Qebot, a business management platform that consolidates the digital tools entrepreneurs require in one place, was founded with the use of a fluid, ever-changing business plan. Matthew White, Qebot's CEO, said whether it's sales, support or website, the original idea was to unify it all under one umbrella and present it in a user-friendly manner to the entrepreneur. That vision has largely stayed the same, but the route to get there has twisted and turned as White and his team learned the ins and outs of the business throughout the past three years. The tweaks to his original vision have paid off, helping White to build a profitable company and a useful tool for small business owners. When he sat down with Business News Daily to go Behind the Business Plan, White said Qebot was planning to expand its services, going out for a round of financing in order to add a human resources component and social media management.
Business News Daily: In a nutshell, what service does your business provide?
Matthew White: Qebot is a business management platform that consolidates the marketing and operations tools small business owners need to manage and grow their organization.
BND: How long have you been in business?
White: Three years.
BND: Did you start with a formal business plan? If not, how did you lay the groundwork for your business?
White: When we first started, we put together what we call a living business plan. It's less of a formalized plan about how we will build our company, and more of a living, growing document of our goals, direction and plans. Of course, we have long-term goals for the organization, but focusing on what we can accomplish and what our goals are from quarter to quarter has helped us keep focus on pushing out a quality product and charge forward on what matters most. So in short, yes, we have a business plan, but it's not what some may consider standard.
BND: How did you finance your endeavors, both initially and as your business grew?
White: Qebot has been bootstrapped ... from the beginning. It has been important that we built our product and shot for profitability as quickly as possible, so that we could hold off on raising outside capital until it was on our terms. We have built our business on the revenue built in the business, and we're currently looking to raise a round of funding to expand our sales and marketing operations.
BND:How much did you invest personally?
White: Initial capital in was approximately $50,000. Plus a whole lot of sweat and blood.
BND: Is your business today what you originally envisioned at the outset, or has it changed significantly over time?
White: The idea for what the business would become has actually come to fruition since the company's inception. But from start until today, the business has evolved in a very major way. We knew we would become a fully consolidated business management platform, but it has taken us some time and resources to get there. We started as a CMS and online marketing provider. Today we offer a suite of marketing technologies, and within the next quarter, we will be adding a suite of operations and administrative tools to the platform.
We've also evolved from at first being a pure-platform player, with all of the tools being bundled together, to being a marketplace where business owners can shop, discover, buy and manage the tools they need to run their business.
BND:What are some lessons you've learned? Is there anything you would've done differently?
White: What a question. I believe as an entrepreneur, you need to learn something new about you and your business every day. If you're not learning, you're moving backwards. In retrospect, there is a list of things as long as my arm that I would do differently if I could do it all again. But it's a learning process, and every mistake we've made has made us smarter, stronger and better.
BND: What were the most important factors that contributed to your success?
White: I'd probably have to say diligence. When you're a year into the business, and nothing has gone the way it was originally planned, it can take the wind out of your sails quite a bit. But each day, coming in and doing your best to learn, evolve and grow, is what it has taken for us to go from not knowing if we would be able to pay our bills the next month to building a growing, prosperous business.
BND: What are the next steps you want to take as a business owner? How do you see yourself achieving those goals?
White: The next steps for Qebot will be in expansion. We've built the business to where I think we can get it [to] ourselves, and the next step is to raise capital so that we can invest in marketing and sales to increase our visibility. We are also very excited about the upcoming release of our operations suite that will allow business owners and operators to manage their entire business through the Qebot platform, from their website and social to payroll and HR.
BND: What is your best advice to someone with a great business idea who is ready to give it a shot?
White: Number one, make sure you've planned your funds for double what you initially think you will need to live [on] while you build your business. Everything costs more than you estimate, and takes longer than you expect.
Number two, diligence is key. This will be the most difficult, exhausting, stressful and rewarding thing you will ever do, but you have to be willing to put your all into it. The rejections will come often — very often. But the wins are beyond any rush you'll ever have. So just keep going, keep pushing, and drive yourself to success.