Lesson Learned #2: Learn to think BUSINESS

Third Space is a co-working + childcare concept in Omaha, NE, the brainchild of yours truly, Kate White, who is new to all things business, spreadsheets and pro formas. This blog is a documentation of my journey to entrepreneurship.

 Via  Pexels

Via Pexels

The starting point

My first step in shaping up my idea into something resembling a business plan was filling out a profile that my mentor Jeff gave me. It’s the same profile he gives to startups who want to be considered for acceptance into The Garage

Now, if you have a new idea you’re noodling on, this profile might seem overwhelming. It seemed intense to me at first, and I was only able to fill out about 2/3 of the questions, even after a couple weeks of research and iteration. The point of filling out one of these at an early stage is to get yourself thinking in a business evaluation mindset about the viability and (realistic) possibilities that surround your vision. If you’re like me, it will also get you doing a lot of research which will result in a fanning of your idea flame too!

This profile could also be helpful if you already have a business or startup going and have never taken a deep dive into these areas. I'm no expert, but I could see how it would be helpful to think through concepts like the customer's problem, your competitive advantage, and target market in order to take sales and marketing to the next level, for example.

The profile

  • Company Name & Address
  • Industry
  • Website/Facebook/Twitter
  • Management Team Names, Titles & Contact Info
  • Advisors & Key Relationships
    • Mentors, advisory board, legal council, etc.
  • Company Launch Date & Key Events
    • Company founded date, product/service launched, first customer/beta customer, etc.
  • Elevator Pitch
    • A one or two sentence overview that will tell us what your company does. (Think riding up 5 floors on an elevator – that’s all the time you have.)
  • Customer Problem
    • Short paragraph describing the problem your business addresses, what pain point you’re solving for the customer.
  • Product/Service Description
    • Describe in detail the product or service your company will provide to solve the customer’s problem.
  • Target Market
    • What is your target market?  How large do you estimate this market to be? Describe what your typical customer looks like in the market.
  • Sales & Marketing
    • How are you going to acquire and maintain customers?  Do you have any existing customers using your products/services?
  • Competitive Advantage
    • Describe the current competitive landscape and describe what makes your solution unique and appealing over others. Include any patent or proprietary technology that you own.
  • Business Model
    • How will your business generate revenue?  Describe the revenue model (recurring subscriptions, one-time fees, project costs+margin, etc.) 
  • Management Team Description
    • Describe your current team and what makes them uniquely qualified to build and run this business.
  • Financing the Business
    • How have you financed the business to date?  How do you plan to finance the business in the future? (Bootstrap it to profitability; raise equity financing; take on debt financing; etc.) Are you currently working with possible funding sources? 
  • Product Development Roadmap
    • How do you see your specific product or service developing from its current state? What’s the grand vision for your business as a whole? What are your plans for achieving that vision?

Somewhere in the midst of the researching and brainstorming I also looked at successful pitches like the AirBNB pitch and Sequoia pitch deck to get my head in the space of how successful startups create winning business plans. These were helpful for me to see what the end product of all this work would eventually be, to keep my eye on the prize.

How about you?

Does this excite you or stress you out, my fellow newbie? It energized me to work on this for the first time, and I hope it does the same for you. Iterating on it for the nth time as my vision progressed was a bit less exciting but it's proven to be well worth the time. I still refer to my Third Space profile when putting together presentations and working out my pitch. Good luck to you, friend!