Welcome to the final phase of Build Blocks for the New-Era Business. Up to this point, we have shared tools to help you PLAN out your venture, proposed a new process to TEST the demand for your venture, and now we are going to take a look at how to SPREAD an idea through the market.

+ Building Blocks for the New-Era Business

In this experimental process we call the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business, we have been looking to fundamentally redesign the way a business is created by taking advantage of the new tools emerging in the global ecosystem. We can collaborate and share basic tools to PLAN out a business, use crowdfunding platforms to TEST demand for a new business and we can use the pipelines to SPREAD the message

When we say pipelines, we are not talking about Keystone XL or Enbridge here. We are talking about the pipelines of communication, the ones that are shifting the entire media landscape and changing the way we source information. If you want to take an idea to the market, these are the pipelines that you need to know and build your communication strategy around.

Where do we look to study the best way to use the Social Media pipelines?

The social movements.

Worldwide, from Chile to Spain, Montreal to Mexico, people have taken to the streets en masse as part of the global social ( r)evolution. Whatever way you slice it, regardless of your creed or political beliefs, the social movements have become symbolic of a huge societal shift – the power shift from the few to the many.

Despite their differences, all of these movements including, Occupy, #15M, the Arab Spring, #yosoy123, etc., have one thing in common – they started with an idea amongst a few people and SPREAD to the masses. In the same way an idea for a new venture starts in the head of one person and can be pollinated through the masses.

So how do these social movements do it?

Contrary to popular belief, no social movement starts on Facebook or Twitter. The precursor is engagement, discussion and debate amongst a small group of people. That group of people then begin to educate a larger group of people, the after the idea gains traction the social-media factor comes in to play. It’s true that certain people may meet on a Facebook group or through a blog initially, but no movement starts as a Tweet or Facebook post. It requires deep dialogue, some extended validation and then a social strategy. That’s why we believe that there is a lot from the social movements that can be applied to the creation of a new business.

The objectives of the SPREAD phase are the following:

  • Education – explain about the problem, why the need for a solution exists and how your solution works
  • Engagement – engage with people in your potential target audience and discuss your product/service with them directly
  • Influence – get the people who shape perceptions to understand why your product or service is better
  • Diffusion – give people the tools and content to proliferate your message for you

The number of ways you can actually achieve this are infinite. If you have followed any of the social movements, you will have seen a number of creative tactics employed to get the messages heard. The tools that they use, however, are all pretty generic. Here are how they breakdown:

  • Blog – a blog will help you educate people and give you a place to discuss any aspects related to your venture in depth

activist example: Occupy Wall Street was started by an Adbusters blog (see post here)

  • YouTube (or Vimeo) – video gives your entire venture a personal feel and will help you build trust with your audience. To influence people and give power to an idea, they need to be able to see who you are and feel an authentic vibe

activist example: #yosoy132 blew up in Mexico thanks to their YouTube responses to media spin (read about the story of how the movement started)

  • Twitter – Twitter is big because of it gives you the ability to tap into trends and make new connections. The hashtag (# symbol) has become a cultural icon, and for good reason. Hashtags let people connect into streams of consciousness related to a specific topic, which is why a strategically crafted campaign needs to look at the possibilities enabled by Twitter. It can help you engage your audience, influence key players and scale diffusion

activist example: the #15M movement in Spain was able to coordinate and proliferate their marches all using clever hashtags (see blog post Taking your Message to Market – Lessons from #15M)

  • Facebook and Google+ – despite the fact that we are bearish on Facebook, and starting to really warm up to Google+, both need to be considered as key platforms in the social media pipelines. While engagement on Facebook is falling off significantly, the Like button and Brand pages can still help diffuse ideas and facilitate discussion. The Google+ pages for business are much cleaner and have added features to take audience engagement to a new level (ie. Hangouts), but the network is not there yet

activist example: the Arab Spring in Egypt really took off after Wael Ghonim posted some images of police brutality on Facebook

