A Strategy Paper
It has been a long time since my last post here. Without going into the details, the end of last year got me sidetracked with a number of issues; professional and personal. Although they are still going on, I feel that working on this project is what will keep me sane and going. I will post an update on where I’m at in the next day or so, but for the moment, I thought it might be good to write a post about something I have been thinking about for some time; A Strategy Paper.
So what is a strategy paper? It is much like a cross between a short form Business Plan, and an elevator pitch. When you speak to VC’s they will often ask you “Send me a 2 pager”, and this to me, is the strategy paper. It should have enough information to get the idea across, including how you intend to execute and make it into a viable business, but it should also be the elevator pitch in the sense when someone reads it, they get excited and want to know more.
It is important to have one of these for yourself for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is something that you can easily hand out or email when someone wants to know more. But in the first instance it helps you define what you are doing and align everything that you are working on with the original idea.In an earlier post, I talked about the significance of having a Scenario. The Scenario is what you actual determine functionality around, the Strategy Paper is what you define the business around.
Write the Strategy Paper in much the same way as the Scenario; early on in the process, while you have the catalyst of the original idea in your head. Losing this vision is a problem most businesses have as time goes on. For this project, the Strategy Paper describes why this is a good idea and what the business model is. How is money going to be made, and why is the idea unique.
You don’t need to get into details of competitive analysis, SWAT analysis or other details (Although you will probably need this elsewhere to back up your argument when you get to that point). Try to keep it short, 2 pages is perfect, 3 if you have diagrams. 5 pages and you have missed the point.
If you read my post about the 8 points on a startup, you would have noticed that point 3 talks about a business model, and I talk about having a 2 pager. And this is what your strategy paper is. And like I mentioned in that post, I sometimes re-write these from scratch (my bad habit), but you may want to have the Strategy Paper on hand for exactly this reason that you can then update whenever you want to send it out.
This is also a ‘living, breathing’ document. Make sure you read and review it often and go back to it and change and update if need be. Not every day or week, but at least once a month. This will help you on two fronts; 1) am I getting off the point of why I thought this was a great idea in the first place, or 2) has the idea now evolved that what I am really working on needs to be factored into this document?
Finally, don’t spend days it. If you can bang this out in a couple of hours, you are having issues somewhere along the line. It almost needs to be a free-flow from your head (initially anyway). As time goes on you will work it and re-work it to get more detail and clarity as well as omitting the irrelevant.