June 29, 2011
Entrepreneurship has never been easier: Buy Steve Blank’s book on Customer Development; read all of Eric Ries’ posts; reduce your fundraising presentation to the Business Model Canvas; wear a hoodie and pivot like a lean ninja. Success is guaranteed.
Creating value from nothing is just as hard as it has always been. You wouldn’t get that from many of the investment pitches that I see though. Instead, I hear about “viral” marketing plans without budget (but massive predicted revenue), “lean” business models without unfair advantages (but massive predicted profit) and “Ramen” operating plans without paid employees (but cheerful ever increasing productivity). Don’t fall into this trap. Focus on real actions, not fluffy jargon. Instead of “viral marketing”, tell me that you are going to put short in-progress videos of our product on YouTube every week. That sounds less sexy but at least it gives investors something factual to evaluate and you an actual task.
Similarly, don’t spend your day doodling on the Business Model Canvas in a quest for the ultimate business strategy. Strategy is important, but it won’t come from using a(ny) tool. Recognize that these tools will at best help you to organise your thoughts. Don’t mistake them for answers to the unique questions in your venture. For that you need to go out into the world and get things done.