What Is A Post-It Business Plan? The Case For A Post-It Business Plan

The post-it business plan is a methodology that helps you focus on keeping a long-term focus on your mission and vision, while also having a short-term focus on experimentation, execution, and speed.

Let me show you how.

Are business plans useful at all in today’s business world?

In the old days, you would start to build a business by writing a business plan.

Indeed, that is a document where entrepreneurs or aspiring so, can state their assumptions about the business. They can make financial projections and show how the business will grow in the future.

When the web took over the business plan became not only a document that didn’t make sense to the new business world, where companies could finally test their assumptions quickly, and build a viable business model, before to run out of cash.

No surprise then that a topic like “business plan” is becoming less and less relevant:


The topic “Business Plan” has lost interest over time according to Google trends

The fact that a business plan was a purely intellectual exercise became even more evident when Steve Blank together with Eric Ries launched the concept of lean startup.

As Steve Blank put it, a business plan doesn’t survive the first contact with customers.

Indeed, while in the past companies would start from putting down this nice neat and seemingly perfect document. And execute it.

Today we know for a fact that most of the work of an entrepreneur is about searching the right business model, that when executed in the marketplace, it enables the business to succeed.

Thus, execution and iteration of a business model only happen when you have experimented and finally found the proper business model. Entrepreneurs can speed up this process by using one-page tools like the business model canvas, the lean canvas, the blitzscaling canvas, the FourWeekMBA canvas, and many others.

The most important thing is before moving with fast execution and iteration of a business model an entrepreneur should search for the pieces that make more sense to the kind of business she is trying to build.

For that matter, a business plan is a document which won’t be of much use. If at all, this document will make it harder for the entrepreneur to find a proper business model. That’s because the assumptions contained in the business plan won’t survive the first contact with customers.

And it is important that the entrepreneur is ready to throw away the business plan to experiment with the business model.

So why are people using business plans today? There might be still reasons for entrepreneurs to use business plans.

For instance, for an organization which is trying to build a business based on external fundings, those investors might require a document to look at. Usually, that happens in the more traditional world, of getting a loan from a bank or financing from a public institution.

Indeed, in the venture capital world, which looks at investing in startups with exponential growth potential, venture capitalist might be looking at a pitch deck, rather than a business plan.

But also in those cases venture capitalists, in the end, might rely more on their guts or how much they like the potential business model, the idea, the team or the technology, rather than basing that decision on a business plan.

That is why I’m proposing the post-it business plan approach.

What’s that?

Enter the Post-it Business Plan


The premise of the post-it business plan is straightforward.

You need to work at two levels, which are diametrically opposite.

The first level is in the very long term. That is comrpised by your mission and vision.

The other level is the very short term. Where you focus on experimentation, execution and speed.

On the back of the post-it, you will have the mission and vision. That’s because,even when you’ll be experimenting in the short term, you still need to have clear the vision and mission of your business. Indeed, it doesn’t matter how many experiments you will run in the short-term your mission and vision will work as a compass for you to keep moving in the right direction.

On the front of your post-it instead, you need to have three key objectives that you can test on a weekly basis. This short-termism will help you to experiment quickly so that you can bring your business closer to your long-term mission and vision.

When it comes to the short-term execution plan, the time frame can vary from a week to a few months. My advice is to break down the critical objectives into something smaller that can be achieved in a week.

For instance, if one of the key objectives is to build a site that has a hundred thousand visitors, before you could accomplish that you need to break it down, in a way that can be attained, tracked and experimented in a week, or a month maximum.

Therefore, you might want to have as a key objective something like “publish four articles this week” which can be accomplished with some level of effort. And on the other side have the mission and vision intact.

Thus, where the three key objectives will keep you motivated in the short term. The long-term vision and mission will keep you on the right track!

That’s the only document you need to get going once you’ve drawn the potential business models you might want to experiment with in the real world.

Related Business Concepts

Business Plan

A business plan is a document that details key operational and financial goals for a business and how they will be achieved in the future. Essentially, a business plan is an exercise in due diligence. While no business plan can accurately predict the future, they do demonstrate and give insight into the likelihood of eventual profitability. This in turn removes some of the entrepreneurial risk associated with investing large amounts of time and capital into a new venture.

Innovation Theory

The innovation loop is a methodology/framework derived from the Bell Labs, which produced innovation at scale throughout the 20th century. They learned how to leverage a hybrid innovation management model based on science, invention, engineering, and manufacturing at scale. By leveraging individual genius, creativity, and small/large groups.

Business Competition

In a business world driven by technology and digitalization, competition is much more fluid, as innovation becomes a bottom-up approach that can come from anywhere. Thus, making it much harder to define the boundaries of existing markets. Therefore, a proper business competition analysis looks at customer, technology, distribution, and financial model overlaps. While at the same time looking at future potential intersections among industries that in the short-term seem unrelated.

Business Scaling

Business scaling is the process of transformation of a business as the product is validated by wider and wider market segments. Business scaling is about creating traction for a product that fits a small market segment. As the product is validated it becomes critical to build a viable business model. And as the product is offered at wider and wider market segments, it’s important to align product, business model, and organizational design, to enable wider and wider scale.

Disruptive Innovation

Disruptive innovation as a term was first described by Clayton M. Christensen, an American academic and business consultant whom The Economist called “the most influential management thinker of his time.” Disruptive innovation describes the process by which a product or service takes hold at the bottom of a market and eventually displaces established competitors, products, firms, or alliances.

Innovation Funnel

An innovation funnel is a tool or process ensuring only the best ideas are executed. In a metaphorical sense, the funnel screens innovative ideas for viability so that only the best products, processes, or business models are launched to the market. An innovation funnel provides a framework for the screening and testing of innovative ideas for viability.

Four-Step Innovation Process

A four-step innovation process is a simple tool that businesses can use to drive consistent innovation. The four-step innovation process was created by David Weiss and Claude Legrand as a means of encouraging sustainable innovation within an organization. The process helps businesses solve complex problems with creative ideas instead of relying on low-impact, quick-fix solutions.

History of Innovation

Innovation in the modern sense is about coming up with solutions to defined or not defined problems that can create a new world. Breakthrough innovations might try to solve in a whole new way, well-defined problems. Business innovation might start by finding solutions to well-defined problems by continuously improving on them.

Read also: Business Strategy, Examples, Case Studies, And Tools

Read Next: Lean CanvasAgile Project ManagementScrumMVPVTDF.

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