Traditional Business Plans Are Dead: Here’s What Savvy Startups Are Doing Instead

Business Plan

Freelance Business Writer & Columnist,...

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July 26, 2016

Businesses are ever evolving, and so are the ways business owners plan for success. Traditional business plans focus on planning everything out to the last detail, sometimes to the detriment of the executive team. The problem with this is that far too many business owners spend an inordinate amount of time creating their plan versus actually taking action on it. An even more alarming percentage of business owners never stick to this plan they spend so much time creating.

“Business plans are these nice security blankets where dreams go to live. They find a comfy place to nestle in and there they stay until that glorious, turbulent day that you decide to actually give it a go,” said Avni Patel Thompson in an article on GeekWire.

Fortunately, many of today’s entrepreneurs and startup founders are focusing on a more simplistic and nimble approach to business planning. Today’s savvy business owners know that investors and potential partners have increasingly short attention spans and pitching a 50 page business plan is out of the question. Thanks to visual presentations and condensed versions of the traditional business plan such as The Business Model Canvas and the Lean Model Canvas, business planning no longer has to cut into valuable work time.


The Business Model Canvas

What is the business model canvas? To sum it up, it’s a more condensed and concise form of business plan, that allows businesses and organizations to conduct strategic conversations about new business ideas or existing ones. The business model canvas is typically used in a visual chart type format that focuses on nine building blocks that are most important to a business.

The nine areas that the business model canvas focuses on are; key partners, key activities, key resources, value propositions, customer relationships, channels, customer segments, cost structure, and revenue streams. Each time a business introduces a new concept or idea, or when an entrepreneur wants to launch an entirely new business altogether, they fill out the business model canvas, including all nine boxes to create a strategic plan for launching and testing it.

The business model canvas is used by both existing businesses and new businesses. Consultants, advisors and entrepreneurs also frequently use this business planning model, instead of wasting valuable time on a traditional business plan.


The Lean Model Canvas

The Lean Model Canvas was developed as an offshoot of The Business Model Canvas and is geared primarily towards entrepreneurs and startups. Most of the business owners who opt to use this business planning method are those who don’t have an existing customer base or products that have yet been tested.

This model also has nine key areas to be considered; problem, solution, key metrics, unique value proposition, unfair advantage, channels, customer segments, cost structure and revenue streams. The Lean Model Canvas is also a popular business planning method used by many startup accelerators. You can build your own lean model canvas online using a handy tool, and go back and make changes as necessary.


Instead of Business Planning, Do These Things Instead

What else are successful startups doing instead of pounding out business plans? For one thing, they’re taking action above and beyond just writing ideas down on paper.

  • Building test products. Entrepreneurs and startups who dream of launching a new product might spend time planning their launch. Meanwhile, successful startups who make their dreams of launching a new product a reality are busy actually building a test product.
  • Networking and building relationships with influencers. Making it in business requires connections. Even if you plan on funding your startup yourself, getting your product or service into the right hands, and assembling the right team is often the result of networking. Rather than waste another minute on inaction, the smartest business owners are out meeting people and building the connections that will help them on the road to success.
  • Mastering the pitch. How often will you show people your full business plan? Rarely. How often will you pitch your business to investors, peers, potential partners? A lot more often. Guy Kawasaki said, “Most people spend eighty percent of their effort on crafting a one million cell Excel spreadsheet that no one believes…A good business plan is an elaboration of a good pitch.” Spend time mastering your pitch, or at least your elevator pitch, so you can spark people’s interest when they ask what you’re working on.


In Conclusion

Failure to plan is planning to fail, right? Right, but there’s a big difference between planning and overplanning. Having a plan, conducting your research and developing a general strategy on how you’ll run your business or startup is Business 101.

Beyond that, focusing too much on your business plan can cause you to delay action and subsequently lose out on revenue in your business. Besides, we live in an instant gratification society these days. How many people want to spend the time reviewing your 50 page business plan? Precisely zero. Business plans are dead, at least to a certain degree.

Byline: Blair Nicole is a Media Relations and Startup guru by profession and a writer by choice. She’s the CEO and Founder of Media Moguls PR; not your grandpa’s PR company. Blair is also a digital nomad, philanthropist and writer for a handful of high tier business outlets.


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