  • Guerilla campaigns – guerilla simply means bottom-up, spontaneous formations that happen in the streets. You see ‘guerilla marketing campaigns’ when someone hands you a free sample of Starburst in the street, but those lack the tact and creativity that the social movements employ. Guerilla campaigns are all about face-to-face engagement and audience participation

activist example: 350.org and other Climate Change organizations staged a ‘Connect the Dots’ event, one of which we saw at the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, to show the link between extreme weather and climate change

We are not the type of people to write a ‘5 steps to achieve …’ blog post because there isn’t a simple five-step process to just move your idea into a market. To really SPREAD an idea you need to have a grasp on the fundamentals and take advantage of the crowds to help you gain traction. If it’s a good one, something that is both timely and valuable to a broad audience, social media is the way to get it out there. After going through the PLAN and TEST phases, SPREAD helps you build momentum behind your venture.

+ Building Blocks – PLAN – the Financial Model
+ Building Blocks – PLAN – the Strategy Kit
+ Building Blocks – PLAN – the Business Model
+ Building Blocks – PLAN – the Toolkit

+ Building Blocks – TEST – demand via crowdfunding

If you are looking for help to put together a social media-driven strategy, make sure you separate the wheat from the chaff. Getting someone to get you a few Likes on Facebook or few hundred Followers on Twitter will not move the dial without the core components of a campaign to back it up. Find the people who both understand the dynamics of your market and know how to coordinate campaigns across the channels. We are big on the blog, video and face-to-face as a way to drive deeper engagement initially, and then start looking to the bigger channels after.

+ BMBreakdown: ETSY
+ Time For BMi

PLAN – the Business Model

It is time to shift the focus of Building Blocks for the New-Era Business from the PLAN phase into TEST phase. While many ideas sound absolutely fantastic on paper, knowing whether or not people want what is being created is another story completely. That’s why we will look at a new strategy for demand testing in today’s post, using crowdfunding platforms as the backbone.

+ Building Blocks for the New-Era Business

Up to this point, we have covered several aspects related to planning a business. The planning tools (links at the bottom of the post) we created have a lot of utility for people looking to create scalable ventures that require some thought to the business model, strategy and/or numbers behind the venture. Some people may simply want to launch a small-scale social enterprise, or try experimenting with a quirky idea – you don’t necessarily need a full plan in order to test demand, but we do recommend you at least open a conversation on a blog or prototype the idea (see post Prototyping an Idea – a Visual Process) to get some basic market feedback before going to TEST phase.

Crowdfunding has started to spread like wildfire around the world as people begin looking for alternative ways to fund their ventures and organizations. While crowdfunding itself refers to the process of raising small amounts of capital (via donations) from a large amount of people, there are several possible applications for crowdfunding. One such application is that of a reverse market, as Kickstarter and other similar platforms have shown.

While some sites in the world function as pure crowdfunding platforms (ie. Goteo, Catarse, etc.), where ideas are funded only if they are beneficial to society as a whole, the majority of the top crowdfunding platforms function as reverse markets. In this sense, it is possible to ask the market, do you want this?, before the product is even made. This helps solve one of the biggest problems related to the current model of capitalism – overproduction – where goods are made based on corporate forecasts and market-growth projections.

While the problem of overproduction is no doubt one that affects society on a profound level in a number of ways, there is a more acute problem that faces entrepreneurs – the problem of building something that people don’t actually want. Who wants to spend a lot of time building something that nobody actually wants?

It’s an unfortunate side affect of the top-down mentality preached by the old school. The old-school process takes an idea through a vertical decision-making tree that usually ends up either failing the entrepreneur or having them be forced out of their own company by their ‘investors.’ It breaks down like this:

  • First, you ask your friends and family for a bit of capital to start out – how much do they know about the market? Sure it’s nice that they trust you, but they fund you because they believe in you and usually have no way to validate your idea
  • Then you try and get an angel investor to back your idea. They are usually just one individual, do you really want to have the future of your venture hang on the back of one individual?
  • Next you go to VCs. They pump rocket fuel into your venture, take a third of the company and try and encourage you to grow at abnormal speeds. The next thing you know they are advising you to sell the company to Google for $100 million and you find yourself on the beach of an exotic island with a bunch of cash trying to come up with the next idea. Is this what you want?

