Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dust Off Your Business Plan Startups! It's Post-CNY.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dust Off Your Business Plan Startups! It's Post-CNY.

Employee Weiya performance at leading hotel chain in Taiwan
Professionals entertaining the hard working employees at one of the leading bakery cafe chains in Taiwan.
With the Weiya season at a close (Weiya - a tradition especially in Taiwan of celebrating Tu Di Gong, the god of wealth and merit, and marking the end of the Lunar Year. It's an opportunity for employers to thank their employees for all the hard work of the past year), it's time to dust off those business plans and focus, re-focus, and/or pivot.

Lots of debate surrounding business plans, whether to do them or not is the question. The Cons are a startup team hiding out in their business plan process, determined to get their plan exactly "right" before moving forward. Or the concern that putting down every thought in 88 pages of documentation, only to abandon it with the next monthly pivot. Time better spent doing something else? 

Jibao Team celebrating at their Weiya. Left to right: Augus, Chloe, Diane, Hai Chen and Paul.

In sales, we're often taught to "Plan Your Work, Work Your Plan." The Pro of doing a business plan is that it forces you to think through your ideas and the mere act of committing them on paper helps to clarify your messaging. 

Do you need a completely polished and typo free business plan? Its depends. Are you creating it for an investor? Or do you need some guiding principles to clarify your thoughts and share with your teammates and partners? I'm more for the later. Some of the teams under Xceleration Labs guidance have recently committed to paper their business plans (even after months and years of operations). 

If a business plan sounds daunting, try out the Business Model Canvas, an excellent Lean Startup tool, to help clarify your thinking. There are plenty of excellent guides out there to help you clarify your thoughts. Ash Maurya does an excellent tutorial that you can find on youtube. 

CEO Even Chung of Patisco hard at work on his Business Plan
After you've used the business model canvas to work through your thinking, that should help guide your business plan, as it has guided Patisco's re-focused plan. More to come in a later blog post. Hint: 2015 should see a rapid expansion into more business lines and more geographies.

Another team, Kuky World, had the advantage of attending a business school class and get guidance from one of their Professor to develop a more traditional institutional investor oriented business plan. 

For this exercise, the Kuky team (Yale Entrepreneurial Institute Summer Fellow) was asked to create a more focused and niche marketed plan. This plan should serve as a great jumping off point to build one of the most unique and "kooky" e-commerce sites to come along in a while. 

Kuky World will bridge Chinese designers and Chinese manufactured products with US audiences. Stay tuned, as it should be an interesting entrant into the highly competitive e-commerce marketplace. CEO Mavi Miller is banking on her curating skills to carry the day, and she is quite the fashionista, as an excerpt from the Kuky business plan attests, "For the last ten years, Miller has been passionate about finding unique products. Colleagues, friends and strangers on the street regularly ask her where she bought these items." - a reference to the unique items she may be wearing or carrying at the moment!

That's all for now, we say good bye to the Year of the Horse, and wish everyone happiness, health and good fortune for the coming Year of the Ram. Happy Business Planning!

Aki's name card at Fable/Dr. Finance Weiya.