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It’s just made of canvas

February 1, 2012

The last few posts point to ways of thinking about and using the business model canvas.  Follow those instructions, and what are you still missing?  Here are five answsers:

You don’t get the transition.  If you’ve built a working caterpillar (that is, designed experiments that have gotten good results in each box); how do you turn that thing into a butterfly?  It’s not exactly implementation risk – because a lot of the testing in finding partners, building in-house resources, and running in-house activities, has addressed implementation risk. But the path from MVP to thing that works in the real world isn’t likely to be smooth.  Likewise, the path from knowing you can attract partners or customers or employees to actually creating those relationships, twists and turns.

You might not have the skills.  Entrepreneurs need to sell.  They need to negotiate.  They need to understand their investor’s motivations.  They need to empower and motivate people on the team. They need to create a productive business culture.  None of this is addressed specifically in the canvas.

You’re at the mercy of the environment.  Your validated plan to sell to the Greek market could go up in flames.  Your ability to provide taxi service in Washington DC could fall victim to regulations.  A nationwide recession or a bad swing in oil futures could lead your most promising angel investors to think twice. A key platform provider could come out with a new version that cuts you out. The MLB, MPAA, ATT, Ap Store, GOP, Sierra Club, or who knows who else could fix their eye on you like Sauron in Lord of the Rings and take you right out of the game.  What looked like clear skies to everyone could turn stormy in a week.

Your competition could act.  The real companies with a lot to lose, could take aim, or just come out with a new product and beat you on features.  If you saw a hole in the market, it’s not inconceivable that people actually in the market saw it too.

The canvas is an incredible tool.  Use it right, and you will KNOW you’ve got a viable company.  But viable companies go out of business all the time.  It’s just a first step.

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