It’s well documented that I’m not a big fan of business plans. Mainly because we live in a world of flux. But if you must use one – which I’ll call a 1 page mud map – then here’s a template. I’ve used this and I’d recommend it for ‘real entrepreneurs’ – that is non VC seeking bootstrappers.
What is it?
Describe your business or service in a single sentence. If you can’t do this, you don’t know what you’re doing.
Who is it for?
The audience who need or want this thing you’re about to create. Define them in whatever terms you please, demographically, socially, behaviourally, geographically. Just be succinct and tight in your clustering.
Why do they need it?
How is it better than the current substitute options?
How will they find us?
Where will we gain distribution? Maybe we’ll leverage a strong retail chain. A singular high traffic location. If web based strong SEO / brand awareness will be required. Maybe we already have an audience who we’ll bring a product to. This should be the most detailed part of the plan. It should include brand awareness activities and promotions. It still should only be a round 1 paragraph long.
Cost to build Version 1.0
Just estimate it – then double your estimate. Now this is the bare bones version, the absolute minimum required for launch. Outsource every element of production were possible, unless you are the major factor of production. Keep the cost low. It enhances speed, and reduces fear of failure and inertia.
There is no such thing as ‘Free’ – just a delayed revenue model. Ideas include: Sell item for price, Percentage of sales, memberships, premiums, selling advertising among others. Your plan is not finished unless you can answer this in a way your mum can understand.
These steps are related to launching the product. We stop typing and start prototyping. Here’s where we have 3-5 bullet points on how to get to version 1.0 The quickest possible route to being live in market. The steps to when you can out there and start selling & promoting.
That’s it. In fact you final plan should be as short as that we see above. Print it, put it up in your office and get to work.
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I stumbled upon this Single Minded Hero in Dubai. In fact, my Dubai host drove out of her way to take me here. The Sugar Daddy’s ‘Cup Cake’ Bakery. And they make and sell, yep – just cup cakes. Here’s a bit of a photo essay I took.
Also Notice the word ‘make’. Selling just ain’t enough these days. We want to deal with the expter, the person who knows what they are doing, the person who cares about what they are doing and deliver it to us themselves. We like to deal with the craftperson direct.
No doubt we are living in the age of the micro niche. There’s also no doubt that simplicity in Ideas and theatre at transaction is very refreshing and worth investigating.
How micro is the focus of your startup?
Apple: A crispy, crunchy yet sweet fruit, which can be eaten as is, with the peel still on the fruit. Can’t be broken into segments by hand – you need a knife to do this. Can even be used in cooking, on salads and also even great for making pie. Gives the teeth a little clean at the same time and freshens the breath while providing many valuable and healthy nutrients. Very difficult to make juice by hand with, but easy to pick the good from the bad as it’s bruises show clearly on the skin.
Orange: Needs to be peeled to be eaten, but can also be broken into nice little segments so you can share with a friend. No knife required. Not as crunchy as the apple, but juicier and more thirst quenching. Provides it’s own unique set of healthy nutrients. Easy to make fruit juice from by hand. Not so good for making pie with. Hides it’s quality under the skin and could be a bad watery orange, and you just won’t know until you eat it.
These are some of the clear difference in the two fruits above. I’m sure you can add more.
But none of us would want a combined Apple and Orange into one type of fruit. An ‘Appage’ or an ‘Orpple’ anyone?
We wouldn’t want this because we understand the unique benefits of each, and they both have their value as part of our diet. In fact we feel like, and need both apples and oranges at different times. To add the benefits of one of these fruits to the other fruit, would by definition diminish the original benefits. So why is it that we are constantly told to work on our weaknesses as if they are the holy grail of success in life? As entrepreneurs we are far better off focusing on our strengths the same way fruit does.
Should we try and improve? No doubt. But to obsess over a weakness is to ignore your given talents. What they don’t tell you is that anyone who has ever achieved anything, did it via leveraging strengths. And it isn’t without irony that the apple and the orange happen to go very well together.
Startup blog says: Outsource weaknesses, focus on strengths.