The new-school process is horizontal, its connected with the market and it’s designed to put the power in the hands of the entrepreneur. To kickstart this process, we propose the following strategy:

  • Politely ask, via a crowdfunding campaign, if the market wants what you have to offer
  • Target your potential market, and employ strategies that focus as much attention as possible on the actual market rather than your core networks. If your core networks are part of the market, then all the better, but don’t let your friends and family obscure your view of the market. Remember, the key point is to test the demand for your idea, the funding part is secondary at this phase

The amount of money that you try and raise in a campaign will be dependent on your goals. If all you want to do is literally test an idea, run a small-scale campaign on your market for $1,000 without any promise of the actual product. If, on the other hand, you are ready to go to market and need to test market demand and raise capital at the same time, make sure you crowdfund enough to get going. We haven’t seen any live of examples of small-scale testing (please send any over if you see them), but the following campaign was good examples of full-scale campaigns on Kickstarter:

+ Coffee Joulies project – Kickstarter
+ LUMOback project – Kickstarter

The execution of the campaign is the real key. If you are trying to plan out the strategy for your campaign, make sure you check out one of our blog posts below:

+ Strategies for a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
+ Crowdfunding and the principle of Social Capital

When you are going through the process of creating a campaign, think about it in three phases:

  • Before – what are we trying to achieve here?
  • During – how are we going to execute this campaign and reach our target?
  • After – how are we going to deliver on the promises we make?

The general principle here is that you are trying to validate your idea using real market data. It is easy for entrepreneurs to hype their own idea and promise a mountain of cash based on an Excel forecast. Here’s a chance to put the forecasts to the test and get the market involved early.

Not only does this process reverse the way the product is produced, it will also change the way you launch your business. A business with validated demand, a crowd behind them and cash in the bank, has the ability to move in many different directions at the next stage. You could look for strategic capital, stay organic or pursue a number of other different paths, but the power will remain in your hands to make your next move. The process provides a new way to TEST out the vision you create in the PLAN phase on the market with very limited resources.

+ Building Blocks – PLAN – the Financial Model
+ Building Blocks – PLAN – the Strategy Kit
+ Building Blocks – PLAN – the Business Model
+ Building Blocks – PLAN – the Toolkit

+ Building Blocks – SPREAD – the Social Media pipelines

Stay tuned next week as talk about how to SPREAD the idea using the social media pipelines. And remember, this is just an experiment. We are simply proposing a new-school process to take ideas to market and redesign the way businesses are built. Give us your feedback, send questions, or leave a comment. And watch in the coming months as we start to test our own theories … stay tuned … Building Blocks for the New-Era Business rolls on.

+ BMBreakdown: ETSY
+ Time For BMi

PLAN – the Business Model

Democratization – it’s a word that underpins many of the biggest movements globally. From democratization of the media (#yosoy132) to democratization of finance (the JOBS Act and crowdfunding), the key belief is that everybody on the planet should have equal access to information, education and capital; in that vein, we have been studying and developing the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business. After releasing the three components of the PLAN phase, the business model + financial model + strategy kit, we are also releasing a Step-by-Step Toolkit to help anyone who is not familiar with the concepts of business get started.

+ Building Blocks for the New-Era Business

If this is the first post you are reading about the New-Era Business, you should know the following; the business-as-usual mentality, where profit supersedes everything else, is out and the new-era business, where people come first and profit follows, is in. The Building Blocks are an experimental initiative we created to try and develop a streamlined process for starting a business in the new ecosystem. We have realized over the years that much of what is taught in the business schools is BS and therefore we want to help redefine what’s necessary in the PLAN phase of the business.

Over the last couple of months, we have released the PLAN phase components one at a time. These tools were developed to help plan the business model, financial model and strategy for your venture. We also recognize, however, that many people may not even understand what any of these are in the first place, let alone how to use them. In that light, we created the Step-by-Step Toolkit, which is designed as a walkthrough of the planning process for beginners.

