This is a post in a series of four detailing how you can start a business during a recession (find them all eventually under the startup innovation tag). I think it is a commonly held view that we are about to enter into or are already in a recession. For whatever reason you are thinking about starting a business at this time, I am helping a startup on a similar path and thought I would share what I am thinking about to help them (more on my mentoring here). The focus in this series is the really early stages prior to launch and the emphasis is on how to do things on the cheap ;)
First off just to say that the topic of this post, business planning, is not necessarily something you can do on the cheap. Nor should you. If there is any one activity that you should spend money on, it should be this one. That’s because this is probably the most important one. It sets the tone for all your other activities and is the one that sets you up for success or failure. Having said that, you can get away with some free tools which I will cover. But the real trick in this area, is the framework, method and thinking you use – not so much tools as with the other topics, as you will see.
Business Model Canvas
A simple framework for defining your business, no need for lengthy business plans no one reads and besides, brevity forces focus.
Useful to also visualize and communicate a simple story of your business model to founders, employees and investors alike.
Use the canvas to explore new business models whether you are a start-up or an existing business. Some elements/tools require payments.
Jobs to be Done
JTBD is a framework to guide your perspective and innovate through a different lens. Especially if you need to transform and disrupt (product, company, industry – select as needed), this is for you. It requires you to replace a solution lens with a problem lens. It contrasts seeing the world of innovation through the lens of what the company is doing (a product perspective). It advocates seeing the world of innovation through the lens of what the customer is trying to get done (a problem perspective).
Lean startup is a methodology for developing businesses and products that aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed business model is viable; this is achieved by adopting a combination of business-hypothesis-driven experimentation, iterative product releases, and validated learning. Lean startup emphasizes customer feedback over intuition and flexibility over planning. This methodology enables recovery from failures more often than traditional ways of product development.
Microsoft’s Whiteboard is a digital application that functions like a traditional whiteboard, but is hosted virtually. Digital whiteboards can integrate with other video conferencing and screen sharing platforms to allow for collaboration even when you are not physically in the same room – crucial for remote teams. It has many templates to choose from and allows whiteboards to be saved in shareable files for easy access in the future. It is these templates that provide an easy way to guide your thinking but of course you can bring in any methodology you want to the tool. It’s free for students and educators or you get it as part of your M365 license (work or personal).