Top positive review
6 people found this helpful
Panic Early! Panic Often! Avoid the Rush!
on December 3, 2011
Let's dispense with the obvious first. For we, the startup practitioners, biz models are mostly a waste of time. Early-stage models that predict success are almost universally wrong, due to their happy-happy-joy-joy ("h2j2") inputs. The ones that predict failure are probably correct. But, we already knew that we were going out of business as soon as we got in, right? The best you can really hope for is some sort of "How bad is it, Doctor?" analysis. Much better for us to focus on product, customers, and execution. Let us recall again the words of St. Edison who informs us that our "genius" (including the planning/modeling part) is worth no more than 1%, the other 99% being sweat. In my experience, blood, tears, and various other pinkish bodily fluids also come into play. And don't forget that we require a certain amount of good luck, which models very poorly (see h2j2 above).
But enough with the pep talk. If biz models are mere peripheral artifacts, why bother with them at all? You could say that although it might be quite foggy, it's still a really dumb idea to drive with your eyes closed. Even if biz models are not of much use as roadmaps, they do work fairly well as caution signs. Viewed in that light, I found this guide and model to be a helpful, practical, and mercifully brief distillation of a very tedious subject. Given the limited value of doing a model in the first place, this has to be one of the most thankless topics possible and I commend the author for taking a shot. Although reducing biz modeling to a spreadsheet and a guide may seem audaciously simplistic, sometimes all that is really needed is a reasonable frame of reference and a tangible starting point. Anything that gets we the practitioners from "Start" to "Good Enough" in short order will be a welcome addition to our toolboxes. I believe that this guide will accomplish that end for many.
I'm giving the guide 5 stars because I found it to be generally complete and usable as-is. It did what it said it would and covered most of the use cases I was personally interested in. I especially liked the extra focus on lightweight SaaS startups and hope that will continue in future versions. I'm reviewing the Kindle version which I read on a Fire. A few of the denser spreadsheet diagrams towards the end of the guide were a little fuzzy when zoomed, but were still readable and I hd the spreadsheet itself to consult. I did not encounter any other usability issues. A possible negative is that extensive tweaking of the model spreadsheet is not going to be easy for Excel n00bcakes, but I'm guessing the intended audience will be able to sort it out.
So, 1-click the guide and build your model. If it says you're toast, take action, whether it's changing products, schedules, or even markets. Predicting trouble is its biggest practical benefit, so make use of it. If the model says you're in great shape and you can't locate and expunge the h2j2, just ignore it till the next monthly review and go back to doing great things for your customers. Good things come to those who panic early, often, and avoid the rush! :)