Much Ado About Lean Canvas

> Business Plan Process: as Crucial as the Result <

Attention grabbing: that’s the point. When authors attempt to pen a bestseller, they often aim to introduce fresh ideas, a new spin, or a different solution to a common problem. The glitch that unsuspecting buyers don’t realize: an idea recently crafted to become popularized (like Lean Canvas) may, in fact, not actually be the right solution.

Books are sold, so the idea gains traction. Yet, in the end, the book buyers – and in this case, businesses – fail as a result of the ill advice they paid to access.

Over the past year or two, our firm has seen an increase in inquiries about a Lean Canvas approach…in lieu of creating a complete, comprehensive Business Plan. The public has been coached to embrace the false idea that: (1) both are equally effective, (2) a Lean Canvas is flexible while a Business Plan is set in stone, and (3) a Lean Canvas provides a reliable shortcut to efficient growth.

None of these purported theories can actually ring true in practical application. So, misguided bootstrapping businesses and their owners are falling victim to some very unwise, very dangerous misdirection: while those proposing it are profiting from the newer spin.

The pivotal point here is: the merits and advantages gained through constructing a Business Plan can even surpass the value of the final product and roadmap itself. Proof is in the process, and the devil is indeed in the details.

Problematic details cannot come to light, enabling essential gap closure, when attempting to hopscotch past a time-proven and diligent process. The process is what provides and opportunity to see and improve the strategy.

In fairness, those whom we have seen promoting the Lean Canvas approach earned some success in prior ventures. Naturally, this is the source of their credibility.

This is also the reason they were able to build new ventures on the foundation of essentially an outline… instead of taking a deeper examination of influencing factors, timing, market positioning, and financials: they were replicated what they had done before and felt they already knew the way.

They had walked down the same road, and intended to follow that direction again. They were not, in fact, building from scratch like their audience of new business owners.

The fatal flaw: promotion of Lean Canvas as a time-saving solution is like taking a grade school ball player and tossing them into the Majors, NBA, or NFL. How long is that likely to last? What impact from injuries should they expect to sustain? Are they even likely to survive the first minutes of the first game? Who would EVER put them in?

As businesses owners, we put ourselves in the game. We take calculated risks, and look for trusted resources to offer guidance.

So, this remote Lean Canvas “coach” with no investment in an independent player’s success = an enormous and untrustworthy disconnect. Yet, promotional campaigns support it because there are books and events and other trainings to sell. People inadvertently have attached credibility, due to mere publicity, where it does not belong.

Plus, unlike a paid role in professional sports, business owners are risking hard-earned, or borrowed, finances in addition to their personal wellbeing. Statistics prove that 9 out of 10 businesses already fail. There is no reason to tip the scales even further against potential success.

Here is the truth: failing to properly plan is responsible for the demise of most businesses that never reach their 5-year mark. Understand where you need to invest.

Arm your business to succeed. Smart bootstrapping owners and executive teams realize that a solid plan will not only keep them in the game, it will also save them substantial time and money along the way.

Need help with strategic planning? Understand the actual roots of proposed advice before aligning your time, budget, and future accordingly.

Avoid becoming a compound victim of not knowing what you don’t know. Enable your venture to thrive, rather than struggling to even survive.

 

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STRATEGY Global Business Development

PLAN | PROMOTE | PROFIT ©

→ Top 1% Transformational Consulting, 2001 – 2016

→ Clients in more than a dozen countries worldwide

15 years of results for emerging & mid-sized ventures

Business Plans to Brand Identity (including Website Front-End), Marketing Strategy to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch → gain gap-closing, results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, global, MBA-level insights for funded Startups to Fortune 500.

Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

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You Can’t Hack Fundamentals…

Analytics Aren’t Everything

“Growth is about doing business fundamentals well, not finding one sneaky lever for exponential growth.”

– Andy Johns (Facebook, Twitter, Quora, Wealthfront)


Everywhere we turn, it’s: ‘hack this, analyze that’. Yes, automation can offer tremendous advantages. Analytics, like accurate Financials, can reveal important pieces of the puzzle.

But effort and outcome must collaborate, like any effective team. Quantitative must learn to play well with Qualitative, or company operations will suffer the consequences.

Everyone wants the shortcut. This is human nature. Instant gratification became a cultural norm long ago.

Truth is: no growth can be sustainably hacked without a solid foundation for a market-worthy product or service. Bedrock, upon which we build, must be established first. The pendulum must swing back to the middle, or gaps in awareness necessary for growth and business nurturing will undermine even a seemingly steady enterprise.

This is not a new epidemic. It has been incubating for decades, since the term performance ‘metrics’ first started gaining traction.

Our gaping blind spot here is akin to ignoring the necessity for EQ (emotional intelligence) in sales team members, assuming standardized testing can assess all potential factors related to future success, and leaping to the conclusion that computers can replace people because they can be programmed to replicate certain tasks.

Logic fails – as do results – when we eliminate crucial components. The machine needs all necessary parts in order to function properly.

This is precisely the point: Strategy (big picture) and Tactics (task-orientation) are 2 different animals. When they collaborate effectively, great results can emerge. When we forget which one leads, we might as well be steering a Flintstones car: we have dismissed the essential engine.

Astonishing, groundbreaking, landmark growth requires evaluation and understanding of the Qualitative & Quantitative together. Run the analytics; but, we must be sure to monitor with human eyes: (1) what we’re measuring, (2) how we see and measure it, and (3) why.

Find a balance. Use reason. Employ experience and seasoned expertise.

