Icon-Based Business Plans

Depending on who you listen to, a business plan is either a waste of your time or an essential document. A good compromise could be Peter Hilton’s idea to create a concise, icon-based business plan visualisation:

Inspired by the simplicity and success of the Creative Commons icons, which condense pages of information that no one ever reads into an easily-understandable symbol accompanied by a sentence of text, Peter proposes to apply that exact same logic to business plans. In reality many submitted business plans are simply not read by investors – they are too long, too boring, or too convoluted. Naturally, the entrepreneurs who write them want to go into as much detail as possible in their plans while the investors that read them just want to see the very core points.

In his talk presenting the idea (pdf, local mirror), Hilton proposes a series of icon-description pairs for a number of business plan sections:

  • About the team (e.g. We can build the product – our CTO is a genius).
  • The idea (e.g. We plan to execute a proven concept).
  • The product or service (e.g. We have a demo or prototype).
  • Revenue models (e.g. We plan to monetise our service later on).
  • Funding (e.g. We need series A funding).
  • Partnerships (e.g. We need an investor with a business network).
  • Return on investment (e.g. We have a cash-flow prognosis).

The idea was apparently not intended to be taken seriously, but it seems to solve a problem.

Update: Hilton’s now created the Plan Cruncher.