August 2018 > Originally posted on Medium
What is your Business Blueprint?
Thanks to the popularity of Lean Startup, the traditional big
“Business Case” documents are usually no longer required … but a
“business plan” is still paramount.
Why do you need it?
The obvious use of the business plan is to shape it into a pitch-deck
to get funded. However, the most import purpose to have a business
plan is actually for you and your team to agree on the overall vision
and strategy, as well as identify, prioritise and plan the (next) key
What’s in it?
So what do you — as entrepreneur or intrapreneur — need to put
together your business plan?
Today there is often an expectation for you to create a Business Model
Canvas/Value Proposition Canvas combo (or variations thereof e.g. Lean
Canvas). But many look at it as a chore, they find it confusing where
to start, what exactly should go in each box and more importantly, how
to use it/what to do with it. In a previous post, I shared a concept
of another variation for a canvas, i.e.
the Product Journey, but I must admit that it also still misses the mark, especially on
how to use it.
Looking through a number of canvas variations, cross-referencing with
examples of pitch-deck templates it became clear that as an
entrepreneur you need to keep your eye on 6 key areas. Hereby
presenting you with the Business Blueprint:
1. Purpose — What is it about?
The first thing you need to articulate and be crystal clear about is
your purpose, the “what is it about”. There are two main parts to
describe here; the problem space (current) and the solution space
Problem Space: Innovation often starts with an idea to solve
a pain-point. Before jumping ahead in solution-mode it is important to
really understand and describe the underlying problem and take stock
of the current work-arounds/competition. Knowing the characteristics
of those who are complaining (the loudest) about the current
workarounds is extremely valuable, because they are often great
candidates to be your early adopters.
Solution Space: Describe whatever the actual value is that
your solution creates e.g. save money/time, reduce complexity,
increase comfort, etc. Also highlight how your solution is solving the
problem and what it is that makes your solution better than the
competition, current alternatives and work arounds. Create a sense of
urgency by explaining your “why now” by sharing which technology,
economic, regulatory, behaviour, demographic … change, makes now the
perfect time for your solution.
For a platform (or indirect) business model there must be a well
thought out problem and well defined solution for both parties that
will encourage them to switch from their current alternatives. e.g.
the AirBnB platform must provide value to address problems for hosts
(I have a room/home available) as well as guests (I need a place to
Example questions for "Purpose"
From the “purpose” area above, you can extract content for your
“problem”, “competition”, “solution” and “why now” slides typically
used in a pitch-deck.
2. Goal & Revenue Model — Where are you going?
Once the purpose has been defined you need to describe a convincing
vision with an ambitious goal. Here you need to share what exactly you
will be aiming for and what goal will make this a success. In your
vision you will describe how much value (typically revenue) you aim at
capturing as well as project how many you believe can be convinced to
switch to your solution.Example questions for “Vision”
Example question for "Goal & Revenue Model"
The vision will provide info for your “market size” and target
“financials” slides in a pitch-deck.
3. Go-to-Market Strategy — How are you getting there?
Your worthwhile purpose with an exciting vision, also needs a credible
strategy outlining how you plan to get there. Working back from the
goal you can describe how you plan to progress and grow towards your
For a new value proposition — in the early stages — the focus will be
on validating your purpose assumptions to confirm whether you are
really addressing a problem worth solving and whether your solution is
a good fit.
Once you have found a problem-solution fit your focus can shift
towards validating the whether there is a market for your solution.
Transparently define the metrics you will use to measure traction.
e.g. the pirate (AARRR) metrics Acquisition, Activation, Revenue,
Retention and Referral can be used here. Based on your target growth
rate towards your goal, how many new customers need to be acquired at
each stage, from how many will we be able to capture the value they
used, how many will use the value again and how many times/how many
will churn, how many will become ambassadors etc.
Example question for "Go-to-market Strategy"
The strategy will offer insights for the “revenue model” and long term
“road map” slides in your pitch-deck.
4. Status — Where are you now?
Be very transparent when it comes to sharing where you are today
towards your goal. Share the key learnings to-date, the assumptions
that have already been validated (and how) and any other proof of
Example question for "Status"
Show “traction” as evidence to convince your audience you are on the
right track in your pitch-deck.
5. Plan — What are your next steps?
By this stage you have hopefully managed to excite everyone to believe
in your purpose, vision and strategy as well as shared the current
The “plan” part of your business plan is vital as it justifies any
funding you are asking for.
Here you will openly share what your next objectives are, which
activities your team has planned for this, and why those activities
were prioritised. Prioritise what you will validate next based on what
your current highest risk assumptions that have the potential to
render your overall business plan irrelevant (e.g. will someone rent
out their own home to strangers?). Always be very transparent on what
the expected outcome of your experiments will be and how you will
(following the 3-A of metrics: accessible, auditable and
Example question for "Plan"
Pitch deck: be very clear on your what you are doing next and why by
providing a detailed “timeline”.
6. Support — What do you need?
You have provided enough information to now ask for the support you
need to execute the planned activities. Be clear what the resources
are — whether it is money, people, time, etc. — you asking for.
Example question for "Support"
Always end with a call to action and be clear what you are asking for
whenever you pitch or provide an update.
Other than the 6 key areas above, you obviously also need a catchy
name and a high level pitch where you describe what you are about in
one simple sentence.
All this information is fundamentally very similar, irrespective
whether you are pitching to get funding for your start-up. It can also
serve when you are updating an internal innovation board on the
results of your past quarter’s activities to get buy-in on your
approach, next steps and ask for further support
(think the metered-funding Eric Ries talks about in The Startup
Nothing on the Business Plan Blueprint is a one-off exercise. Anything
can change based on the learnings and outcomes of previous activities.
You may learn something that significantly changes your solution or it
can make you adapt your strategy. It can also provide you with facts
that change (probably to make them more realistic) your long
term goal … or even forces you to be honest and suggest to kill the
The Business Plan Blueprint can be your team’s working dashboard, to
openly share where you are, what you are working on and where you are
going. Whatever your velocity of updates is, tag each version (e.g.
whatever makes naming sense to you) of your business plan so that it
becomes your journey from conceptual idea to (hopefully) a successful