Why a Business Model Canvas may be more helpful than a Business Plan
Business Model Canvas
A while back, I got a business mentor through the SCORE.org program. He introduced me to a tool called the Business Model Canvas and I think it's brilliant. Before going to our first appointment, my concern was that he was going to give me the boilerplate advice to create a business plan and send me on my way. I wasn't interested in doing a business plan at all.
Don't get me wrong. I recognize the value of a business plan, but I don't think the "start with a business plan" model works for everyone. It certainly doesn't work for everyone at the very beginning. A business plan can end up being the term paper that never gets written, despite you wasting a lot of time on it. Any successful business is about solving a problem. But the "start with a business plan" method is not an intuitive or effective way for many people to find the path to profitably delivering their solution to their target market.
Enter the Business Model Canvas. I'd never heard of it before, but it was so intuitive, I was able to complete mine within a couple of hours. I've attempted to write a number of business plans over the years and I don't know that I've ever actually completed one, despite putting weeks into it. But I completed a Business Model Canvas within a couple of hours that yielded the following:
- What problem am I solving? What value proposition am I delivering?
- Who, specifically (demographics), needs this problem solved?
- Through what channels do I reach my target market?
- What key resources, partners, and activities are required to deliver my solution?
- What are my costs?
- What are my revenue streams?
Basically, this is the relevant, practical, actionable output of a business plan, without all that other stuff that takes forever to generate and many people just don't see the point in doing. The Business Model Canvas is easy. It just flows. It asks you questions that you already know the answers to and structures and organizes those answers in such a way that you have a clear plan that you can move forward with when you're done.
I encourage everyone to run your business ideas or side-hustle ideas through the Business Model Canvas. This is a tool that I think I'll be using for a lot of things as a quick way to assess the feasibility of an opportunity and whether I'm willing to invest the resources required to achieve the desired result. This is a great tool for determining "nah, I don't need to proceed any farther than this assessment."
Here are the Business Model Canvas resources that I found useful:
- Business Model Canvas documents
- Video on how to fill out a Business Model Canvas
- Online Business Model Canvas tool