If inspiration, awareness, and imagination are seeds of the most remarkable innovations, we are wise to water and fertilize the blossoming greenery with these as well. We must use each of the best tools available, and imagine we can get the right solution by relying solely on one.

 

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STRATEGY Global Business Development

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→ Top 1% Transformational Consulting: 2001 – 2017

From Business Plans to Brand Identity (including website front-end), Marketing Strategy to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch → gain gap-closing & results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, global, MBA-level insights for funded Startups to Fortune 500.

Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

→ Clients in 18 market-leading countries worldwide.

→ Over 16 years of contributing internationally to client success!

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>> Marketing & Sales Logic <<

GOALS: Identity + Reach > Traction ^ Conversion

(more than 900 reads @ plottio.com/post/StrategyGBD)

Designing and implementing effective positioning, tools, systems, and processes creates a solid foundation for effective growth. Time invested in planning always reaps richer dividends than attempting to go without, despite the fact that so many ventures casually do the latter.

Message Positioning functions as a crucial, consistent building block of all involved promotional efforts. This essential component of Brand Identity, combined with appropriate visual cues, enables recognizable elements of a differentiated Brand to be established. Such a system of aligned talking points and images sets the opportunity for capturing and retaining residual passive market share, in addition to the direct active captures: thereby maximizing the outcomes of reach, enhancing traction, increasing conversion ratios, and ultimately optimizing revenue streams and potential profitability.

Capture for conversion in eCommerce and other digital platforms requires additional tactics beyond those used for traditional business models. Because the opportunity for direct contact is eliminated, deferred, or reduced (as per the corresponding Sales and other Distribution Channels) – particularly in the case of a new spontaneous site visit – alternative means to establish and maintain a line of receptive communication and follow-up are necessary. SEO, SEM, and other rank or keyword level visitor attraction (passive, pull) systems only become viable and begin to generate impact after traction and awareness have already been established at significant thresholds. Therefore, pivotal tools – including landing pages and loss-leader conversion incentives – become leverage points through which value-added prospect relationships can be seized and shaped in the early stages: broadening both…the modes of reach, and leverage toward conversion.

Funnel Management demands consistent and efficient activity and results tracking, as well as systematized organization of the most vital business resource: properly qualified prospects. While analytics can contribute to the assessment of volumes, flow, data accuracy, and even conversion ratios, the fact remains that both active and passive tactics must be implemented in order to ensure consistent early-stage customer – and true revenue – growth. A reliable database containing accurate and timely updates can then serve the individual or team responsible for active follow-up: impacting increased conversion.

Awareness Campaigns provide systematized avenues of direct reach for Marketing messages. The first step in marketing an emerging operation involves educating the target audiences about the existing presence of the solution (product/service offering) and its USP (value proposition and key differentiators). Ultimately: why they want, need, and will prefer this solution over other options that currently exist…as well as those as not yet available or developed. Systematized repeat campaigns layer additional necessary information into the awareness of the target markets, and add more trigger points into each subsequent cycle: simultaneously beginning to build Brand Recognition within these initial target prospects as well, which will foster grassroots and potential social media expansion toward traction points.

Public Relations (PR) & Media complements the direct, active, and specifically targeted promotional Educational & Awareness Campaigns by reaching a broad scope of the target segments with concise, concentrated messages that reinforce the direct touch of Awareness Campaigns from converging angles. These alternative angles also enhance company credibility via affiliation with known traditional and social media circles (social proof). This also serves to compound and expand reach beyond existing points of contact (known prospects & customers) in the organization’s CRM database.

Customer Support falls into the Sales & Marketing realm as well, though technically operational in nature: the absorbed cost of acquiring and retaining customers attributed to these teams. Customer churn is expensive, even – or especially – in eCommerce, where effective points of communication can be more difficult to establish and maintain as compared to more traditional business models. Ideally, conversion of a website visitor into an active customer is only the first step.

In order for a small or mid-sized (SMB) business to survive, and ultimately thrive, minimizing churn while maximizing repeat business is the overarching goal. Amazon’s trend shaping pattern-analytic based automated shopping suggestions offer a relevant example of the power gained by leveraging the traction of repeat business from an existing base.

Replicable and reliable systems for Customer Support and follow-up must be effectively established and available – from the time the first customer is secured – in order to achieve optimal success, revenue generation, and sustain profitability.

Tactical Plans, implemented from an effective long-term Strategy, focus on immediate tasks that intend to catapult next-stage growth, awareness, and revenue generation. Additional considerations addressed in review during the fiscal Quarters following implementation of these components, as a priority, should consider how substantially both short-term and long-term objectives were met. Strategic Planning and implementation must precede tactics for optimal effectiveness, conversion, growth, and profitability.

How much growth, revenue, and  profit can your venture hope to create in 2016?

www.StrategyGBD.com

STRATEGY Global Business Development

PLAN | PROMOTE | PROFIT ©

→ Top 1% Transformational Consulting, 2001 – 2016

From Business Plan to Brand Identity (including website front-end), Marketing Strategy to Sales Optimization, Demand Analysis to Product Launch → gain gap-closing & results-producing expertise: decades of cross-industry, global, MBA-level insights for funded emerging Startups to Fortune 500.

Award-Winning dealings with more than 1/3 of the Fortune 500 launched the Consulting Practice, and our consistently 5-star ranked range of Growth Initiatives, in 2001.

→ Clients in more than a dozen countries & territories worldwide.

→ Celebrating 15 years of contributions to emerging and mid-sized business success!

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