Posts Tagged ‘Customer Driven Development’

Investors typically don't read them. Founders never refer to them. Startups don't follow them…so why do people still think you need to write the 30+ page narrative plan?

We've blogged many times about the fact that there's no question a business plan is a necessity and that the real question is "Who is the audience and what do they want to know?". But recently we had an experience where the approach may have saved a startup.

This is what happened…one of the companies we're coaching recently had a major, if not a company closing experience. The company had scheduled a seminar for their customers, which was a milestone for them and extremely important for the company. But 10 days before the event not one person had signed up, so when we met for our coaching session the meeting's tone was one of should we bother continuing, perhaps it's time to close this clambake?

I asked what had been done to promote the event and I reviewed some of the marketing copy that had been used which seemed ok. But I proposed we compare it to The Story, Customer Segment and Unique Value Proposition cells in their Bizignite plan to make sure the marketing copy correctly represented the company's business plan.

BINGO! We immediately saw that the marketing copy did not reflect the plan at all! It was targeting the wrong audience, contained the wrong message and omitted the benefits! In just seconds their Bizignite plan had shown the team what the problem was!

Now that's what a business plan should do!! 

One could argue that your 30+ page plan could do the same thing, but lets be realistic here. First, where is the latest version of the plan located? Can it be accessed in a few seconds and can we all view the same information at the same time? Maybe it's a shared document somewhere, but my experience is that after a few weeks the team forgets where this document is. Second, how long would it take to review the 30 pages before you find what you're looking for. Again, my experience is the team doesn't want to return to the document to scan it. They typically believe it was something they should have for the investor and don't see it as a useful tool to keep them on track.

The project is now back on track and that team and I are very grateful to KENOVA to building Bizignite.

After asking for The Story to explain what the world looks like before the product / service exists and then what the world looks like after, Bizignite asks "What problem(s) does your idea solve?". It seems like a simple enough question, especially if a 30+ page narrative style business plan has been written, or the entrepreneur is looking for funding, but getting a clear concise response is rare. Usually we get a 10 minute explanation of the solution. Knowing what problem the idea solves is the nucleus of the startup business, if a problem isn't being solved there probably isn't a business.

This topic reminds me of the famous quote credited to Henry Ford "If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse." Whether he said this or not, it gets to the heart of why it's so important to understand the customer's problem. In this case people wanted to get from A to B quicker, so Henry Ford, knowing this, came up with a solution to achieve this for as many people as possible.

By understanding the problem he knew what to build and how to sell it, i.e., communicate it in such a way that people recognized the problem and wanted to buy the solution. For example, "Our vehicles can get you from A to B 4 times faster than a horse." Now he didn’t say this, but you get the idea.


Truly understanding the problem your target customer has IS the key to open the door to a viable sustainable business.


Start your business right and create your one page business plan! And make it easy on yourself and your team with Bizignite.