I don’t believe in business plans anymore.
Professor LaTanya White
Growth Mindset Coach and Business Development Expert
Professor LaTanya White is a growth mindset business coach for multicultural women and minority entrepreneurs. She helps them navigate through their confusion, fear, and insecurity to a place of clarity, confidence, and competence on their journey to Becoming FEARLESS- her proprietary (and wholistic) business development process.
Professor White has been featured in several media outlets including Ask.com, Essence Magazine, Florida A&M University magazine, Forbes.com and SiriusXM Radio.
Want to connect with Professor White? Find a time that works for you and plug yourself on to her calendar!
…and I haven’t believed in them since I traveled to Bali Indonesia to participate in the inaugural cohort for The Change School (formerly Change Ventures) in 2013. Change Ventures was a social entrepreneurship accelerator program that challenged the participants to go from idea to market in 30 days.
I write about one of the most impactful experiences of my life, one that truly oriented to me to what I feel is my life’s purpose, as a participant in that very first cohort in my first book, Becoming FEARLESS. The long and short of it is, anyone can easily accomplish this…with just a little bit of retraining.
As an advocate for Black and ethnic minority entrepreneurship, I have found that there are so many assumptions about what we think it takes to launch and grow a viable business idea- assumptions that our non-minority counterparts just don’t operate under.
Waiting to start your business until after you write a business plan is one of them!
Let’s face it: if you think your business idea has the possibility to change the way we move through the world and improve the quality of life for people around the world, can the world really afford to wait until you think your idea is perfect enough to ‘put it out there’? If that is the case, then you must be really comfortable with the idea of putting your purpose on hold as well. And if that’s the case, we need to talk!
Enough of me lecturing though :).
Since 2007, when I launched my first viable business, 71 Proof, through two years as a Certified Business Analyst with the Florida Small Business Development Center Network, to a decade of “teaching” entrepreneurship at a Historically Black College/University, to the rigorous design of doctoral-level research in Black entrepreneurship as a form of social justice…I’ve vetted a few business development resources along the way lol!
What you will find below are my go-to resources (in priority order) for launching and growing almost any business idea you have. I am a living witness that this can actually be done 30 days or less….it all just depends on how motivated, resourceful, and FEARLESS you are.
My goal is for you to walk away from our time together armed with the insight to develop the entrepreneurial skillset and entrepreneurial mindset that will allow you to go to your state’s business incorporation website and officially register your business!
Are you ready?? #letsgo
Follow this itinerary to start the journey to your entrepreneurial legacy.....
Step 1: Select Your Destination
Hopefully, you are building a business to solve a human need and with that, every step you take in designing your business is for your customers- not for yourself.
The first step in that process is to actually know who you are. The Center for Creative Leadership has developed an impactful to aid in this, called the Social Identity Map. This exercise helps you to articulate the different aspect- or identities- that make up who you are and knowing this about yourself will help you show up in the world in a more authentic way. Check out a comprehensive slide presentation on this concept here and create your own identity map based on the diagram in Slide 18.
Once you are able to fully articulate who you are and how you want to show up in the world, applying the concept of Human-Centered Design will help you understand how to create the solutions that people need and are willing to pay for. Using IDEO’s time-tested design-thinking principles, with a specific focus on the inspiration phase of the process, I encourage you to consider an Empathetic Business Design approach (Field Kit pages 1-67).
Step 2: Air vs. Ground
If your target audience gives you a 30,000-foot view of the type of people your business will serve, the Perfect Prospect Profile brings that down to a street-level view. This is where true connection happens- when people feel seen and understood by you and your business. Remember, no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care~ Teddy Roosevelt.
Following the outline of the worksheet referenced in the video below, type up your Perfect Prospect Profile in a document file so you can reference it in the future. Be sure to include highly emotional language like what you might find here.
Step 3: Plan A Bespoke Experience
Bespoke (adjective): Custom-made; dealing in or producing customized experiences
Now that you have a street-level of how your Prospect feels, prepare to take a deep dive into color meanings. Be able to discuss the history (if applicable) and what the color means in general. Make the connection between this background information and how it is important to your business.
The next aspect of this production is font selection. You will need to identify and select fonts that you will use for your headings, subheadings, and body of the different forms of content you and your team will create.
