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Elmer Thomas Jr.
For many, the new year will be a time to launch new businesses. In this fast paced Web 2.0 digital world, we don't have time to create big binder sized business plans before we get started. Instead, Guy Kawasaki offers an excellent method, in his book the The Art of the Start, to get your new business to market fast and furiously. Here is a summary, along with some specific action items you can take, and a link to a template you can use to get those new businesses launched in 2008.

These steps come from the first chapter of the The Art of the Start, Causation. There are ten more chapters, so make sure you follow through with the remaining ten after you launch.

MAKE MEANING

Answer these questions to make sure you are ready to move forward:

  • How will your business make the world a better place?
  • Are you ready to stake everything on your idea?
  • Are you willing to take full responsibility, success or fail?
  • Are you ready to work harder than you ever have in your whole life?

MAKE MANTRA

Forget the mission statement, make a mantra instead. Here are some guidelines:

  • The mantra is for your employees, not your customers.
  • It should define why your business exists.
  • All decisions should be able to reference the mantra for an example.
  • It should be as short and powerful as possible.

GET GOING

Get your product or service to market and start selling. The help fuel the process, keep your thinking big, find some quality partners and create passion in the marketplace.

Here are some steps to get you going:

  • Create a beta invitation page.
  • Create a simple mind map or use case diagram from which to base your prototype.
  • Create a prototype.
  • Start offering your services.
  • Start networking and promoting your new products and services.
  • Iterate on your designs quickly.
  • Use your early public releases to gain feedback on your iterations.

DEFINE YOUR BUSINESS MODEL

You need to define how you will make money. The following questions and comments should be considered:

  • How will you generate revenue?
  • What is the monthly cost to operate the business?
  • Who is your specific customer? (Don't be afraid to niche)
  • Write out your business model as simply as possible.
  • Calculate the gross profit of each unit sold and divide by the monthly cost to operate your business. Ask a few women if they think you can sell that many units. If not, your business plan needs revising.

DEFINE MILESTONES, ASSUMPTIONS and TASKS

Make sure you define the following milestones first:

  • Prove your concept.
  • Complete the design specifications.
  • Complete your prototype.
  • Raise capital.
  • Launch beta.
  • Official launch.
  • Achieve break even.

For each milestone, set a target completion date and post this somewhere where the whole team can see it daily.

The assumptions should include:

  • Performance metrics.
  • Market size.
  • Gross margin.
  • Sales calls per salesperson.
  • Conversion rate.
  • Sales cycle length.
  • ROI for customers.
  • Technical support tracking.
  • Payment cycle.
  • Compensation requirements for your staff.
  • Cost to produce your product or service.

These assumptions should be linked to the milestones. You need to make sure you track the assumptions for quick reaction when they fail.

Create a task list, that includes all the major tasks involved with running your businesses. These are all secondary to the major milestones, but they are important.

Here are some examples:

  • Renting office space.
  • Creating partnerships with vendors.
  • Setting up accounting systems.
  • Filing legal documents.
  • Purchasing insurance policies.
  • Setting up phone services.

So now the big question... what business do you plan to start in 2008?

RESOURCES

The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything

Startup Template

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