Here at the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator, the air is ripe with creative energy.
Walking down the hallway is a visual experience full of color and texture and it’s easy to see that the people inhabiting the space here are designers. These creatives also happen to be entrepreneurs, business owners looking to grow and succeed in their creative ventures. Through the Venture Fellowship program, the BF+DA helps these designers focus on the business side of things, but sometimes it’s a creative eye that a company needs in order to succeed.
Maaike Doyer of Business Models Inc reminds us that a business is actually quite similar to a design. When a designer works on a new product they rarely (read: never) push it to production and then sales after just one iteration. Rather, a designer goes through the process of sketching, prototyping, testing and sampling before the product is ready to be produced. Doyer says that entrepreneurs must apply the same attitude to a business plan.
“Since your business model is new, that means that the numbers are nothing but assumptions. You need to get out of the building to test those assumptions,” says Doyer.
Business Models Inc’s original tome, Business Model Generation is “a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers,” a fantastic resource for visual and creative people to put together a business model. Doyer insists that anyone filling out the business model canvas provided in the book take it offline, printing as many copies as necessary and utilizing as many different colored pens it takes to get them to their best possible plan.
“A designer would continue to develop and change their design as they try things out and get feedback. Think about business in the same way by designing the first business model, reevaluating, then sketching it out again and again until every piece falls into place,” says Doyer adding that she believes that this creative process is key for an entrepreneur to fully understand their business, and later on, for investors to understand it too.
In Doyer’s years of experience working with startups and established corporations, and as the Global Strategy Designer and CFO of Business Models Inc, she has seen firsthand that investors and venture capitalists are looking for a story as much as they are looking for a solid business plan.
“You need to be able to tell a story about your business and your growth in order to capture interest from investors,” she says. and in her experience, the businesses that are most successful at capturing capital investments are those that tell a powerful story from a creative perspective.
In order to harness creativity and turn it into an impactful story, Business Models Inc’s new book, Design A Better Business, suggests that designers take advantage of uncertainty. Uncertainty can be the spark that leads to innovation or the next big thing, giving businesses a leg up on the competition and in the boardroom. Doyer reiterates the value in uncertainty, urging entrepreneurs to “disrupt before you get disrupted” because change will always come.
“You must have a vision to get a team or to get investors. Hone that vision, make it perfect, unique, and strong and watch your business flourish,” says Doyer.
To learn more about how brands are taking on sustainable design strategies, check out the Brooklyn Fashion + Design Accelerator’s Sustainable Fashion Roadmap tool.