Back of a NapkinsteemCreated with Sketch.

in business •  2 months ago


Can you explain what your business can offer on the back of a napkin? Just using a few words and perhaps a sketch or two?

If not, your business proposition is unlikely to be clear (in your own mind, let alone your potential prospects' minds...).

I work with a lot of start-up companies and often it is surprising how many struggle to explain the benefits that their business will bring and how it will achieve it. Founders often fumble over complex terminology and detail when trying to explain their business offering that can sound like...errr...noise.

Your business proposition needs to be stripped down into plain and simple English.

Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, famously sketched the the triangle route of his new airline on the back of a napkin and history was made. Can you do the same? If not, why not?

Analogies can also often help explain a business proposition:

"You know the way that AirBnB connects travellers with places to stay? Well our business will similarly......"
What is it that your business is trying to fix or improve? What problem is it trying to solve? If there are a number of problems that your business could solve, pick the main one to start with (in the same way that Amazon conquered book sales before it expanded into other channels).

The more you can simplify your message, the more powerful your business proposition will be...


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Great piece of content with an important message.

One of my ex bosses was especially great at teaching his employees how to be precise when it comes to defining and rolling out business ideas and strategies. We were even invited to events, workshops and seminars where we learned to sell those ideas and products to others.

It all starts with knowing the benefits of your own business or product.

Thanks for the reminder - which I had to resteem right away :-)

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Hey @surfermarly, thanks so much for stopping by and for your comment.

One of my ex bosses was especially great at teaching his employees how to be precise when it comes to defining and rolling out business ideas and strategies. We were even invited to events, workshops and seminars where we learned to sell those ideas and products to others.

That's really valuable training and we need more of it for startups today.

Really, really appreciate the resteem. Thanks again :)

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I'll never forget the three words he praised over and over again:
Idea - Strategy - Concept (in that very order).

Many times I see business starting to work on conception without actually having elaborated a precise business idea, like the overall headline for all your doings. To me that one job was extremely valuable especially due to the CEO's management philosophy. Another one of his repertoire I am totally living up since then is:

Management strategy no. 1: All or nothing.

Many businesses start with the idea of: Well let's give it a shot. But they're actually not fully prepared, not really going all in with all of their ressources, passion, dedication.

Oh, I could talk about all this for hours - lol.

Thanks for the inspiration and for unconsciously bringing the gold old memories back, hehe :-))

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All or nothing. Fully in. Love it. Music to my ears! :)

Hi Steve. Very true a great concept may not get the to where it should and under achieve if the message is not clear and understood. The simpler the better.

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Absolutely, the problem is that simple isn't always easy!

A lot of people who want to in business do not know why, how or what they want to do. Everyone should take the napkin test as one essential test for readiness and clarity

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