We tried to make the Toolkit conversational and intuitive, almost as if we were sitting down together and going through each piece one at a time. We also included checkpoints to help you evaluate whether or not your ideas and plans will make the cut.

As with our other initiatives, this is all about experimentation. We realize that now more than ever, people need to start taking matters into their own hands and starting their own ventures. We are simply putting a tool out there to try and help everyday people take the first steps to getting their own ideas off the ground. As part of this experiment, we want to learn what is necessary and what isn’t, so we hope the Building Blocks will expand that conversation as much as anything.

The Toolkit is a 20 page booklet filled with visuals, questions and links to relevant content – included in the Toolkit package is the financial model, business model canvas and strategy kit. To get your own copy of the Toolkit, send us an email. We will be releasing a handful for free at the beginning.

+ Building Blocks – PLAN – the Financial Model

+ Building Blocks – PLAN – the Strategy Kit

+ Building Blocks – PLAN – the Business Model

+ Building Blocks – TEST – demand via Crowdfunding

+ Building Blocks – SPREAD – the Social Media pipelines

+ Building Blocks for the New-Era Business
+ Finance 2.0 – Wall Street Meets the Web

Crowdfunding Strategy – Summary

Trends and Research – Summary

The third post about the PLAN phase of the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business revolves around strategy. In the previous posts (listed below), we took a look at tools to develop a business model and a financial model in order to help define the market and financial viability of your ventures. In this post, we will look at the basics of strategy and talk about our own Strategy Kit that we developed to facilitate strategic thinking.

+ Building Blocks for the New-Era Business

If this is the first post that you have read in regards to the new-era business, then it’s important to explain what the new-era business is all about – shaking things up. Rather than operating businesses on old-world principles that lead to the same disastrous results (on a societal level), we are focused on reinventing the way businesses are formed and building brands that matter (see post #BBTM Build Brands that Matter). The Strategy Kit is an experimental tool, created to help formulate strategies in a creative and collaborative manner.

While the business model will help you define what you want your venture to become, and the financial model will help forecast its financial viability, the strategy is the how. How do you intend to move your venture into the market? That’s the fundamental question we want to answer.

The theory that underpins our Strategy Kit is taken from the book Blue Ocean Strategy. The Blue Ocean Strategy was introduced in B-School, along with several other strategy theories. The problem with strategy theories is that like economic models, it is very difficult to prove their validity, meaning that the majority tend to fall out of favor over time (ie. Porter’s Five Forces). But the Blue Ocean Strategy, while theoretical and academic in certain ways, does take a fundamental approach to strategy that is hard to argue with – find blue oceans.

‘Blue oceans’ is a metaphor that represents uncontested market space where the competition is somewhere between minimal and non-existent. The people who developed Blue Ocean Strategy analyzed the strategies of many big companies over the course of several years and found that the most successful companies moved into uncontested ‘blue oceans’ and stayed away from the bloody and highly-competitive ‘red oceans.’

What we like about this theory is that it encourages entrepreneurs and companies to focus themselves directly on the market rather than the competition. Dictating a strategy based on the competition is a fatal practice, which is why Blue Ocean Strategy is so useful. We incorporated aspects from Blue Ocean Strategy with our own strategic principles to create the following strategy process:

1) Map your Environment

Look at your external environment and identify the most important external factors that shape it.

2) Take a Direction

Boldly move in the direction that feels right (based on a mix of factors). It’s better to put your energy into one strategic move rather than diluting yourself across many different paths.

3) Look at Scenarios

Despite your best efforts to map out the environment, take a direction and put a plan in place, there will always be unforeseen events or variables that throw the whole plan out of whack. Therefore, it is essential to conduct a scenario analysis.

Along with briefly explaining each of these principles, we also created a set of seven key questions. We developed these key questions because we think the best approach is to analyze the assumptions that underpin the strategy rather than the strategy itself. It is purely a judgment call as to whether a strategy will work or not, as one could argue that many of the best business strategies are intuitive. But someone can very quickly breakdown a strategy’s chance at effectiveness if they can take a look at the assumptions the ‘strategist’ has made.

