If you’re looking to start a business, you won’t get far without crafting a strategic plan. Conventional wisdom says this document should take the form of a detailed business plan, but an increasing number of entrepreneurs are turning to a less formal alternative called Business Mapping.
“Business planning can be overwhelming, especially when contending between your ever growing To Do list and the intimidating task of writing a formal business plan,” explained Dylan Hrycyshen, Business Planning Advisor at Small Business BC.
“But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Business mapping helps deconstruct the formal elements of the business plan, simplifying a lot of information into bite-sized pieces.”
What is Business Mapping?
Business mapping achieves the same goals as a more traditional business plan without going into as much granular detail. It provides a lean startup canvas for developing a new business that segments your potential enterprise into nine easy to understand chunks.
“It’s important to write things down and do so in a way that makes sense to you,” Dylan said.
“With a business map you’re encouraged to draw pictures, colour with markers and use sticky notes. A business map creates a visual picture to help plan your route ahead.”
Below are the nine segments to consider when constructing a business map:
An important place to start is to identify the key individuals you need to carry out business. Who are your partners? Who are your suppliers? Who will provide the finance? If you can provide specific examples, it’s recommended to do so.
Simply put, what actions or activities do you need to carry out to get your business off the ground? This point allows you to consider the key steps necessary for you to transition from a road map, to delivering your product or service.
This point deals with the key strategic assets you need to start and operate the business. This can take the shape of human resources, machinery or even infrastructure.
Why should potential customers care about your product or service? Your unique value proposition is what sets you apart from the competition. It’s the secret sauce that makes customers pay attention to and want to purchase from you.
Customers are out there but how will you reach them? Will it be online? In person? Over the phone? Once you’ve established how your relationship will work, build a loose framework for maintaining the relationship. Think of this as a loose marketing plan.
For this point, you should consider the most effective ways to communicate, sell to, or provide service to your customers. How will you get your product to your customers? Try to view this process through the lens of the “customer journey”, put yourself in their shoes.
Who is your target market? Who is your ideal customer? An effective way of establishing this is to create ideal customer avatars. Think of the different types of people you expect to be interested in your product. By crafting these avatars, you can think about the problems and needs of these customers and use these insights to inform your business model and marketing.
This point deals with the types of costs your business will incur. It’s vital to highlight fixed and variable costs, and whether these costs will be linear or constant as your business scales up.
Your business model will rise or fall based on the revenue you generate. Identifying and explaining how you intend to generate revenue should be considered a vital part of your business map. Use information you gathered on your customer avatar and unique selling proposition to help estimate these streams.