Business Strategy and Planning

How to Strengthen Your Business Using the Napkin Rule

Every business leader can sense when their business is not doing well. If you’re unsure about the direction of your business, experiencing declining sales, receiving negative customer feedback, or encountering challenges in delivering products or services, it’s a clear signal that action is needed. You might consider reassessing and refining your business strategies using the Napkin method. It will help to strengthen your position and ensure sustained success.

What is a napkin plan?

The Napkin method is a strategy using a napkin or a small piece of paper that contains a simple outline or summary of a business idea. It’s a way to quickly explain the main points of a business concept in just a few sentences or bullet points. The idea is to keep it short, clear, and easy to understand, making it useful for informal discussions or pitches. It does not have a specific origin for the term; it’s widely used in entrepreneurship to convey ideas concisely.

Is it effective?

Jared Yellin, founder of Project 10K, mentioned in Forbes that the Napkin method is a powerful and real-life phenomenon that has proven successful. According to the Project 10K founder, the method is a trend among startups and some successful businesses have started their ideas on napkins.

When should you use this method?

It has no rules. It can be applied whenever you want it to. According to Super Heuristics, this method is highly effective when it is used for any initial plan, such as new business strategies or a new business plan. Here are some examples of when you could apply this method:

  1. Starting up a new business plan
  2. To scale up a business
  3. Set new strategies
  4. Launching a new product or service
  5. Entering a new market
  6. Seeking a new investment
  7. Changing business direction
  8. Developing a new marketing strategy

How is it done?

Firstly, understand why you need the Napkin method. Are you outlining a new business idea, strategy, or problem-solving approach? Consider how the napkin method can align with your business plan’s goals and objectives. It should be recognized that this napkin method is not a formal document, but rather an informal document. The napkin will visualize your overall vision to reach realistic business goals.

A few tips

The napkin method is only a few centimeters big; hence, your points should always be simple, short, clear and concise. Focus on the core elements of your business strategy and clarify how each point in the plan contributes to strengthening your overall business plan. Also, put priority on what to focus on, so that your strategy will be effective. Make it visual, whether it is in diagrams, bullet points, or sketches. Visualization will help you understand and be clear on what needs to be done.

Keep in mind to ensure that all the points are actionable. For example, to define the unique selling points of a product, you need to list out the desired materials and pricing. Adding to that, the napkin method must be relevant. If you want to design a product, make it according to customer preference, not against it. While differentiation is important, it’s essential to consider shifting consumer preferences, such as the growing interest in minimalist watch designs.

Lastly, always get feedback on the napkin method for improvement. Adding to that, change and adjust your napkin method when needed so that it aligns with your business goals and objectives. By following these steps and tips, you can create a napkin method that effectively communicates and strengthens your business objectives and strategies in a clear and concise manner.

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