Based on the humanistic and emotional connection you should have with your future first customer, select the colors and fonts that would speak most to that Perfect Prospect (with the understanding that she or he represents your larger target audience). With the Canva Color Wheel, you can create and download your color palette with images of the specific colors and the relevant color numbers.
Include this palette in your company style guide. Use a blank Presentation template in Canva showcasing your fonts and specific colors. The slide(s) should include the business name, tagline the design elements that you would want in your logo. You can draw inspiration for those design elements by clicking on the Elements icon in Canva, which can be found on the left side of the screen whenever you are drafting any type of design in Canva.
One of the culminating aspects of this bespoke experience you are creating for your customers is your website. Donald Miller, author of Building a StoryBrand, suggests there are 5 things that every website should include. Sign up on his website to learn what they are for free! Your final deliverable is updating your website to incorporate each of those five things along with design elements of the brand kit that you have just created.
Step 4: Chart Your Path
With more than 20 years’ experience in business development, customer relationship management, integrated marketing communications and strategic pricing, I have found that the shortest distance between an idea and executing the idea is Business Model Canvas. The 20-minute video below translates the Business Model Generation concept so you can build your own in the creation of your Business Operations and Training Manual (BOTM). Think of this as “starting from the bottom…” You know the rest! Lol!
A finished BOM is a document file that incorporates your brand identity (color scheme, fonts and logo if available) and is the detailed, written version of your business model canvas.
Using design principles and free software like Canva, Easely, or Spark by Adobe, create an internal training document that does the following:
1) Documents your business’ commitment to building products and offering services that address the needs your customers have through Empathetic Business Design;
2) Paints the vision of the impact the business/organization will make based on your Brand Script;
3) Tells the story about the people you serve according to your Perfect Prospect Profile; and
4) Outlines in specific detail the way each aspect of the business should operate given your Business Model Generation.
You can even format it like a magazine and upload to Issuu when you are ready to bring on your first volunteers, interns, and employees!
Make sure that the cover page of your organization’s training manual is so visually enticing that someone wants to open it up and read it lol. While protecting the brand identity, it should be entertaining, inspiring and educational. Everything that you have done up until now (if you have incorporated these resources) should make this easy to do.
Step 5: It's Time For Take-Off
In preparing for take-off, your final hurdle will be a voice-over video pitch (think of it as an infomercial) based on Guy Kawaski’s The Art of the Start. Use this Pitch Deck Template to pitch the business idea that you are developing.
The visual elements and slides should be on-brand, with a color scheme and font that is consistent with the brand identity you previously created.
It should be no longer than 5 minutes in length and should end with a strong call to action. Make sure that your call to action is consistent with everything in the pitch that leads up to the call to action. For instance, if your Problem, Value Proposition, Underlying Magic, etc. slides are speaking mostly to your future customers, then your call to action to should speak to them and not potential investors. The direct call to action from your StoryBrand should fit seamlessly in this pitch.
Create an account on Loom.com to create a voice-over for your video pitch. You will want to do 2-3 run throughs to ensure that you master the technology and get your timing perfected, however, this should not require any editing of the final video.
Step 6: Build Your Dynasty
When you look in the mirror, do you see traces of your grandmother or grandfather in your own eyes? Do you have some of their personality quirks or spiritual features?
Would you happen to be the benefactor of their financial legacy? Did they have the chance to create one?
If you are a person of color, it is far more likely that your answer to the questions above is no.
Historical barriers to wealth accumulation for Black and African American people are well-documented in scholarly literature. From chattel slavery to the New Jim Crow- being considered property and thus denied the right to vote, denied access to mortgage loans to purchase homes, and employment discrimination- our grandparents, great-grandparents, and other ancestors did the best they could with the few resources they had. They managed to live and love through the pain and trauma of racism.
Right now, you and I, are writing the future. When someone asks these same questions to your grandchildren- Did your grandparents create for you? – they will be able to answer in the affirmative.
A lot of people talk about legacies and empires but legacies fade and empires fall. An entrepreneurial dynasty, by definition, is one where the business (think the Walton’s) or the wealth from the business (think: Rockefeller’s) has been maintained and controlled in by the family for three consecutive generations.
That takes planning. That doesn’t just happen.
Understand that every decision you make in your business and in your life can either build up or tear down your grandchildren’s dynasty.
Do you have dynastic intent? How will you #buildyourdynasty?