Two paths to business-plan creation

Each week, Symposium provides a blogging forum for the week’s featured article. This week’s author is Prof. Linda Essig. You can read her blog here and follow her on Twitter @LindaInPhoenix.I had a minor epiphany about what I teach — arts entrepreneurship — as I met yesterday with an independent study student, on the first day of the semester. This student had taken my Foundations of Arts Entrepreneurship class last spring. For her capstone project, she wants to develop a business plan for a niche-market fashion enterprise.

At first I gave her the choice of using either a “lean canvas” method of business-model generation or a more traditional business plan, such as one would submit when applying for a business loan at a bank. I realized that these two formats for expressing business intent exemplify the contrast between networked and linear thinking described in my article.

The lean canvas asks a team of people to generate business ideas by synthesizing nine “blocks” of information into a central value proposition. The business plan asks an entrepreneur to walk a potential investor step-by-step through their venture from value proposition to operational plans to financial projections.

As my student and I were talking, I realized that, much as students in a classroom need to exercise both slow and fast learning, the student entrepreneur needs to exercise the networked and linear thinking necessary for the generative/creative and the predictive/technical forms of business communication. Not either/or, but both.

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