Julia is planning to open a socially-conscious coffee shop in her city. She has big heart to use her business to impact her community and the world for good. She started making lists of of all the things she needs to do to get started. She thought her lists would give her more clarity in how to move forward, but as they keep growing, she’s finding it hard to figure out what to do and how to spend her time and money in the best ways. There are so many unknowns at this stage of the process that she has no idea how to move forward. She thinks she needs a business plan. We disagree.
We do think that she needs to do something to gain clarity and come up with action steps toward achieving her goal, but she doesn’t need a business plan. Let’s take a look into why a business plan is actually a roadblock in moving forward. No worries, we’ll also introduce you to what to do instead. Hint: The solution is cheaper, quicker, and more effective.
Roadblock: Starting With a Business Plan
A traditional business plan usually takes a few months to make, is long (think a binder FULL of paper), and becomes outdated within the first few months of its implementation. Why? Because a business plan is formed based on untested assumptions about how something will be rather than on how things actually are once you implement them.
Solution: Business Model Canvas
Our favorite solution is the Business Model Canvas—a flexible framework that helps guide you based on how things actually are. This allows you to make necessary shifts as you go, rather than throw the whole plan out the window and start from scratch.
A Business Model Canvas consists of one sheet of paper and a whole bunch of sticky notes. With this method, you brainstorm ideas for what to offer your customers. You choose to move forward on certain ones and evaluate them as you go. This allows you to test the elements of your idea in small chunks and to change them as necessary. You operate based on what is actually happening. This leads you to implement your idea by developing an MVP (AKA a Minimum Viable Product, Program, or Service) rather than feeling the pressure to build out an entire organization all at once.
Things always look differently on paper than they do in real-life. Since you’re operating in real-life, so should your “plan”.
The Business Model Canvas is a fantastic tool for when you are just starting out or for when you’d like diversify or add to what you already do by creating another product, program, or service to what you are already doing.
If you’d like help forming a Business Model Canvas, we’d love to guide you in the process. Check out our coaching page for upcoming workshops and groups or to schedule an individual session.