Quick Start

Tool KitQuick StartI need buy-in

I need buy-in

Looking to gain the support and engagement of your stakeholders? Start here! These tools will help put you on the right path.

Cultivate

Rapid Prototyping

You don’t know if an idea will work until you try it — that’s where Rapid Prototyping comes in.

It’s a quick and dirty way to test out your idea to better understand what works and what needs work.

A prototype can be made of anything — it can be a block of wood to stand in for a new design for a phone, a skit to act out how a new service would work, or a hand-drawn storyboard that maps out each step in a new app.

Think about what your idea is all about and test it with something tangible for people to react to.

Three Steps for Rapid Prototyping

  1. Experiment with different ways to make your idea real. There is rarely one way to express your idea to others. Here are some ideas: Tell a story, perform it, draw your idea, build it, create a comic strip, or make a collage.
  2. Unveil your prototype and share it with as many people as you can. Get their feedback! What works? What could be better?
  3. Make the changes you hear from your users. Then, repeat the process!

Create

Unique Value Proposition

Developing your Unique Value Proposition will help you clearly articulate what sets your idea apart.

This statement of how your product or service will benefit your customer is critical to your business model and arguably the most important element of your overall messaging.

Before you can begin persuading others to get behind your idea, you need to define simply and succinctly what makes your idea unique. Once you nail your value proposition, your potential users will understand why they should do business with you.

Five Steps to Developing Your Unique Value Proposition

  1. Clarify your target customer. Find out everything you can about who you’re targeting and what their problems are.
  2. Identify what problem your product or service solves for the customer.
  3. List the benefits your product or service offers.
  4. Think about what differentiates your product or service and why you are uniquely positioned to offer this value.
  5. Once you’ve gotten this information down on paper, you are ready to create a clear, compelling value proposition by plugging your points into a Value Positioning Statement template. There are many templates out there, and our worksheet features one of the most popular.

Unique Value Proposition

Ready to write your own Unique Value Proposition? Check out our worksheet to get started.

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Resource Accessment

To get any idea off the ground, you’ll need a good idea of the partnerships you can count on and the resources you can leverage. A Resource Assessment will help get you there.

There are two key considerations to keep in mind as you make your assessment:

  • Who are your partners?
  • What is the scale of your project?

Four Steps to a Successful Resource Assessment

  1. Make a list of people, both within your organization and outside of it, who can help move particular pieces of your idea forward. For example, if the idea involves your brand, get the branding committee behind it.
  2. Meet with the people you identified to discuss your idea — ask what they love about the idea and what they think you should build on to improve it — and then create an action plan. The key here is to start building relationships and collecting feedback from these essential people.
  3. Next, you’ll need to consider the scale of your project and where you will need to seek help. Do you have the resources internally, or will you need to hire additional team members? Make a list of the different tasks that need to be completed.
  4. Then, assign who will be responsible for each task to determine gaps. Consider skill set and bandwidth.

Elevator Pitching

An elevator pitch is a short, pre-rehearsed speech that tells your story in a succinct, persuasive way.

A good elevator pitch should be snappy and compelling and last no longer than 30 seconds. In fact, the shorter, the better!

Share your story even if there are areas of your idea that still need to be developed. After pitching, think about people’s first impressions and what questions they pose. Make sure you are clear on those answers and wrap that information into your future pitching.

Tips for Elevator Pitching

  • Make it memorable. There are several ways to accomplish this:
    • Communicate your excitement. People will remember your passion even if they don’t remember exactly what you say.
    • Include key facts and figures as appropriate… data is convincing.
    • Have a business card ready. Giving a business card or other takeaway item will help your listener remember you and your message.
  • Practice, practice, practice. You want your pitch to sound natural and authentic, like a smooth conversation, not an aggressive sales pitch. Like anything else, practice makes perfect, so practice regularly.
  • Be mindful of your body language as you talk. What we don’t say is as important as what we do say and conveys just as much information as our words.
  • Know your audience and speak to them. Remember, your listener is hearing this for the first time and should feel like you’re engaging in a natural, two-way conversation.

Elevator Pitching

Ready to write a compelling Elevator Pitch? Use this worksheet as a guide.

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Storytelling

Storytelling is arguably the most powerful tool in your toolbox. You can sell anything to anyone with a great story!

Knowing when and how to tell stories is a powerful skill that will immediately boost your effectiveness.

Storytelling is about communicating your vision to find backers and champions. Every story you tell should include a narrative, visuals, and data to explain your idea and engage your listeners.

As you share your story, incorporate positive, constructive feedback and real-world examples to make it meaningful and relevant to your audience.

