Don’t write a business plan, draw it

Why a picture is worth a thousand words, even in business

Laurence McCahill
Jul 12 · 3 min read

Back in 2014 at the first Happy Startup Summercamp I remember sitting in on a Lean Brand workshop led by branding guru Jeremiah Gardner in one of the tents.

He asked if anyone there had written a business plan and a handful of people raised their hands.

“Well congratulations!” he said

“You’re all fiction writers.”

Cue mass laughing.

Jeremiah sharing words of wisdom at Happy Startup Summercamp in 2014

While it made for a good joke, he was being deadly serious.

Most people write business plans before they’ve done any work to validate their ideas.

9 times out of 10 they are pure guesswork.

How can you project your revenues in year 3 when you’ve got little or no customers yet?

It can be a great way to waste a lot of time and effort (unless you want a bank loan — which is another post…).

Luckily there is a better way.

The best way to start a business or project is to thingify it, not write about it.

Introducing visual storytelling

Christine Chopyak is a visual strategist from Denver, Colorado and author of Picture Your Business Strategy.

She calls herself an idea builder — which is where her work crosses over with what we do.

We first met Christine when she came to Oregon and participated in Alptitude USA (pic above) last year. We fell in love with her boundless energy and enthusiasm for her work that borders on brain magic.

We’re delighted that she’s hopping across the pond especially to join us for Summercamp this year to run a visualisation workshop (more details below).

Christine says that when we draw a picture, it’s completely unique to us as it represents our vision of what it is we’re creating.

When other people see it, they engage with it in a different way.

Where we might disagree and edit words we see written down, but pictures make us curious, they allow for a degree of listening and translating that wouldn’t be possible with words.

They start a conversation and open up possibilities, rather than being set in stone.

“Our brain is oriented toward visuals, it’s innate, it’s deep within us. We don’t really need to be able to draw perfectly to be able to tell a story about our product or business, and see how it’s going to interact with customers.”

To whet your appetite, Christine joined Carlos as a recent guest on our podcast which you can listen to here.

It’s a lovely conversation where they explore everything around visual storytelling and how you can use pictures to get clear on your ideas and communicate them to others.

We hope you enjoy the podcast — or even better, come to Summercamp.

Christine’s workshop Picture your business, vision and project will be one of 20+ across the weekend at this year’s gathering. She will start with the basics of drawing (just 4 shapes!), from there you will use templates, wicked questions and peer consulting to ‘picture’ where you are now, and where you would like to be in the next year. Apply here to join us as we’re almost sold out.

The Happy Startup School

Build a life and business rich with purpose

Laurence McCahill

Written by

Co-founder The Happy Startup School. Building a global community of heart-shaped entrepreneurs and leaders, one event at a time.

The Happy Startup School

Build a life and business rich with purpose

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