Start with a ‘Business Model Canvas’. You could switch old age support and win £10,000 or 2x £5,000 second prize
The deadline for submitting a 3000 word business plan to the Silver Linings Contest for care solutions for older generations is January 1, 2022.
Win 1 prize of £10,000 for the winners and 2 prizes of £5,000 for the second prizes.
In this article, Colum Lowe, Director, Design Age Institute, and one of the Silver Linings competition judges offers advice to potential participants on how to turn an idea into a business plan.
Innovation is defined as “the successful exploitation of a new idea”. In my experience, based on over 30 years in the design industry, there is no shortage of new ideas; those that have been successfully exploited, on the other hand, are a little more difficult to find.
If you have a brilliant idea and you decide to embark on this long and winding path of commercialization well known to all entrepreneurs, before going too far you will be asked for your business plan: investors will want to see it, banks Also ; in fact, anyone you want to involve in your business will demand a copy.
So what is it and why is it so important?
Simply put, it’s your entire business proposal in one document. It should include your idea, your vision, your mission statements, your brand position, your marketing strategy, your projected profit and loss, your sales targets, your recruitment campaign, your suppliers, your stakeholders and your risks, And much more. I have a template that I use with clients (many are available online) that’s 27 pages, and that’s before you start filling it out.
If anyone reading this has completed a business plan, they will know that it is long, complex and difficult to achieve with any degree of precision or certainty, a lot to invest in terms of time and effort to a business idea that you have little certainty will bring business returns, and many would-be entrepreneurs fall for this hurdle.
BUT, there is of course a short version, the Business Model Canvas, originally developed by Alexander Osterwalder, which is a one-page visual document with nine distinct elements describing your value proposition, infrastructure, customers and finances. Its beauty is that it visually represents your business activities and more importantly how they are connected and potential trade-offs. This is a single page report at its best.
Obviously, that’s not enough for a major investment decision, but it will tell you if it’s even worth asking the question, and where the obstacles to success might be and, therefore, where to focus most of your your efforts. I would always recommend completing a Business Model Canvas before undertaking the thorough task of a comprehensive business plan, it is an important part of the journey and if your business idea fails better fail here with little time and money invested.
The Silver Linings competition is looking for something between a full business plan and the Business Model Canvas: a 3,000-word entry based on the criteria set out on the Silver Linings website. The Business Model Canvas would therefore be a good starting point!
One thing that successful entrepreneurs tend to have is endless optimism, which is important for success and overcoming the many obstacles to success. But optimism “doesn’t sell beans”, some hard truths need to be addressed or optimism just delivers a seasoned pessimist.
If, using a business model canvas, or any other tool for that matter, you can identify all the reasons why your business idea might fail, and you can plan to overcome them, then your idea will surely succeed. This is one of the approaches we use at Design Age Institute when working with our own contractors and is based on my time working in patient safety at the NHS. It takes a “Failure Mode Effects Analysis” (FMEA) approach to entrepreneurship. We believe that if we can spot all the reasons why a proposal might fail, understand the effects and then mitigate them, then there is a good chance of success.
We look for ten things when evaluating an idea’s chances of success:
Need – With what precision or assurance can you identify a real need and for which target clientele(s)?
Market niche – How sure are you that the need is big enough to sustain a business venture? How scalable is the idea?
Solution – To what extent does your idea/solution meet this market need?
Desire – What is the probability that your solution will be desired by users/customers? Has research been undertaken?
IP / Competition – Do you know the competition well? Is this idea distinct from them? Can it be protected by intellectual property or by other means?
Coalition of the Will – Can you get enough support within your own organization, at all levels, to take the idea to market? Can you devote the time to delivering the idea?
Market access – What are the barriers to getting the product to enough customers and how do you plan to overcome them?
Sales / Communications – How will you communicate with your customers and market your product/service? Will it be affordable to tell your customers that your product exists?
Funds – What is the probability that you will be able to raise enough funds to bring the product to market?
profit – Are you able to manufacture and sell your product at a price the customer is willing to pay and from which you can generate enough profit to sustain your business?
Of course, whatever approach you take to business planning as part of the innovation process, one thing they obviously all have in common is that they are all made up; they are proposals, projections and predictions based on enthusiasm and optimism, and they should be. Innovation at its core has to be optimistic, you have to believe you can change the world otherwise you definitely won’t, which reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Confucius “people who say a thing can’t be done.” cannot be done should not interrupt those who are actually doing it”.
Good luck with your business plan entry in the Silver Linings competition!
Colum Lowe is director of the Design Age Institute and one of the judges of the Silver Linings competition
Silver Linings Competition: Business Plan Submission
Before January 9, 2022
Shortlist of announced business plans
January 27, 2022
Business Plan Winners Announced
February 10, 2022
Read how a young entrepreneur developed and executed a senior care business plan: Silver Linings Aged Care Competition: In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity for change
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