Designing your business

To be able to run its company profitably, a start-up is in need of clients paying for its services and/or products. The start-up can make an estimation on what their customers want, but it would be better if they could gain more certainty regarding this issue. To get more insight it would be good to involve clients and other stakeholders in the companies design processes.

As a Company, it is good to pay a lot of attention to the so-called customer development plus. involving customers in the (design) process. Starting with, preferably, a workshop in which one gets to know its clients and it’s wishes better. After this, constant feedback should be asked from customers, stakeholders and co-entrepreneurs, to be able to produce the best results possible within the project. All this feedback and information is also input for developing one’s own business plan.

Design Thinking

Designers dare to ‘think out of the box’. They use a broad range of techniques to come up with new ideas and solutions to diverse challenges. But this is not only a quality designers own. Every entrepreneur can use these (design) techniques to develop and design it's own company.

The design thinking methodology uses input from different stakeholders to translate into services or products the clients want/need. There are unlimited types of tools you can use to find out the needs of your customers and stakeholders. Design thinking has also been developed as an approach to resolve issues outside of professional design practice, such as in business and social contexts.

This design technique is applicable to almost all ‘boxes’ of the Business Model Canvas and the design of one’s own company. Strategy, finance solutions, legal issues etc. can all be approached with the Design Thinking Methodology.

The most important aspect about the Design Thinking Methodology is to involve your stakeholders in your business process. Sharing ideas, asking questions and testing prototypes offers you enormous amounts of valuable information for further development of your product/service/company.

Running a company is a continuous iterative process. This means that when you develop a product or service, you test it, gather feedback and improve it. You do this not only for your product, but also with your company’s finances, marketing, etc.

To be able to receive feedback which is useful for the desired development, the entrepreneurs should plan their design processes. A co-creation session can be a starting point for the process. When developing services or products it is useful to visualize and prototype the first ideas.

Even when one ‘fakes’ prototypes they are super valuable for one’s development phase. Testing the prototype with potential customers offers feedback for further development.

“An image says more than 1000 words. A prototype explains more than 1000 images”

Co-creation Sessions

Creative entrepreneurs very often organize co-creation sessions. Either to develop a project for a client, finding new solutions to stated problems, developing products or when developing their own company strategy and business. The sessions are organized and they are accompanied by clients, stakeholders and other entrepreneurs.

In a Co-creation session new knowledge and ideas will be generated jointly. Depending on the goal of the session different tools can be used to come to the right conclusions. The session will be joined by people with different roles in the company/project (e.g. clients, users, designers, employees and experts). The session can be led by a facilitator, which helps to keep track of the goals and planning set and to keep the audience energized. Suggested time for a co-creation session is 1-3 hours.

Designkit an offspring of IDEO described 4 steps on how to set up a co-creation session:

Step 1

The first step is to identify who you want in your Co-Creation Session. Perhaps it’s a handful of people you’ve already interviewed. Maybe it’s a particular demographic like teens or female farmers or people without jobs.

Step 2

Once you know who you want, arrange a space, get the necessary supplies (often pens, Post-its, paper, maybe art supplies), and invite them to join.

Step 3

Make the most of a Co-Creation Session with Conversation Starters, a Brainstorm, Role Plays, Rapid Prototyping, or other activities to get your group engaged around the problem you’re looking to solve.

Step 4

Capture the feedback your group gives you. The goal here isn’t just to hear from people, it’s to invite them into your design team. Make sure that you’re treating your Co-Creation as designers, not as interview subjects.


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