Thursday, April 30, 2009

Building a Business Plan, Worksheet 1

As someone who works with entrepreneurs, I'm often asked for help with business plans. Admittedly, plans take a lot of work. That's part of their value, that they require you to deal exhaustively with the concept you're attempting to bring to the market. However, many people tie themselves in knots trying to eat that elephant in one bite.

At i2E, we use a Commercialization Model that guides business plan construction in terms of the information needed by stakeholders (people with something to lose) at different stages in the Business Lifecycle. You can see the Commercialization Model here.

Entrepreneurs should understand that a business plan helps everyone investing in a project see clearly:
  • What's being done
  • Why's it being done
  • How's it being done
  • Who's doing it
  • Where are they doing it
  • What's the payoff for doing it
  • Has you ever done it before?
  • Who else is doing it?
  • Why you, and not them?
The "everyone" that needs to see this includes the entrepreneur, who could sink a large amount of time and money into a concept that might have fundamental flaws.

Therefore, I've created some short little worksheets for my entrepreneur friends. They are sparse by design, and intended to be filled out either at your computer or by hand. These questions should enable anyone to begin drafting a rough outline for a business plan pitch (our model for a pitch slide deck can be found here). The pitch can then be expanded and supported, thus providing the information for a full business plan(pro forma financials notwithstanding).

The first questions every entrepreneur must ask regarding any product or service are:
  1. What problem does your idea solve?
  2. How do you solve the problem you seek to solve?
  3. What makes your offering different or unique?
You can view these questions as a document formatted as a printable worksheet here. If you'd like some help or feedback once you've answered these questions, submit your materials to me via the email address on this page.