Canvasing

The New Year is already starting to feel like old news, eh. Let’s shake off that early temptation to push your new idea toward someday. Look, I get it. There was intoxicating enthusiasm when you first thought through everything over the holidays. As you’ve returned to routine, the idea that felt like it was the one & only thing that mattered, now seems to be falling down your priority list.

Extra Shot

This is normal, but we’re not normal!
We are the weird who make a ruckus.

After some creative wireframing, I challenge you to setup (at least) two meeting to breath life into this budding idea. First, meet with a #givefirst mentor. This should feel like a supportive space, but avoid rainbows and butterflies. Be realistic by sharing the exciting aspects of the idea, but also the challenges. As discussed in YDNTB, a fast no is much better than a long, wrong yes. That said, playing it safe is easier than activating initiative, so don’t let early doubt slow you down. Instead, welcome it. Let this energizing form of curiosity uncover new understandings. Pivots are inevitable and this exploration adds confidence as the original ideal is tweaked toward product-market fit.

After transparently talking with that trusted mentor, the next meeting is with a potential customer. This will feel too early, but it’s not. Your actually protecting your personal bandwidth by not swinging at a bad pitch too many times. Be smart to optimize these early interactions. Arrive prepared to ask good questions. Take notes and speak less so you can actively listen to how this potential early adopter is responding. Are you building a pain killer or vitamin? Remember, feedback is data and this is only one data point, but let this conversation absorb reality into the idea. Show up, stand out, follow up, stay connected by accelerating their work, and let’s keep building.

To do so, let’s continue brewing into this month’s theme of early moves. The business model canvas is a tool for crafting a story that sells. Here is a business model canvas that includes a little extra encouragement.

As we dive in, I’d like to share a suggested cadence from a friend of mine. Based in Sacramento, JDM is a fellow founder, entrepreneurial ecosystem builder, and tenacious content creator. He will be sharing a caffeinated contribution soon, but the way he moves through the business model canvas caught my attention. In short, most business models can’t be told in one story so it’s not one box at a time, but one story at a time. Instead of trying to boil the ocean, organize different stories for each customer segment. I’ve numbered each box in this downloadable business model canvas as a friendly guide.

  1. Customer Segments – Start with the details of a particular type of customer. The goal isn’t to complete the Customer Segments box. It’s starting a story to follow through the rest of the canvas. Now lean into the pain as you move from box to box and watch as your solution transforms into a story.
  2. Value Propositions – Based on this single customer, outline the value you’ll deliver.
  3. Channels – Where will your business connect with this specific customer?
  4. Customer Relationships – Who are you working with and how will collaboration feel?
  5. Revenue Streams – Based on the first four boxes, what’s the exchange the value?
  6. Key Activities – To deliver on the promise, you must execute with action(s).
  7. Key Resources – Using all seven capitals, here’s what’s needed to keep building.
  8. Key Partners – We can do more with less in the connected era. Who helps you get where?
  9. Cost Structure – The financial capital needed to go from problem to solution.

By telling the story of how you’re creating value for one customer segment, hypotheses connect through all nine boxes and are properly contextualized. Now add more stories, one at a time. To stay organized, use a clean business model canvas for each customer. With different stories told for each customer, color code each story as they are merged into one business model canvas. As everything blends together, the rainbow of color creates a roadmap to reality.