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