My POEM Framework is being used by an increasing number of entrepreneurs and startups as a guide to answering the question “Where do I start?” especially if I really want to get my start-up funded. Personally, I’m a big fan of Eric Ries Lean Startup and the “Build, Measure, Learn” process which is evolving as I write thanks to the likes of Steve Blank.
However the question of what exactly it is that you’re building, measuring and learning should start with some old-fashioned thinking about what you see in the future – YOUR VISION! I mean taking yourself through a process that recognises you’re preparing to build a business (and that’s exactly what your startup is!) that can change the world!
It is critical to begin with a think-through of the journey you are starting on while you’re still a startup! (get it?) Because once you’ve started, while you might evolve, pivot and scale you’re never going to get to start the same company again.
Every successful founder has a vision of the potential inherent in their company’s future and what they imagine it could be. That vivid compelling imagination of something you desire to bring to life in anticipation of commercial gain. Your first challenge as an entrepreneur is to be able to share that vision in a way that shows how you are solving a problem, creating economic value and making an impact on the market you have chosen to serve.
The result of this thought process is a vision statement that you can share with everyone your startup comes in touch with, from your co-founders (who may help construct the statement) to employees, investors and customers.
There’s no set plan for vision statements which can be short like Bill Gates’s vision of “A computer in every home” on which he built Microsoft or longer like Jeff Bezos vision for Amazon “to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” It’s really what YOU feel comfortable owning as a description of the future you want to see for your company. Tom Wright does a great job in his blog on “How to write a good vision statement” if you need help.
So think through the answer to these three questions:
- What exactly is the problem you are solving and why does it exist?
- How and for who does your solution to the problem create value?
- What impact will its availability make in their lives (business or personal)?
The answers will tell you if you really have a vision for your startup.
“Use Technology Better”
Harry ’Tomi Davies (TD) is an IT Systems Expert. His professional career began at IBM and includes executive roles at Elf Aquitaine, Marks & Spencer, Ernst & Young and Sapient. A systems analysis graduate from the University of Miami, TD has published numerous articles on IT Business management and technology-enabled learning. He is a co-author of business best-sellers “Corporate Bold”, “Cracking the Success Code” and author of “The African Project Manager”. He is board director and advisor to a broad range of companies including Berkshire Rooms, Sproxil Nigeria, Strika Entertainment, BaaS Technologies, MBO Capital, TextNigeria and TechnoVision Communications. Though he lives and works mostly in the UK, his focus in the last decade has been on technology-based entrepreneurship in Africa where he invests, mentors and focuses on developing an ecosystem of technology start-ups around co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators, angel funding, VC Capital, entrepreneur capacity development, state and national government policies. TD volunteers to a number of non-profit organisations and is a guest lecturer at the Pan Atlantic University's Enterprise Development Centre. He is an angel investor with a growing portfolio of tech-enabled businesses that originate from Africa. He is the founder of the Lagos Angel Network and President of the African Business Angels Network (ABAN).