Sketching Business Models

At the start of a project, we like to make sketches to help us understand the business we are trying to create. Who is the user? What is the product or service? And what is the business model? This helps us quickly identify the big risks on a project and then start targeting those risks in our work.

Spreadsheets + The Business Model Canvas

Until recently, the business model sketches have not been very satisfying. We’ve used a variety of tools, including spreadsheets and the business model canvas.

The problem with spreadsheets is that they’re typically too detailed. For the same reason that designers like to start with pencil and paper–not PhotoShop–modelers should avoid Excel. In the early stages of a project, a detailed spreadsheet presents a false precision about what you know.

Over the last 10 years or so, Alex Osterwalder has been doing some great work with the Business Model Canvas–and that’s a tool that a lot of teams use to articulate their business model. But I’ve always found it hard to use–my brain just doesn’t like the grid. And I’ve found that it takes a long time to explain the BMC to clients.

How To Sketch A Business Model

Recently, we hit upon a nice technique to sketch out a business model and I’m super excited about it. I don’t see this as a replacement for the Canvas or Excel. Instead, it’s a quick way that to get started, and a great way for teams to get on the same page.

So here’s a quick screencast that explains a method. Take a look (it’s only 8 minutes long) and let me know what you think.



Learning More

I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a response here or hit me on twitter: I’m @jseiden.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out my upcoming workshop on November 24 in London.

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