Workshop 6 - The Living Business Guide

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The Living Business

Here is the link to Tom's The Living Business Guide, spreadsheets.

Business Formation and Proof of Concept: How do we move forward once we have identified our Seed (DNA)? What's next in the Formation and Proof of Concept?


The four foundations of The Living Business:

  1. Community Impact: Serving and caring
  2. Competency: Learning; you need a core set of competencies in order to create a sustainable business, some will be inside your business, others outside.
  3. Product and Service Development: Developing and refining your product/service
  4. Operations: Producing your product/service on an ongoing basis; how does that happen? what is involved in doing that?


Here is a Formation Work Plan Spreadsheet for Adrienne's business, Animal Intuition, as an example of a project management plan. It is arranged by activities x time.

The green boxes represent the Foundation stage, the yellow boxes represent the Proof of Concept stage, and Community Involvement is in blue. Examples:

  • In your first week you should be defining the scope of your business - what can you do and what will you NOT do? There have to be defined limits.
  • In the second week, create fictional scenarios or stories: This thing happens, a situation arises: What do I do? How do I react? How will this work? Inventing and walking through an imaginary story should be tied to the scope of your business.
  • In the third week, bring the community together for a review of what you have done to this point. It keeps people connected and provides accountability. Make sure you keep the initial community alive and connected. You can get valuable input from others.

Comments:

  • Stories are really important for working out business ideas. Putting process into context through scenarios or stories helps people to put themselves into those situations and understand how things would work in a business situation. Then they will encourage people who actually go through things to share their stories with others so they can gain a better understanding.
  • Build your competencies while your financial input is still small - reduce your risk until you know what you are doing. In other words, keep your day job.
  • You will need to formulate a list of the competencies that you will require in order to do your work, both your own competencies and those of others outside your business (accountant, lawyers, other experts for referrals)


Competencies:

  • Design the scope of your business to evolve as you gain new competencies. Do this gradually, it will be less overwhelming. Your list should be time phased - what do I need to know for version 1.0 of my business, version 2.0, 3.0?
  • There are so many tasks that require competency that people don't even know about when they start a business. Are you going to acquire new skills or just walk away from it? Many businesses fail because people don't learn to build competencies or find other experts to help them.
  • Allow yourself the time to learn before you get over your head in financial complexities. A lot of the fundamental stuff needs to get done before you start your business and it's impossible to do that on the fly because you won't have the time to spend learning. You will be too busy just trying to keep your business up and running. Remember that learning is a continuing process that doesn't end.
  • A good knowledge base is helpful (the GG wiki is an example). How much do you share and how much do you keep private? Be intentional about this.

At end of this competency review and development phase, do another community review.


Product and Service Development:

At the end of this process, do another community review.


Operations: This comprises all of the things you have to think about on an operational level:

  • Accounting
  • Mail
  • Phone servies
  • Invoice methods
  • How to keep track of time
  • Reserve a URL
  • Attorneys and legal matters
  • Rates/Pricing
  • Hours of operation
  • Quality standards
  • Payment standards

During your trial period, you can see what works and doesn't work with these first test clients.

Go back to you ecosystem map, figure out who you're going to interact with and how and how often you will interact with them.

Another community review

Do a defining experience with 2 individuals, then 4 individuals. Then do a defining experience with a group. See how all of that goes and make adjustments as necessary.

Do another community review of the test cases (above) that you have done - share how things went with the group and get reaction and input from them.

Tom suggested that Adrienne join a professional group of animal behaviorists so she can learn about workshops and be subscribed to their journals.

Comments:

  • Software: release the minimum usable product as proof of concept. So if you're totally off base, you haven't invested so much that your losses will be great. Easier to re-do s simpler product.
  • Matt: putting the steps down clearly makes it easier to work through. good to know the foundation of things we have to be aware of, but also have a low risk proof of concept.

If you go through your initial (defining) proof of concept and find that there is A LOT of revision that needs to be done, then you can just go through this process again - start over.

1. Story 2. Meet clients 3. Hope your story matches the experience that you had with 2 first clients. If not, you need some revision to your process.

  • This process that breaks things into chunks, it's easier to manage and you can take care of them as needed.
  • Having this chart down helps to set you on your mission, gives you structure to follow, esp if you are working on your own. Keeps you on a schedule, working in a particular direction
  • Animal Intuition - It's really less about intuition and more about a real knowledge base for Adrienne.
  • Bob: You don't know what you don't know: if you don't go through this process you are putting yourself in serious risk. Also you aren't gonna realize how important it is to have that beta customer.

Earl: This process can be very dependent upon the individual (personality, past experience), but also, will there be a coach, a mentor? There are doers and thinkers. Some people like to do more of one than another. A coach could be really important to help a person through this process.

Dave Gao: you need other people's brains (thinking, experience) to help you through this process.

David Broner: Better to go partially through this process and then drop out mid way, rather than invest a bunch of money and time and lose it all. This process allows you to see whether you will be able to run your business or not. We realize that people will fail. It's part of life.


This whole process gives you an idea of where and how to start your business.