Additionally, the key questions will also help you analyze your own strategy if you are accustomed to making your strategic decisions solo. They provide a certain level of perspective, forcing you to ask yourself questions that you might not otherwise be asking. The beauty is that if you need help with your strategy, you can easily share the answers to your questions and solicit feedback in any areas you are unsure about. We are all about collaboration : )

Overall, the Strategy Kit is an experiment. Essentially, it was created with two ideas in mind:

  • that businesses need to redefine the value curve and find uncharted waters
  • that the best way to analyze a strategy is by asking key questions

The other tools for the PLAN phase, the business model and the financial model, have been tested and are known to be effective. The business model canvas (developed by Alex Osterwalder) can be downloaded from our site (click here), while the financial model is available on a donation basis. The Strategy Kit, on the other hand, is completely new and experimental. (No longer being released)

+ Download a copy of the business model canvas (click here)

+ Time For BMi

PLAN – the Business Model

The Building Blocks for the New-Era Business rolls on. Last year in the summer we released a free copy of our beta version of the financial model – we got a few bites and got some solid feedback – overall it was well received, driving us to make it better. In this post we are going to roll out the financial model and look at how to use it as part of the planning process for the new-era business.

+ Read about the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business (click here)

The financial model has always been the most daunting part of the planning process for most people. In addition to having to create revenue and expense forecasts, you have to mess around with Excel and factor in tax and other accounting principles. That’s why we created a comprehensive financial model that has all the components – cashflow, income statement and balance sheet – which can be manipulated and updated with minimal effort.

Given the constraints of Excel, it is not quite as seamless an experience as one would ideally hope, but people who had at least amateur experience with Excel found our first model easy and intuitive to use. This year, we created another model that has another layer on top of the original model to make creating your very own financial model as easy as possible, even if you haven’t used Excel. First let’s answer the fundamental question:

Why should you create a financial model?

When you are planning a business, there is always a (usually high) degree of uncertainty as to when the cash will start to flow. For this reason, it is good to have a tool that allows you to forecast when the revenues will start to roll in and how much money you will need to spend in the process to get there. Our financial model allows you to predict and continuously update the assumptions that underpin the financial performance of your business with great flexibility.

The other reason to have a financial model is because you might need it if you want to present your business to investors or other partners. What people will want to see is that you have a good idea of how much the company will need to spend in the early phases (cash burn) in order to reach a level where cash coming in the door is greater than cash going out (cash positive).

Finally, a financial model can simply be used to play around with new ideas and test out certain business models.

How does a financial model work?

Our financial model includes the following:

  • you enter your revenue projections into the corresponding grey boxes for a three-year period

  • you enter your expense forecasts into the corresponding grey boxes for a three-year period

  • the model automatically calculates your cashflow, balance sheet and income statement based on the above variables, and includes a cashflow dashboard (pictured below)

  • when one of your assumptions regarding the revenue projections or expense forecasts changes, you simply update the variable and the model recalculates the entire forecast for you (snapshot of the income statement)

The photos in the model above are from the original financial model. While the new, simplified version of the model has all of the same components and look as the original financial model, it has one extra page (pictured below) to make it simpler to create quick forecasts.

The new model allows you to simply plug in estimated growth rates for your revenues and estimate expenses in bulk. Whereas in the original model you can modify every variable for revenues and expenses, the updated version has this simplified revenue and expense dashboard to make it really simple to create a forecast. One model is not necessarily better, there are just two key differences:

  • the original model is more customizable, but less clean and beginner friendly
  • the updated model is simple and slick, allowing you to create a good financial model in minimal time, but it has less variables and will not yield quite the same accuracy as the detailed one

The model has the basic financing, tax and SR&ED (for Canadian technology companies) capabilities built in. The tax rates can be modified to suit different countries (Canadian tax rate are used now), assuming the overall structure is the same (ex. the UK is quite similar) – if the tax structure is quite different, we would need to chat about what adjustments need to be made first. Overall, the idea is that you want to create a snapshot of your company’s future finances, one that you understand in depth and present to other people.

