If all an entrepreneur needed to start a business was a great idea or a realization of opportunity, then we’d see millions more businesses in this world. Everyone you talk to has an idea or a way to make the world better. Usually with “… and I would pay for that!” added for good measure.
Bluntly, those people bug me. And they should bug you, too. You, after all, are the person who takes action. You aren’t interested in grand ideas from people who won’t actually pay for them but enjoy to complain or appear superior.
But let’s also be honest. Taking an idea and mapping it out as a business is hard. It can feel daunting. In this article, I share the framework I’ve built over my career so far interviewing over 150 entrepreneurs and building two businesses myself.
But first, a bit of background
Scroll down if you just want to know the decision framework and not read the background story. I won’t be hurt, promise.
I founded two companies before PulseBlueprint.
My first company was, from a business and personal perspective, an unmitigated failure. We burned through cash. I was unemployed and earned below the poverty line from ad-hoc consulting for the year and a half I ran the company. To make matters worse, my physical and mental health took a nosedive. The only good thing to come out of that experience was a year of amazing learning. Of course, though, it took me another year to fully digest the lessons so the benefit was not immediate.
The business was a diversity and inclusion-focused recruiting platform. We thought we had a different way to analyze talent that inherently took into account diversity. We were cocky and thought everyone would flock to us. That was not the case. While we had a strong idea, we lacked any form of framework that would help us make good business decisions.
To make some money and because I liked it, I started freelance writing for a tech and innovation-focused media company called BetaKit. I made a little bit of side cash and built up a bit of rapport in the tech community.
Then, I got cornered at an event.
The conversation went literally like this (I’m not joking):
Him: “Hey, are you Stefan from BetaKit?”
Him: “Oh, good. Can I pay you to write for me?”
And that was how I got my first client for my second business, a then-unnamed “side hustle”.
Shortly after that, I began to close more deals. I went from $50 in my first month to $7,000 in my highest month after less than a year. I was making more from my side hustle than my job, but I liked the benefits and camaraderie of a job, so I opted to work full-time and maintain my business as a side hustle.
Through those two experiences and the fact that I interviewed over 150 entrepreneurs for BetaKit, #movethedial, Elevate, and more, I began to synthesize what companies needed to have documented in order to make decisions.
And, because I like an easy to remember phrase (pneumonic device), “I developed Vroom Vroom GO”.
The framework to take your idea and turn it into a business map: Vroom Vroom GO
Taking an idea and making it into a tangible business framework is nowhere near as painful as it sounds. Follow these steps and you’re ready for kickoff.
The Vroom Vroom GO framework has the following categories, described in detail below:
The vision of your company is one sentence that explains how you are going to change the world.
It should be:
- Lofty – almost unrealistic in scope
- Attainable – a world you can’t imagine is not a vision
- Timeless – it has to last the entire life of your company
At PulseBlueprint, our founding vision is to educate and inspire entrepreneurs on how to grow their businesses, reach their potential, and attain fulfillment in their lives.
The “proof point” of your vision. It’s the thing that makes you know you’ve changed the world.
It has to be:
- Tangible – it has to be real and measurable
- Connected – it has to be clearly tied to your vision so an outsider can understand it
Our realization point is when we’ve had a part to play in creating 1,000 millionaires. That’s 1,000 lives changed for the better through entrepreneurship and it means we helped to create $1 billion in value.
Once we hit that, we’ll up the number or change the realization metric depending on how things go.
Your mission is what you are building as a company in order to achieve your realization point and vision.
It should be:
- Logically connected to your vision
- Enabling of your realization point
Our mission is to harness the world’s practical entrepreneurial knowledge.
Values are a set of action guidelines that help you build the company you stated in your mission.
They need to be:
- Action-oriented so you can use them to make tough decisions
- Have no inadvertent perverse incentives that, when followed, actually take away from your vision despite being “values-aligned”
Our (initial) values are:
- Explain how it’s done
- Use quantitative and qualitative data to make decisions
- Leverage the crowd
- Remember that businesses are living organisms with changing needs
- Tell experiential, fun, and practical stories
If values don’t work for you anymore, you can change them! Remember, they are there to help you achieve your mission and vision. If they aren’t doing that, they need to evolve.
This is how you make money.
When calculating revenue streams, pay attention to:
- ROAS (Return On Ad Spend)
- ROI (Return on Investment)
- Number of revenue streams your business has
- Revenue stream dependency (does one revenue stream rely on another or are they independent?)
When you’re first starting out, you may want to focus on one revenue stream. When you’ve built it to a point where it’s scalable (ie there is a process in place to grow revenue over time and the stream is profitable enough to fund its own expansion or you have investment) then look to adding more revenue streams.
As an e-commerce media company, we have a few ways to make money (more on that in another post!).
Your “One liner” that you can use to explain, easily, to anyone what you do. For professional services, this can be as simple as the profession you are, for example “X is a law firm specializing in tax”.
Keep these things in mind when creating your motto:
- What benefit you provide to customers
- The problems you solve for customers
- Who you are in your industry
PulseBlueprint’s motto is “we’re a media platform that provides education, inspiration, and resources for entrepreneurs”.
The goal of your company is the ultimate benefit to your customers. It should be short. It may be similar to a realization point, but focused on customer experience instead of company metric.
Our goal is for every entrepreneur on our platform to have a fun experience learning and an easy experience getting access to the resources they need to grow their business.
Outcomes are some early proof points, tied to specific initiatives or tactics your company does. Outcomes are the most malleable and you could have many you are tracking at any one time.
For outcomes, it’s best to follow a SMART goal outcome framework.
Innovation launches and process builds
Having a stellar idea for a company is great. Taking action on that – making your first sale or getting a seed investor – is even better. Innovation will launch your company and take it to new heights as you grow.
In order to grow, however, you need process.
From the earliest stages, as a business owner, you need to think about how to automate and scale as much as possible. In particular, the more mundane and routine tasks you can automate, the better.
One of the best ways to scale is to ‘download’ all of your knowledge, thoughts, dreams, and visions onto paper – digital or physical. If you’re a solopreneur, then this document becomes a source of inspiration and keeps you in check. If you have employees, this document becomes a foundation of your corporate truth, helping other people innovate and make decisions. In both cases, you’re better set up to grow.