• Greg Twemlow - Business Coach - How to Start a Business

  • About

    Greg Twemlow is an accomplished CEO, combining technical depth with business savvy & creative flair and an ability to think analytically. Skilled at making decisions based on both deep data analysis and market intuition, and at a speed to match business needs. Video - Break the habit of rushing into solution mode


    LEAN Hacking Canvas by Greg Twemlow

    Rigorously Tested

    If you aren't currently a Founder, put yourself in the position of wanting to start a company.


    You may have been reading about LEAN Startup methodology, watching the many instructional videos, playing around with Experiment Board, Value Proposition Canvas, Business Model Canvas and numerous other tools.


    You might be joining Webinars, attending LEAN MeetUps & conferences, spending time with a mentor and generally receiving plenty of advice. You're probably trying to absorb the wisdom of gurus like Steve Blank, Ash Maurya & Eric Ries and you may have discovered Clay Christensen, Anita Newton, Justin Wilcox and Grace Ng.


    And there is a fair chance that you are spending so much time studying all this content that you find yourself going slightly crazy and not making the kind of progress with your venture that you want to.


    Being involved as I am in the Startup scene in Sydney, San Francisco and Wellington I get a wonderful opportunity to observe Founder behavior and attitudes in all three countries and by and large there's not much difference - the common theme is that the ever growing body of LEAN Startup science has evolved to become very confusing and often a serious distraction to the primary task of getting your Startup started.


    My sense is that there is a real need to take this vast body of LEAN knowledge, methodologies & science and provide a simplified pathway that is more readily understood and followed. It's why I have devised the LEAN Hacking™ canvas and training workshop.


    If you go back about ten years when Steve Blank started pitching the tech world on LEAN, it was really based on a very simple and clear proposition that startups had to validate assumptions about customer needs and the ONLY way to do that was 'to get out of the building'. A quite perfect distillation of everything he'd learned as an entrepreneur and investor. Steve basically said, "if you don't get out of the building there's a 90% probability your startup will fail".


    Over the past ten years Steve's simple premise has evolved, extended and expanded until today where the LEAN Startup movement is a complex science that has launched many consulting careers. Each of the three key stages of LEAN as espoused by Ash Maurya - Problem/Solution Fit, Product/Market Fit and Scale have become complex multi-faceted parts of LEAN Startup science.


    The point I make is illustrated perfectly by the Innovator's Roadmap created by Ash. You can print this on an A3 sheet and struggle to read the font. Fully comprehending and being trained using the map is a labor of love that could totally absorb a Founder for months of dedicated work. Meanwhile how is the Founder's Startup progressing ?


    What I have become aware of is that LEAN Startup has ironically evolved to become an overly complex process that is quite overwhelming. So, I'd like to offer an alternative model that I believe is more grounded in the realities of Startup life. Founders are already under enormous pressure and have a myriad of concurrent tasks and challenges. Adopting my LEAN Hacking™ canvas is the best chance to either fail-fast or succeed but the pathway has to be easily grasped and followed.


    The Minimum Viable Canvas© is a simpler way to start until there is repeatable traction, i.e. the Founder can prove that the value proposition cycle is repeatable and acceptable to customers who are prepared to pay to have their job done. Instructions on how to use the canvas are here or visit the website.

    Startup Teaser by Greg Twemlow

    Explain your startup in 1 page

    The Discipline of Explaining Your Startup in 1 Page

    You need a teaser—and you need it for a few reasons.


    A teaser isn’t a deck. A teaser is a one-page summary that outlines the business opportunity for investors. No more than one page, no less. It’s not a sales pitch or a financial projection — it’s one page that tells investors why they should care about your idea.


    Whenever an aspiring founder runs me through an intriguing concept, I ask them to write a teaser. I don’t hear back from most of them, because writing one is harder than it seems. I’m not always gunning to invest in the company, but I ask to see if they’re capable of creating one — if they know how to distill their idea into its clearest, most attractive form.


    Simply putting a one-page constraint on the document makes it a challenge. If entrepreneurs can’t write a teaser, it raises questions on their conviction about the opportunity and the amount of research they’ve done to back up the strategy. Plenty of people talk about doing a startup, but not everyone walks the walk and does the work required to get their idea out there.


    Why You Need A Teaser


    It creates your foundation. Think of the teaser as an executive summary written in complete sentences and paragraphs. A teaser forces you to think clearly about your idea and identify why it’s different. It’s a concise expression of your idea that requires proper syntax and grammar, so don’t use bullet points. A lot of entrepreneurs don’t understand what the word “teaser” implies. A teaser is only designed to get you a call. It’s your shot at getting an investor on the phone so you can present your idea in more detail.


    Think of it like your profile on a dating app. A teaser is meant to say, “Hey, I’m an attractive venture, and I think you should take a look. If you agree, let’s talk.” You’ve only got one page to get them hooked, so you have to make your idea stand out.


