There’s No 1-Size-Fits-All Startup Checklist …But There is a Business Model

On the first day of Randy Wimmer’s nonlinear programming class in graduate school, he braced for shock. Once their class got settled in, his professor very quietly said, “non-linear programming is hard. That’s why we’re not going to do it. What we’re going to do in this class is to learn how to avoid it. We’re going to take nonlinear problems and turn them into problems that are much easier to solve.” He was right. They learned how to turn nonlinear problems into linear ones that could be easily (this is a relative term, mind you!) solved.

Randy hasn’t solved a linear or nonlinear problem since graduate school; however, he has made a very good living using his nonlinear programming professor’s strategy. He takes hard, intimidating problems and turns them into easier ones. To do this, he frequently uses a business model to guide my actions.  The one that he uses is called the DADDEE model, but any legitimate business model or framework will work.  The important thing is that you are following a structured approach. Just so you know, DADDEE is an acronym that stands for Dream, Analysis, Define, Develop, Execute and Evaluate.

So why is a business model or framework so important for entrepreneurship?  Here’s the answer.  There is not a single, repeatable path to business success. Here’s some friendly advice. If somebody tells you that there is, simply walk away. Actually, run! If there was a single, well-worn path to entrepreneurial success, then wouldn’t there be a million signs pointing the way? Wouldn’t everyone simply mosey down this path to riches?

Each customer, service, product, contract, and personal situation is different. Even if Randy tried to launch a carbon-copy of his previous companies, he could follow the same path to find success. Things change.

Instead of telling you to drop your line in the exact same spot where Randy caught a fish, it’s much more effective to discuss how to fish.  Why? You can’t catch the same fish that Randy caught. The fish that Randy caught is already mounted on his wall.  Every entrepreneur must find their own fish and a structured business model or framework can help you do exactly that.

A structured business model helps you break down seemingly impossible tasks into bite-size activities.  It gives you a place to start. In its simplest form, using a business model is a thought process. It’s thinking before jumping. Committing to this thought process can help you attain your ideal weight, complete a marathon, or turn your “fixer-upper” into your dream home.

More than likely, a few readers are giving this last statement the “eye roll.” How can some business model help me achieve my dreams? Let’s address your very reasonable skepticism here.

Following a business framework, like the DADDEE Model, helps you think through complex challenges and turn them into easier, do-able tasks. However, it is also equally effective in identifying hidden obstacles that prevent you from achieving seemingly “simple” goals. Frequently, goals appear to be straightforward and easily achievable, but aren’t. It’s easy to discount, ignore, or even not notice the complexities hidden within “simple goals.”

Have you ever tried to lose weight and failed? What is simpler than losing weight? Just consume fewer calories than you burn. Yet, with such an easy solution, our country is somehow facing an obesity epidemic. It appears extremely straightforward until you really dissect the challenges, using even a simple business framework.

A very simple, structured approach, such as the “5-Whys” tool, can help shed insights into some of the real challenges. To use this tool, think of yourself as that inquisitive toddler who constantly asks “why?” and do this at least five times.

Why did you fail to lose weight the last time you tried?  I couldn’t control my hunger at night and splurged on unhealthy snacks.

Why did you splurge at night?  Because I’m really hungry before I go to bed at 11pm.

Why did you eat unhealthy snacks?  Because it was all I had in the pantry.

Why were you so hungry?  Because I eat dinner at 4:30pm on my way home from work.

Why did you eat dinner so early?  Because I eat my lunch at 10:30 at my desk, so I can work out during my lunch break.

Using this simple structured approach could easily be the difference between sticking with a diet and succumbing to late-night munchies. Here’s how. Let’s address each identified challenge with a bite-size solution. Of course, this clever pun is intended!

  1. Adjust your bedtime earlier and go to sleep before the munchies hit.
  2. Eat dinner later to help you make it to your bedtime without cheating.
  3. Remove unhealthy snacks from your home and replace them with healthier, lower-calorie snacks, in case you do need a little help to make it to bedtime.
  4. Eat your lunch during your actual lunch break to make it easier to have a later dinner.
  5. Do your workout in the evening after your dinner to keep your mind off eating.

Nothing is ever as easy or hard as it first appears. Having a methodology, framework, or business model that you’re committed to using will help you succeed with your “easy” dreams while giving you an approach to tackle the “hard” ones, like launching a startup!