The financial model is directly integrated with the business model because you need to be able to establish that your business model is both viable and sustainable. If you come up with a business model that you think is brilliant, yet you are not sure if there is enough of a market to justify the expenditures, the financial model will help you determine the answer.

+ Time For BMi

PLAN – the Business Model

This is our 100th blog post : ) Check out what we were saying on day one (The Love of Lumos).

A new era of business is coming, one that is driven by collaboration, crowdfunding and the desire to kickstart the creative economy. Two weeks ago, we wrote a post about the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business, so today we are going to take a look at the first component in the PLAN process, the business model.

The business model is one of the key elements in the planning process. Without a rock-solid business model, no business (or social enterprise) can sustain itself over the long term. When you break down the PLAN into its basic components, the business model is the what and the strategy is the how. Business models have multiple components that combine to shape what the business will look like in the market – we will discuss these individual components further into the blog.

Why is it so important to PLAN your business model?

Business model innovation is the essential activity for any company that wants to succeed in the new era of business. With change occurring at such a rapid rate in markets globally, consumers around the world are beginning to rapidly redefine the value curve. Spending five hours trying to reinvent your value proposition today using the business model canvas could save you from five years of frustration by going down the wrong road.

The goal is to develop a business model that can withstand and adapt to the rapid changes that are happening in the market, as the rate of change will only accelerate more going forward.

The first key to understanding how to do this is to understand what the business model is. According to the definition from Business Model Generation, a business model is defined as:

the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers and captures value in the market

Once you understand what a business model is, you need to have the tools to experiment with your own business model. We are big fans (!) of the Business Model Generation concept and the corresponding business model canvas – we have written extensively about these tools (see post The Key Components of a Business Model) since the first book came out in 2010. Of all the tools in the market to help plan a business, the canvas has proven to be the most valuable. Additionally, there is a very strong global community (check out the Business Model HUB), so the concepts are constantly being updated and knowledge is being shared.

(click here) to see a larger version of the image or (click here) to download the canvas as a PDF.

The business model canvas developed by Osterwalder has nine key components –

You can read more about each specific component here in our previous blog post (see post The Key Components of a Business Model), or you can download a preview of the Business Model Generation book (click here) that covers each component on the canvas.

Essentially the canvas has two sides. The revenue side – which focuses on your customers and the ways you interact with them – and the costs side, which focuses on leveraging partnerships and key resources to keep costs low. At the heart of the canvas is the value proposition, which describes what the business does to justify its existence.

While we recommend getting a giant piece of paper, some markers and Post-IT notes for your canvas, you can also just scribble notes on a basic canvas. If you would like a pretty PDF version, Powerpoint version, or Google Docs version of the canvas contact us.

Once you start working on your canvas, keep in mind the goal is to open your mind and experiment. You want to explore new possibilities, consider absurd ideas and brainstorm quirky concepts. Business model planning is not about thinking outside the box, it’s about redefining what the box is. Be collaborative in your processes, solicit feedback and write outside the lines.

To make this all work, you need the following tools:

  • a sprinkle of imagination;

* a core understanding of the business model concepts:

  • a copy of the business model canvas; (click here)
  • pens or markers and Post-IT notes.

Additionally, there is an app available on the iPad for the tech-savvy crew (link here).

And that is how you can PLAN the business model. In terms of how you actually innovate the business model, that would require a whole other blog series. The key is to understand the core components and start experimenting to see what you can come up with. From there, you can start soliciting feedback and collaborating with the people who can help you make it happen.

+ Business Modelling 2.0

Keep in mind, that the business model is one of three components in the PLAN process. Additionally, we will be taking a look at the strategy you employ to make your business model work, and walk through a financial model template to evaluate the numbers behind the model. Stay tuned, as the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business roles out over the coming months.

