While I worked to articulate the business plan of our new startup in March, I had an early evening snack with my good friend, Nicola Tyler. We went to Licorish Bistro at Nicolway. They make a mean cappo and present it in real style.
Nicola is an ace strategist, one of the finest minds I know. It was really interesting to discover that her strength finder chart doesn’t feature strategy at all, but a powerful combination of other talents – one in particular, the most rare of all, at number one.
We talked a bit about what I was doing that’s new, and before you could say “strategy”, she had a notebook out and was generously sharing advice. It is remarkable that Nicola can capture the essence of business flow with her sketches. A series of simple icons, funnels, arrows and lists later and we started to color code opportunities and risks.
I was reminded how powerful drawing your plans could be. Sketches and diagrams help us distance emotion and see plans at a very high level, broken down to simplicity. Suddenly, without the clutter of words or complex explanations, the problem areas were easy to identify.
Although I was paying lots of attention to refining the package and the unique value our innovative product offers, it was soon clear that I had not thought nearly enough about the customers! Let’s face it; unless you are going to have people knocking down the door to buy your product or service, there really is no business model at all.
When I reflect on the lesser successful businesses I’ve had, I often blamed elements such as marketing or timing for the failure. In truth, those elements are manifestations of poorly identified markets.
We spent a fantastic hour or two laughing hysterically, (as always), and talking about other crazy business ideas. I always love time spent with Nicola and appreciate her friendship immensely. On the way out, we browsed a bookstore. Tyler pointed out a cool read, “Burn the Business Plan” by Carl Schramm, which turned out to have really great information for startups. Happy reading!