7 Top Takeaways from Intro to the Business Model Canvas: Problem Solving for Value Add
“Do you have a problem that annoys you so much you just have to solve it?”
That was the question posed to participants at last week’s event: Introduction to the Business Model Canvas: Problem Solving for Value-add. In a 60-minute workshop with business teaching fellow, Kerry Sinclair, 30 aspiring entrepreneurs visited MEST to learn the basics of business development via a tool from the Lean Startup Methodology.
Agile Business Development and Lean Thinking are central to the curriculum taught at MEST. The process of iteration is fundamental to both ideas. A simple template, the Business Model Canvas (BMC), is an agile tool that replaces time-consuming and complex business plans. Versatile in nature, it helps entrepreneurs to “fail early, fail fast”, then quickly progress on their path toward finding a great product that can satisfy a strong market – or find product-market fit.
Last Wednesday, workshop participants used the BMC to identify a problem and brainstorm solutions they hope will create a compelling Value Proposition. Walking through 3 building blocks in the BMC, individuals and teams defined Key Activities, Customer Segments and Customer Relationships -- and gained an understanding of why product-market fit is essential for a company to succeed.
Understanding the market for a product or service is first in delivering a solution that people want. To get a competitive edge, fledgling companies must identify their target market and understand how a particular offering benefits the customer. Knowing this information helps to refine a company’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Taught at a high level, the workshop enabled hopeful entrepreneurs to analyze the marketplace and get to understand their customers
Here are some takeaways from the session:
Use the Business Model Canvas: The BMC is a lean tool for developing new, or documenting existing, business models. It provides a visual snapshot of each business area and provides insight into operational, market and growth strategies.
Pinpoint the problem: Discovering a customer’s pain points and what they hope to gain from a product or service is key to a compelling Value Proposition.
Determine Value Proposition: A company can have a single, or multiple, value propositions, depending on its business model. Value propositions can be quantitative, stressing price and efficiency, or qualitative, highlighting the customer experience.
Define key activities: These are the most important processes that need to occur for a business model to be effective. They are based on value proposition, operations, customer relationships, revenue generation, and other business goals.
Find your people: A target market is a subset of the total available market. Building a successful company requires finding customers for your product within that market based on factors like location, customer pain points and the business model that a company chooses.
Get → Keep → Grow: How do you attract customers to your company? And how to you get them to stay while you acquire new customers? Customer relationships define how a company interacts with existing, and attracts new, customers within its target market.
“Market matters most”: Without a market for your product, you don’t have a company. Achieving product-market-fit requires finding a strong market that will pull demand for a product or service out of your startup.
At the end of the day, the most important criteria for a successful startup is a problem that persistently drives the founder to find a solution -– bringing to market a product or service that satisfies customers. Beyond smarts and skill set, entrepreneurship requires critical thinking, instinct and a whole lot of grit. Because the process of company building is often an uneven path, an entrepreneur must be willing to fail and to accept that there is no clear-cut route to success.
The MEST training program teaches the skills of lean business development to its Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs), while helping them to develop the right attitude and a keen intuition. Introduction to the BMC, and its use a practical tool, has now given other aspiring entrepreneurs a taste of what it takes to build a business that will win.
This article was contributed by Kerry Sinclair who is a business teaching fellow at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology. She has a background in operations and business development, having worked with US-based non-profits and sustainable fashion companies in Ghana before joining MEST. A human rights activist with business acumen, Kerry is excited by all things entrepreneurial and is dedicated to finding DBIA solutions.
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At MEST, we continue to be deeply concerned about COVID-19 and have been closely monitoring developments locally and globally. Our number one priority remains the health and safety of our community and we will continue to follow local authority and health official guidelines.
Due to the ongoing nature of the pandemic and the uncertainty that the future of travel holds, we have been unable to conduct in-person interviews and host recruitment around Africa for our next cohort. For this reason, we have taken the decision to postpone the Training Program to next year.
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