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Coolest Business Plan /Brainstorm Tool Ever!

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For those who are regular readers, you know that I don’t believe in business plans. In my own case, when I started my firm, even my best predictions suggested that I’d go belly up in three months and had I memorialized my reality in a business plan, I’d never have had the nerve to launch.  But even for those with more sanguine futures, it’s all too easy to fall prey to analysis paralysis, endlessly writing and refining and plotting a plan.

Still, having said that, I find that it’s useful to put something down on paper.  The  Starting a Law Firm Calculator that I developed for MyShingle is helpful, but it basically focuses on the minutia and costs of anticipated revenue and expenses rather than the big picture. But yesterday, in preparing a presentation on starting a law practice, I came across this fantabulous tool, Essentially, it’s an online platform that lets you create a canvas for a business model, lean start-up or a SWOT Analysis. To me, Lean Start Up (which I mentioned here seemed most analogous, and I threw together the above dummy diagram just to give an example of how it might look.  The service is free and you simply fill in the blanks right on line – an elegant and fun tool.  The uses aren’t limited to just starting a firm – you could play around with Canvarise to plan the launch of a new niche or suite of virtual offerings.

  • Cooper Lord

    Where is the link for the “dummy diagram”? I’m not seeing it.

  • myshingle

    It was left out of the post – it’s going up in a minute.


  • As I’ve commented before on this blog, I think business plans are a good idea.  Call me “sanguine.” But I’ve read Solo By Choice cover-to-cover and I do recall a recommendation you made in that book (easily the best book in print on the topic of opening a solo practice) recommending a business plan. Did I misread?

  • Bradley B. Clark

    Carolyn: The Business Model Canvas is a tool that was developed and presented in the excellent book Business Model Canvass. Your readers can find more information about the methodology at the Business Model Generation’s website and download the actual Canvas here. I read the book in two days and then went back and re-read it with the Canvas printed out and a pencil in hand. Readers can also follow #BMGEN on Twitter for more information. 

  • myshingle

    I have that book -love it! But for some reason I didn’t make the connection between the canvas and what I remembered about the book so I went back and took a look and yes, the template is in there. I love that book more than any law-related business development book I ever read. Thanks for the note!

  • myshingle

    Hi Alex – Thanks for your comments. In Solo by Choice, I did recommend some kind of simple business plan just to get something on paper; not necessarily anything really formal or extensive. I also discussed pros and cons of both. For some people business plans work well but for others they can discourage. But I think this tool is a good compromise to get some ideas down on paper that can be further refined. The SWOT analysis is also a good way to think about business plannING

  • Bradley B. Clark

    I love it too and I think it is an excellent tool for all lawyers to use whether starting a practice or analyzing new business models in their existing practice. The Apple iTunes example in the book is a perfect illustration of the canvas. I also agree with you that business plans are worthless. The process of writing one is useful but the plan itself is worthless. The BMGEN Canvas is a much, much more useful tool but I think having the book is a critical component. I would love to see what a group of us lawyers would come up with using the Canvas to disrupt the delivery of legal services.

  • I agree the process can be scary. What I think is important, though, beyond some kind of cash flow analysis (aka “how much do I have to collect to pay the rent”) is consideration of market differentiation. Particularly in an over saturated market like California, how am I going to set myself apart from all of the other employment lawyers out there. This requires considerable brain-storming.

  • Jbazan

    SWOT is getting changed to SLOC:  Strengths, Limitations, Opportunities, Challenges.

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