Entering the business on the right foot

Isabele Chevalier, ex-CEO of probiotics brand Bio-K+ International and currently strap on the show on Radio-Canada. (Photo: courtesy)

ENTER THE BUSINESS. We will no longer go into business in 2021 like in 2011, note the specialists in the field. Both methods and tools have radically changed in the meantime.

“Ten years ago, the Bible was the business plan,” recalled Déborah Cherenfant, regional director of the Women Entrepreneurs segment of TD Bank Group and president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Montreal. “It hasn’t been taught in years,” confirms Luis Cisneros, full professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at HEC Montréal. It’s just a language to communicate with investors, but it’s not recommended. Just because, as its name suggests, it’s a plan, and you can’t plan change. »

For them the business model canvas is a more suitable start -up tool. It summarizes the business model on one page and nine boxes to fill in, providing an overview of the company’s future.

Currently, what comes first in terms of launch is largely customer strategy. “The first hypothesis to test when starting a business is desirable,” Luis Cisneros said. In other words, is there a market, people willing to pay for what you offer? Feasibility and profitability will come then, as the team is developed and the pivots needed to refine the business model. »

Looking for Feedback

“My number one advice is to dive in as soon as possible to start a loop of testing and feedback with your potential customers; we should not seek perfection, but feedback, ”confirmed Liette Lamonde, Executive Director of Fondation Montréal inc. at Bonjour Startup Montreal. He recalls that one of the big risks was to “love your solution and do it for a long time without making sure it meets a real need”.

The co-founder of the Heyday talking platform-which was just bought on Hootsuite for $ 60 million-, Steve Desjarlais agrees. He remembers his beginnings, when he surveyed downtown Montreal with his companions. “We built a prototype and we asked passers-by, which allowed us to collect user feedback, which led us to develop the product we know today,” he said.

“We don’t have to build a prototype anymore,” Luis Cisneros said. Instead, we are talking about showing the minimum value of the proposal. The man who is also a scientific director of the Entrepreneurship Pole at HEC Montréal gives the example of America’s cloud storage service Dropbox, which started with a standard video of a few minutes showing the solution he was considering. This is enough to measure demand: in one day, 75,000 people are registered on the waiting list for this product in the future!

This kind of approach to confronting the accelerated market is also directly inspired by the digital world, “but valid for all types of projects”, Liette Lamonde assured. He gave the example of an entrepreneur who wanted to make luxury handbags. “We took him to the shops that sell them so he could show his prototype to the people who came out, describing the general manager. Just by doing that, he learned a lot about his market.»

No standard profile

Isabèle Chevalier, ex-CEO of the Bio-K+ International probiotics brand and current strap on the show on Radio-Canada, insists on the notion of vision. “It takes more than one idea to get started: having a vision is knowing what you really want to be able to do,” he explains. Of course, you will never get all the answers in the beginning, but it is important to understand the intention behind your business. Here we sit to develop our plans and our business models. »

Luis Cisneros is formal: anyone can be an entrepreneur. According to statistics, coming from a family of entrepreneurs, having a solid educational background, having an extensive network or even holding Canadian citizenship all constitute enabling elements. “But even if everyone doesn’t leave with the same opportunities, we see that reality regularly hinders forecasts in terms of entrepreneurship,” he said.

However, something still needs to be done to make the ecosystem more diverse and inclusive, the professor admits. On this topic, he evokes the concept of the “ice staircase”, which complements the famous glass ceiling. “Imagine an outdoor staircase covered in snow and ice in the winter,” he describes. Climbing every step is a dangerous adventure. This is the equivalent of what all women who venture into entrepreneurship must face, ” did he describe in the review Management. The merit is only greater when they reach the top.

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