    Contact the Startup Teaser designer, Greg Twemlow, to ask questions or provide feedback: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gregtwemlow or visit https://www.startupteaser.com/

    Goals Playbook by Greg Twemlow

    “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” — Peter Drucker

    “Nothing will fill your heart with a greater sense of regret than lying on your deathbed knowing that you did not live your life and do your dreams.” — Robin Sharma


    If you want to achieve your goals, you'll need to learn to focus and plan. None of the areas of your life will be optimized if you don’t focus. People prefer comfort to change, and as a result, anything that disrupts their routine gets labeled as bad. Yet, more often than not, change is only as good or bad as the response to it. You may not be able to control where the future directs you, but you can defend against it.”, Greg Twemlow, December 2017


    Time? Time is our most irreplaceable asset — we cannot buy more of it. We cannot get a second of it back. We can only hope to waste as little as possible. Yet somehow we treat it as most renewable of all resources. If you don’t have a guiding purpose, you’ll be aimless with your time. If you have a true goal, something that is extremely valuable to you, and that you believe to be very important, ONLY THEN can you begin to properly value and use your time. The Goals Playbook© by Greg Twemlow is a way to deal with change and give you the context for thinking about what you want to achieve and how your time is used. It’s designed to help you think about the year ahead, although it can be easily adapted to address short term goals or specific strategic objectives - personal or corporate.


    I’m a firm believer in distilling concepts down to a page, even though it may end up being an A3 or larger page. The Goals Playbook© is formatted to make it very easy to share everything you know today in order to gather input from the people you want to involve in designing your future. It works for just you alone, for one-on-one with a mentor or for a group in a workshop setting. In a workshop you may decide to have a large A0 sheet for each of the 9 cells stuck to the walls of the room and to then summarize those sheets into the Playbook. Perfect for a team building exercise.


    Goals Playbook© is a tool that enables structure and simplicity in developing plans. Use it in
    a workshop designed to help people create their plan (personal or business) for the next year, a single strategic objective, a financial goal, a desired sporting performance or really anything that can make an impact on your life. It works for any age group too and is a great device to introduce young people to the concept of planning to achieve a goal. It also lends itself to a review process at a future date, e.g. check it quarterly to assess progress or check in 12 months and review how well you did. In a work context the Goals Playbook© could be used by managers to help their direct reports develop a personal Playbook that is aligned to the overall corporate objectives. The use-cases are literally endless.


    Visit the Goals Playbook website

  • Apply the KISS principle to LEAN Startup.

    The Minimum Viable Canvas© is ideal for disruptors, entrepreneurs and enterprise innovation teams who need to rapidly validate assumptions before developing products.


    “To disrupt a world in constant change you are better to follow a (LEAN) compass than a detailed map. The LEAN Hacking™ Minimum Viable Canvas© and training workshop validate new venture decisions faster than any other LEAN tool.” – Greg Twemlow

    The YIN-YANG of IDEA-SOLUTION by Greg Twemlow

    Minimum Viable Canvas Workshop

    A Faster Way to Validate New Venture Ideas

    The Discipline of Innovation

    One of the most pernicious myths in innovation is that it is fundamentally a challenge of creativity. If we can only help our people be more creative, then the innovation will flow. Framed this way, innovation becomes an attribute. It becomes something innate and phenomenological. We can only set the right conditions (cue the loft space, denim and other ritual objects) and hope it happens. This is when we start calling for that “culture” of innovation.

    Instead, if we frame innovation as a challenge of discipline—of learning to use the right methods, tools and approaches at the right times—then we quickly focus on very different imperatives:

    We become students of innovation: We don’t expect someone without training to build a discounted cash flow model or develop a marketing segmentation. Nor would we expect someone new to an industry to already understand its structure and dynamics. So why do we expect our colleagues and leaders to suddenly manifest an ability to innovate? And why don’t we expect them to study innovation systematically—both the methods they should apply in different contexts (e.g., when to use lean and agile methods vs. design methods) as well as meaningful innovations in the surrounding landscape (e.g., what can we learn from companies like Uber)? Like any other business function or discipline, innovation has tradecraft that we can learn, practice and hone.

    We measure methods and results: When we start seeing innovation as a discipline, then we also start focusing on what works and what doesn’t—and we set goals and measure results. This doesn’t mean we start asking for a 5-year financial projection two weeks into an initiative. It does mean paying attention to which inputs yield better outputs; did our time spent brainstorming in a room yield better ideas (doubtful), or did spending the same time studying our customers? We start reviewing our efforts, spotting where we made critical breakthroughs and where we missed key insights. This should be the point of “celebrating failure,” which, if we’re honest, is a silly thing to celebrate for its own virtue. We make sure we salvage all possible learning, and see how it can improve both our current business and our innovation capabilities. We also look across the range of innovation initiatives underway, and ask if they’re collectively addressing the right issues. Do they have the right balance of risk and likely return, and are we dedicating enough resources (time, money and people) to them?

    We make innovation obligatory rather than optional: Finally, if we can see innovation as a discipline, then we can start demanding it from our organization. We can hold our team and business unit leaders accountable for sponsoring innovation initiatives, and charge our bright, high potential employees with developing. Some of the most powerful innovators in history, ranging from GE to Honda to Google, have connected involvement in innovation initiatives to career development, incentives and promotion—because innovation is what they expect from their future leaders. Innovation also becomes an investment that we start funding programmatically, instead of scraping budget dollars together each quarter, because it’s vital to the ongoing health and success of our business. We stop hoping innovation will happen and start requiring it from each other and ourselves.

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