya finally laid out were non-negotiable, and it was these that had made Mark angry. He would lend them the trees, tools, iron, and even some seasoned wood for the job. In exchange they had to pre-sell 35 wagons within the two weeks. If they succeeded, Mark would go free as well. If they failed then Mark would have to pay back double for his freedom.

Mark thought he had considered everything and had planned to sell more wagons after the first two weeks in order to pay for the parts needed to build the other wagons. By performing much of the work himself -- with David's help -- he had expected to eliminate most of the initial production costs. The iron fittings for the first wagon were the hardest part, but he figured that he had a couple days to come up with a plan for them. The option presented by Ch'uya increased the stakes even beyond what he had laid on himself. For them to sell 35 wagons would require them to work almost without sleep.

When Mark saw that arguing was not going to change the terms, he finally assented to the plan. When he stood, his dejected stance caused David to smile slightly. "You look about like I feel. Tired."

"Yeah, let's get some sleep. We're going to need it."

Just before they left the room, Ch'uya called for Mark's attention one last time. "Don't worry about your regular duties tomorrow. I'll have somebody else take care of them."

Mark thanked him and the two friends left. There was a separate building where most of the hired hands slept, and for that night it included David also.

After the initial introductions Mark found a place for David to sleep and then he ate a quick dinner of whatever was left over from earlier. David went straight to bed. They would discuss the rest in the morning. For now, sleep would be sweet.

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