Nicholas Coriano is in the business of helping entrepreneurs create business plans. For Coriano, it is a career that took root during his formative years.
“When I was 14 years old, my father bought me a book on how to write business plans,” recalled the 35-year-old Coriano from the Bridgeport office of his company Cervitude Inc. And while that sort of book might not seem like the typical gift for a young teenage boy, Coriano always had an appetite for the corporate world: he was involved in the business club and stock trading club at Notre Dame High School in Fairfield, took part in the entrepreneur club at Housatonic Community College, scored a private wealth management internship at Merrill Lynch’s Westport office, and graduated from UConn with a bachelor of science in finance.
Coriano attended Chicago’s John Marshall Law School, but during his studies he came upon something that shifted him away from a legal career. “In my last year of law school, I saw a business consultant who wanted to charge a startup $10,000 for a business plan,” he said. “I said to myself, ‘That’s a lot of money,’ and I thought there might be a market for me to come in and play with.”
While still in law school, Coriano began promoting himself on Craigslist as a business plan creator. “My first client was a furniture company out of Chicago,” he continued. “I started with one client and then I went to two, then I went to three.”
Today, Coriano manages Cervitude with six partners based across the U.S. and in India and China. In addition to business plan creation, the company provides consulting services for investor relations, e-commerce and social media marketing, and intellectual property. Using a slogan “from the napkin to the NASDAQ,” Coriano is eager to assist aspiring entrepreneurs tiptoe into their dreams and established businesses score greater market share.
“I have clients on all continents that have people,” he said. “I’ve worked with established restaurants to help them open up their second restaurants, franchises that want to expand, public companies that want to expand.”
Yet the business plan creation aspect of his operations remains the most satisfying part of his work. “I love being around entrepreneurs,” he admitted. “Every day, I get to speak to a new entrepreneur.”
According to Coriano, creating a business plan is not as difficult as it might seem. “It starts with a cover page, table of contents, executive summary and company description,” he explained. “I do a SWOT analysis after that – SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – and go into market research and industry analysis. From there, we have a management and organizational plan, marketing plan, financial projection and the conclusion.”
Coriano identified the market research and industry analysis as the most crucial elements in determining a plan’s viability, and he noted those are the areas where many entrepreneurs trip up. “Many of them don’t have the time and the resources to get it done,” he added. “They start, but don’t know where to find the market research. And having the financials makes it easier to do projections.”
Keeping in mind the aforementioned consultant with the excessive fees, Coriano said he strived keep his fee structure low. “The business planning services varies from $350 to $2,000,” he said. “Generally, you don’t need more than $1,000 for a business plan.”
Interestingly, despite seven years in business, he still puts advertisements on Craigslist for prospective clients. “Some people are a little suspicious when they call me, but I keep my references on my website,” he said, adding that his outreach also includes Google and Facebook advertising and networking on entrepreneur websites.
Coriano pointed out that one of the challenges of living in Fairfield County – the high cost of living – is inspiring more people to become entrepreneurial and start small side businesses to generate extra income. And Coriano is no stranger to maintaining different endeavors. In addition to Cervitude, he runs several operations under the Hômescape LLC umbrella, including the numismatics e-commerce site NickyNice.com and the real estate investment entity Hômeskape. Circling back to his teenage inspiration, Coriano authored the 2017 book “Rules for Entrepreneurship” with the goal of inspiring people who are serious about achieving business success.
“My future goals are to help a billion people become millionaires,” he said. “And on top of that, help a few thousand millionaires become billionaires and a few hundred billionaires become trillionaires.”
However, there was one truly unique would-be entrepreneur that Coriano wished he could have helped. “My funniest prospective call was a client who wanted to drop off sheep to yards so they would eat the grass, instead of having people cut their own grass. He never called me back,” he said, with a laugh.