Creating a Pre Business Plan is the first step to start the process of validating your idea.
Why create a Pre Business Plan?
Putting your idea to words can help you flush it out before you put a lot of effort into it.
Note that the pre business plan is not a business plan, it is merely an exercise to help you determine if your idea is ready to develop into a business plan.
Angelo’s Pre Business Plan instructions
The goal is to keep things simple.
1. Create a 1 page “pre business plan” document to describe your business with the following 4 sections:
- Describe the service you want to provide.
- What pains does the service solve? Limit to 3.
- Who is the ideal customer? Only put the essential attributes this customer needs, we will create a full persona later.
- Who are your biggest competitors? List exactly 3, or if no competitors, explain how a customer achieves a comparable service.
DO NOT let this document turn into multiple pages. Less is more in this case, if you can fit everything in only a few lines, then do it!
2. Create a 1 page “keywords” document to organize keywords. Organize into 3 sections:
- Industry keywords
- Customer keywords.
- Keywords for each competitor
3. Review your pre-plan document. The exercise of creating the keywords should have helped you identify keywords you may want to include in your service description or for what pains your service solves. More importantly, you will want to identify keywords found in industry or customer sections that are not found in your competitors. These keywords are your opportunities. You will use them to identify your service for a market niche as well as use them for marketing and SEO purposes.
4. Slightly polish your Pre Business Plan. Clean up the document to a level where you are comfortable sharing it with trusted circles and so you can read from it quickly.
5. Go over the Pre Business Plan with family, friends and colleagues. Remember, these are your biggest fans, they will love the idea even if it is a bad one. Remember to take notes and factor feedback into additional changes. The process of discussing the idea multiple times in itself will help you take notes on changes you may want to make, additional keywords to add, and further identify if the business idea should move forward or not.
Pre Business Plan Tips
Don’t over think it! Only enter information that is essential to the product or service itself. Logos, colors, marketing plan, etc.. are not to be solved in this pre plan.
Don’t worry about how the product or service will be built, how you will create the company, where funding will come from, or where it will be located. Focus solely on the product or service as if it would magically exist.
Timebox it! Give yourself 15 minutes to write the first version of the pre business plan. Then 15 minutes to gather keywords. Walk away for an hour or even a couple days then come back and review the keywords with the pre business plan and revise for 15 minutes. In less than 1 hour you should have something you can talk about.
Don’t like the idea once you put it on paper? That’s fine, file it away or save it into a folder of “Parking lot ideas”. Do not throw away, burn, or destroy your idea – what may be a bad idea today could be revisited years later and be your greatest innovation!
Example Pre Business Plan: Cloud Entrepreneur Podcast
First draft of the Pre Business Plan document for this podcast looked something like this:
Pre Business Plan: Podcast to help others start a business Description: A podcast to help entrepreneurs with resources to start and run an online business. Pains solved: Resources to save time, advice to avoid costly mistakes Ideal customer: Someone starting an online business, a software developer perhaps? Competitors: 1 - How I Built This with Guy Raz, 2 - StartUp (gimlet media), 3 - This Week in Startups
Keywords document was an exercise of where my mind was at, thinking about my expertise in software development and creating online software services in the past:
Industry keywords: entrepreneur, startup, bootstrap, online, software, website, cloud, software as a service, SaaS, AWS marketplace, Azure Marketplace, Google Cloud Marketplace Customer keywords: software developer, code, scrum, jira, project management, bootstrap, reactJS, Python Competitor 1 keywords: innovators, entrepreneurs, idealists, stories, build Competitor 2 keywords: startup, entrepreneur, business Competitor 3 keywords: startup, tech, markets, media, crypto, business
Once I identified that my key customer (audience) is a software developer, I recognized a niche, focusing on the type of business a software developer may start today (not just an online business, but specifically a software as a service). The final version of the Pre business Plan became:
Pre Business Plan: Podcast to help software developers start a business Description: A podcast to help entrepreneurs with resources to start and run a software as a service business. Pains solved: Resources to save time, advice to avoid costly mistakes Ideal customer: a software developer starting an online business Competitors: 1 - How I Built This with Guy Raz, 2 - StartUp (gimlet media), 3 - This Week in Startups
I then pitched the idea to some family, friends and colleagues. As expected no one mentioned that it was a bad idea. I did however get awesome feedback, notes that went into the final business plan for the podcast and further help validate the idea.
Stay tuned for future episodes as we dig into creating a Business Plan Canvas and a Product Vision Boa
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