Icon-Based Business Plans

Depend­ing on who you listen to, a busi­ness plan is either a waste of your time or an essen­tial doc­u­ment. A good com­prom­ise could be Peter Hilton’s idea to cre­ate a con­cise, icon-based busi­ness plan visu­al­isa­tion:

Inspired by the sim­pli­city and suc­cess of the Cre­at­ive Com­mons icons, which con­dense pages of inform­a­tion that no one ever reads into an eas­ily-under­stand­able sym­bol accom­pan­ied by a sen­tence of text, Peter pro­poses to apply that exact same logic to busi­ness plans. In real­ity many sub­mit­ted busi­ness plans are simply not read by investors – they are too long, too bor­ing, or too con­vo­luted. Nat­ur­ally, the entre­pren­eurs who write them want to go into as much detail as pos­sible in their plans while the investors that read them just want to see the very core points.

In his talk present­ing the idea (pdf, loc­al mir­ror), Hilton pro­poses a series of icon-descrip­tion pairs for a num­ber of busi­ness plan sec­tions:

  • About the team (e.g. We can build the product – our CTO is a geni­us).
  • The idea (e.g. We plan to execute a proven concept).
  • The product or ser­vice (e.g. We have a demo or pro­to­type).
  • Rev­en­ue mod­els (e.g. We plan to mon­et­ise our ser­vice later on).
  • Fund­ing (e.g. We need series A fund­ing).
  • Part­ner­ships (e.g. We need an investor with a busi­ness net­work).
  • Return on invest­ment (e.g. We have a cash-flow pro­gnos­is).

The idea was appar­ently not inten­ded to be taken ser­i­ously, but it seems to solve a prob­lem.

Update: Hilton’s now cre­ated the Plan Crunch­er.