Business Plan Structure:
Before we build a house we must first design the plan even if we have the vision of what we want to make already thought out. Working through the design process allows us to put our vision down on paper see where we need to change a room, move a window, or add a door. But, it also forces us to consider the structure, how will it stand, will it be usable, and does it make financial sense to build. The same logic needs to be applied to creating a new business or venture.
The Business Model Canvas:
When we started Nerds Abroad we all had a vision for what we can do to help and change the world. However, we knew it was important to sit down and create a business plan to help define the work. Yet, we did not start by writing a lengthy document that specifies every aspect for how we will run as an organization. Instead we used the Business Model Canvas to layout key aspects that are critical to making our mission and vision work.
The canvas is a visual tool that allows team members to see how customer relations, key partners, key resources, and more, are connected. It also shows where there may be a great idea that doesn’t fit into the rest of the picture. That opens up the entire plan to discussion as we saw with our earlier building a house example. An indoor swimming pool is nice and will help the owner stay fit but it doesn’t fit within the budget or overall plan for the house. The owner may find it better to outsource the swimming pool to a local gym. And with the canvas we can find aspects that are best left to other experts or left off the table for now.
The best benefit to using a business model canvas is that it is not carved in stone. Just as a house can be remodeled, we can review and revise the plan as needed to suit the demands of an ever changing environment. As there is nothing in this world that is certain and the ability to be flexible and quick to adapt is critical for every organization, lest we fall victim to stagnation and become the subject of business school case studies.