Tips for Powerful Storytelling

Put your story, not your features, first. Focus on how you want your audience to feel. Rather than overwhelming your listeners with details about your product features, provide evidence of the value they will get out of it. Don’t make them figure it out. Be direct and tell your audience why your product matters to them.

  1. Craft your narrative. Talk about the need your idea fills, how the idea came to you, and the personal connection that makes your idea so important.
  2. Design your visuals. Your visual might be pictures of your product or of people using your service. It can also be a prototype of your product or service. If there’s something critical for your audience to understand, show it to them!
  3. Weave in your data. Think about what key facts and figures will influence your audience. What will shock your audience and get them to take notice of something significant about the space you’re working in? Include it!
  4. Pull it all together. Consider what kind of format will work best (e.g., pamphlet, a website, a presentation, or a book) to show your audience exactly what you want them to take away from your presentation.

Business Case

A Business Case spells out the strengths of your idea and helps you gain the traction and support to bring it to life.

It defines the core business benefit of a project to justify the cost of the initiative and it illustrates how the project aligns with strategic goals in your organization and the benefits your project will deliver to the organization and your stakeholders.

The most time-consuming parts of the exercise are gathering supporting information and taking the time to think over each element. Writing it down should be easy by comparison…after all, you’re writing a business case, not poetry!

Tips for Building a Business Case

  • Identify and quantify the ways your idea will either increase revenue or decrease costs.
  • Avoid jargon and keep the language simple — your audience may not have detailed knowledge of your subject area.
  • Tell your story in the order that makes the most sense. Just be sure all of the key information is included and it’s easy to read.
  • Include an executive summary if your business case is more than a couple of pages long. This may be the only part of your document a busy executive reads!

When you’re done, your Business Case should accomplish the following:

  1. Present your challenge clearly, describing the problem you’re trying to solve or the business opportunity your idea will create.
  2. Identify all possible solutions, including alternatives to your idea. When doing so, include the benefits, costs, time-scale, and risks.
  3. Illustrate that your idea is the right answer by comparing all possible solutions. Once you’ve weighed the costs and benefits of each approach, it should be evident that your idea is the best way to move forward.
  4. Describe your approach in detail. Show your stakeholders that you’ve thought through the project from start to finish and have a practical path to implementation.
  5. Leave a positive impression of yourself and the business case you’re proposing. When closing your business case, be sure to remind stakeholders why it’s important to address the problem, why your proposal is the best way to address the problem, and what you want stakeholders to do next.

Business Case

Ready to build your Business Case? Use this worksheet as a guide.

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Business Model Canvas

At its core, a Business Model Canvas is a one-page business plan.

It lays out what you do and how you will go about doing it, and it captures key questions around revenue streams, key partnerships, and resources.

It’s okay if there are some areas you don’t have answers to. After all, you may still be sorting through your business plan. The Business Model Canvas tool helps keep group discussions more focused and creates opportunities to describe, design, challenge, and shift your business model.

Three Steps to Creating Your Business Model Canvas

  1. Start with your Unique Value Proposition in the center. Then continue building out with the boxes you do have answers for. Everything should tie back to your value proposition — this helps keep the focus on your main goal. Check out the Business Model Canvas worksheet for an example.
  2. To innovate your Business Model, take another look at what you’ve written in each box and think about how you might change that. For example, how could you change your revenue model to a subscription model? What other customer segments are untapped?
  3. Add notes with keywords to each building block of the canvas. If you use sticky notes, you can move ideas around as you fill out each building block in the canvas.

Business Model Canvas

It’s your turn! Create your own Business Model Canvas. Use this worksheet to guide you.

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Piloting

Piloting is a test period that typically lasts several months and assesses your product or service on a small scale.

It’s a critical go-to-market step because it keeps you from making a large investment before you know if your product or service will be a viable option.

During a pilot, you test the entire system to find out if it works the way you envisioned and to make minor tweaks and gather insight about what works well and what needs further work.

Quick Tip:

  • Don’t make too many changes at once… it may become harder to know what’s working and what isn’t.

Five Keys to Piloting

  1. Make sure you are clear on your goals and objectives. Keep your end goal in mind and make sure you know how to measure your success.
  2. Decide how long your pilot will run. It’s important to use the product or service as it will be used in actuality and also to allow time to test additional use cases.
  3. The pilot group will become an essential resource if you decide to expand the use of your product, so choose a group that is large enough to provide sufficient feedback and small enough that it’s not overwhelming.
  4. Set your pilot up for success by providing the group with robust, ongoing training and resources throughout the pilot.
  5. A pilot is an opportunity to find out what worked and what didn’t and to troubleshoot issues as they come up. Create opportunities for your participants to give you feedback throughout the pilot.

Piloting

Use this worksheet as a guide in your Piloting.

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