If you are interested in preparing to raise venture capital, there are several additional considerations that you should keep in mind with the development of your business model. Check out the RoadToFunding guide by Martin Luenendork:

+ Investment Readiness Level

+ Time For BMi

The time has come to shake the deck. We need to stop wasting time trying to reinvent the old for the millionth time and bring in the new – the time has come for the new-era business. That’s why we are introducing the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business, an experimental approach for building future-focused businesses from the ground up.

What is the new-era business?

The defining feature of the new-era business is that it actually matters – to people – not just politicians or economists looking to add another sliver to GDP. The new-era business is built to solve a real problem for a substantial portion of the population, not to superficially address a cosmetic problem for people with iPhones. The new-era business does not focus on the accomplishments of the entrepreneurs based on the size of their exit, but rather on the collective impact that the business achieved for its intended market.

How is the new-era business born?

The new-era business is developed from the ground up based on substantiated market demand that proves that a real need for the product or service exists. It leverages the power of social networks and modern technology to harvest relevant information that prove that the business has both the potential to make an impact and scale. Whether the need is global or local, the new-era business is born with the ambition to become a sustainable brand that matters in the eyes of its customers for the long term.

With that in mind, we propose the following as the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business. This is of course an experiment, and it is simply designed to spark the process of creating companies that will get people excited again. We will be progressively rolling out phases of it over the summer on the blog – feedback will be incorporated, new ideas will be considered and examples will be shared.

Before we go into the PLAN components, it is important to realize that not every venture requires a PLAN, and some businesses require more planning than others. It depends on a number of variables, including the personality of the entrepreneur, the phase of the business and the type of market being entered. What we are trying to do here is put the core tools in play and develop a skeleton process to get things rolling. What we do not recommend, without hesitation, is taking an idea straight from your head to the TEST phase. At the very least, prototype your idea (see blog post Prototyping Ideas: A Visual Process (click here) and solicit some feedback.

Without further ado, here are the Building Blocks:

After spending several years in business school learning about what should be included in a business plan, then spending several more learning that what we learned in business school about a business plan was mostly incorrect, we believe that there are three core components that should be incorporated into the planning stage:

Business Model (BM) – use the Business Model Canvas developed by Alex Osterwalder to experiment with new business models for your business

+ Read the post: Building Blocks – PLAN – the Business Model

Financial Model (FM) – use the Financial Model template to develop a snapshot of your business’s financial projections

+ Read the post: Building Blocks – PLAN – the Financial Model

Strategy (ST) – use the Strategy Kit to flesh out the important details of the strategy you will employ to make your business model work in the market

+ Read the post: Building Blocks – PLAN – the Strategy Kit

A blog will be written about each component listed above over the course of the summer, and a corresponding experimental Toolkit will be released for people to test.

+ Checkout the Toolkit: Building Blocks – PLAN – the Toolkit

As a proof of concept, run a crowdfunding (CF) campaign to validate the demand for your business. The campaign can be launched at a small scale initially to simply get an idea of how strong demand is, or you can try and raise enough to launch the business and prove the concept at the same time (ie. Pebble E-paper Watch).

+ Read the post: Building Blocks – TEST – demand via Crowdfunding

In the future, when legalized in your country (likely 2014 or later in most countries), you will be able to use crowdfunding to raise equity funds (crowdinvesting) for your business. Watch the Seedrs site (click here) for examples of crowdinvesting for startups and small businesses.

Once you have the plan ready (which of course will change) and you know that the demand is there, it’s time to take advantage of the social networks (SN) to spread your idea like wildfire.

+ Read the post: Building Blocks – SPREAD – the Social Media pipelines


And those are the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business as we see them today. Comments, feedback and ideas please!

Keep your eye on the blog, as we will write a post about the Business Model (BM) Canvas, Financial Model (FM) template and Strategy (ST) kit. Additionally, we will be releasing a ‘beta’ version of a Step-by-Step Toolkit, for people who are not familiar with these concepts, at the end of the summer.

+ Welcome to Generation Collaboration
+ Finance 2.0 – London + Crowd Finance

Crowdfunding Strategy – Summary

Building Blocks – PLAN – the Business Model