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Last Update: Thursday October 1, 2020

Key Idea: Put Plans in Writing

Harry Rosenthal was hired to start a business from scratch so he started by putting a plan in writing.

Key Question:


Measure against your plan.  We hear this over and over and we read about it over and over but the truth is: very few small business owners put anything in writing.

Why does Harry give this advice?

Because he envisioned that the two companies he has been involved with would be big, not small. This meant these businesses would raise money and hire talent. This meant Harry was not about just Harry. He was always about building something bigger than himself. With that goal, a written plan is needed. Bankers, investors and even new hires need to understand where the company is going and a verbal description just doesn't cut it.

Harry and his partners wrote a business plan for their first catalog and they grew it quickly into a multi-million dollar operation. When Robert Redford came to Harry, Redford had already done a small catalog and mailed it to former guests of the lodge.

Redford wanted to bring in a person who would grow the catalog to something substantial which is the only reason Harry was interested in being involved.

Think about it

Are your plans in writing? If not, why not?

Clip from: Sundance Catalog

Meet Harry Rosenthal (above) and Brent Beck

Provo Canyon and Salt Lake City, Utah: In this episode of the show, we go into a pristine part of the Rocky Mountains, a place Robert Redford loved and wanted to preserve. To sustain that dream and help pay for it all, he turned to Brent Beck and Harry Rosenthal to implement an idea he had for a catalog business. Brent knew the products. Harry knew direct mail. But, unlike most of us, these three had a fast start for this business -- they were leveraging the Robert Redford brand.

Business is not easy for any of us. When Redford applied for his initial loan from a bank, he was rejected just like the rest of us.  He turned to investors, bought the land  to preserve it from housing developers, and began thinking of how to turn it into a business. That was in the late '60's.

Even celebrities were once "less than famous" and had to crawl, scrap,  risk... take a flying leap, just like the rest of us.

Go to all the key ideas and video of this episode...

Sundance Catalog

Jessica Basin, Sr. Marketing Manager, Robert Redford, founder

3865 West 2400 South
Salt Lake City (and Provo), UT 84120

Visit our web site:

Office: 801-975-5238

Business Classification:
Catalog, direct mail

Year Founded: 1989

Put Plans in Writing

HARRY: The first thing to think about when you're starting up a business is, who else is doing it and what can I learn from them? If you're thinking of starting up anything from a corner drugstore to a software company, somebody else has tried it at least in some way.

Maybe not exactly the idea that you have, but in some way. So the first piece of advice I would give somebody is, OK, think about all the things that are similar. Think about all the people out there that are doing the things that are similar to what you're doing and find out all you can about them. Find out how they make their money, what works and what doesn't work. If you're thinking of starting a weekly newspaper, there are other weekly newspapers out. How do they do? Where do they make their money? Step number one, learn about the business--learn about the target market, learn about the competition, learn about the business. Step number two, get a really rigorous business plan together.

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