Start-up Smart to make money – not to be just another pretty Entrepreneur

A clever Agile Professional recently asked me to review their Business Model Canvas for his, and a few friends new start-up. It was well filled in, looked like a good structural business model with lots for the starter upperers to do. Partnerships thought out, value propositions cleverly jotted down, and suppliers penciled in. In-fact it was a smart good looking very busy business according to the canvas.

Just one missing thing – they are a start-up, and no where on the canvas did it show WHY they were going to make money…. Don’t be fulled people, a good business structure is useless if people don’t want your products! That team structure or lean sales cycles is absolutely just pretty wallpaper and well oiled people if no-one is interested in buying what you are selling.

So a good bucket of cold water is sometimes needed for entrepreneurs when they are looking to turn the visions into real dollars.

  1. Do a start-up business plan
  2. Prioritise the Business Model Canvas components according to;
    1. Your critical go to market elements (oh no, if we don’t do this we won’t survive the first year)
    2. Your incubator elements (ok, our product is proven to be desirable so will invest a little)
    3. Your proven business success model (future state of desirable beings)
    4. The above prioritisation / reality task will feed into your start-up business plan
    5. Do a market appreciation to identify likely demand of your product;
      1. Where it is underserved
      2. Where it is overserved
      3. Where the problem you are solving sits within that landscape
      4. Then ask yourself

i.      are we solving a problem the market actually needs?

ii.      What is our solution to that problem in the market

  1. Then go back and re-write your Start-up business plan into slide: ‘Underlying Magic’ (because you now know your differentiator in the market) and update your business model to make that magic happen
  2. Then get back to me


Start-up Business Plan – yes if you can summarise into the below you know your business

  1. Problem – what problem are you solving?
  2. Solution – what’s the solution to the problem you’ve identified?
  3. Business Model – primary info here is – (manufacture, retailer, classified, subscription, service)
  4. Underlying magic – why are you so bloody special? What is your market differentiator?
  5. Product – what is it, how much is it, why will I buy it?
  6. Marketing – where, when, how…
  7. Sales – point of sale, cycles
  8. Competition – primary, etc…
  9. Team – who is going to bring this magic to life?
  10. Projections & Milestones
    1. financial projections based on the above product, marketing conversions, # sales, considering a coherence factor
    2. be careful with this one – you don’t necessarily want to hypothesis and share too much details so good to structure it in bi-annuall milestones, with critical factors & variable projections
    3. the essence is to show that it’s worth doing
  11. Summary – call to action – just  inspire me….

Inspire me! Yep it’s an important part of the pitch – not just to yourself, to everyone you are going to want to pitch-into your business to make it succeed. In fact – especially inspire yourself because it does take effort to start-up a successful business and to pull in a regular income

What is Lean Business

The Agile Company - Lean Business, Production Innovation, Scrum DeliveryLean business is an applied philosophy made most famous by Toyota’s Production Systems; also known as Just In Time Delivery. The essence of the methodology is to understand and practice how a business can prosper with the least amount of effort for the most effective results.

Funnily enough for business managers the path taken to profiteering isn’t always the least resistant nor the least in length. A good example is the MBA – Masters of Business Administration. Many supposed prestigious business administrators have earned their stripes by doing years of study but does that make them most profitable? Or does an MBA make a great leader? Not necessarily – it makes you a great business administrator. And yet I bet that 80% of their profit came from 20% of their knowledge!! That’s a confident bet and i’ll back it with introducing the Pareto Principle – more commonly known as the 80-20 rule. Whereby 80% of your profits come from 20% of your customers etc. etc.

The importance in the example is not knowing a statistic Principle, it’s knowing that the best thing you can you do for your business is who are the most important customers and what is the most relevant actions I can take.

Let me say that another way. Being lean is about;

  • eliminating waste – after a while businesses hoard leftovers, ‘just in case’, misdirections – let go
  • be real about situations – data is apolitical and besides isn’t it time to cut the ego comforting
  • focus on what is relevant – is this marketing targeting the perfect customer or are we firing blind
  • always look for efficiency & streamline systems – check Ikea or BMW factories, they are absolutely beautiful processes and environments

Besides practicing ‘smart business’ not ‘traditional business’ on the personal and human side you deserve to save time in your life by asking yourself “is this the best thing I can be doing for myself today?”

Start thinking Lean in your strategies, your positioning and your delivery and subsequent agile practices such a product innovation and scrum will be adopted in an evolutionary manner with less resistance than in lethargic administrative organisations.

What’s the point, What’s the Action, What’s the Feedback


Old Spice New Marketing

Fast Company have interviewed the team behind the fantastic Old Spice campaign – this is brilliant, and definitely going down as one of my favourite ever.

The legendary revival of the Old Spice brand and products through the Isaiah Mustafa you tube videos would have to be one of the best this side of the turn of the century.

Enjoy the lesson in creative profiteering!