How to Design a Business in 5 steps and 5 proofs of value?

Business Design is method particularly suited for innovative projects. It allows us to respond to the innovator’s enigma “What to sell and to whom?” in 5 steps.

Today used for many projects in digital transformation, it aids design, understanding and sharing of project vision, which are by definition complex and uncertain.

Innovation project leaders often use Design thinking, lean startup and the Business Model Canvas.
Business Design is a method that integrates these 3 approaches into its 5 steps, giving it a complete and coherent vision of the potential of an innovative project.


    1. Step 1
    2. Step 2
    3. Step 3
    4. Step 4
    5. Step 5


The 5 steps


Step 1.1 : Idea

At this stage this issue is to find a starting point for the project and become aware of its intrinsic strength. This strength is based on 3 essential components:

  • What is the problem?
  • What means/abilities does the project leader have to solve the problem?
  • What in these means/abilities allow him to be the best?

In answering these 3 questions, the project can be built on solid foundations, providing evidence of #legitimacy. Legitimacy means that the adventure of transforming an idea into a project with added value can be embarked upon fearlessly.

Step 1.2 : Area

Legitimacy will be expressed in a specific market space. It is important to have this scope firmly in mind to focus on the most fertile ground.

Step 2 : Usages

This step is crucial, and if it is inconclusive it may be better to stop the project before getting in too deep.
Here, the issue is to ensure that people in the field really have “problems to solve”, or, in other words, “needs to be satisfied”. One must be sure that the “problem to be solved”, which is at the origin of the project, is real and shared by a large number of people. 3 crucial questions need to be answered:

    • Who are these people?
    • What are their needs?
    • What solutions do they currently use?

Design thinking is essential to reply to these questions, because it allows us to identify and analyze in depth “these unmet needs”.

By answering these 3 questions, the project leader provides evidence of #desirability. Desirability is the assurance that people will look positively on the arrival of a new solution because they are waiting for it!

Step 3 : Ecosystem

An innovation, even a breakthrough, always takes place within an existing ecosystem, which survived (more or less well!) without it beforehand. Here, the issue is to better understand the ecosystem to take up a place within it. To do so the 3 following questions must be addressed:
    • Who are the market players?
    • How are they connected to each other?
    • What are their respective business models?
This step is not addressed in today’s commonly used methods, but it is crucial. It allows better understanding of the balance of power and the game of the market players in place, and ensures that we can play it to our advantage! By answering these 3 questions, the project leader can provide evidence of #acceptability. Acceptability is the proof that we can fit into the economic landscape with the support of those already in place.

Step 4 : Offer

Now (and only now!) that you are familiar with uses and the ecosystem, you can define a suitable offer. To define the offer, you will need to answer the following 3 questions:
    • What are the features of my offer that will best meet the needs to be met?
    • Are these based on my means/abilities as listed at the beginning?
    • Do I need partners to develop them?
The Lean startup approach is important in replying to these questions. It effectively means going back and forth continuously between the needs of users and the innovative solution envisaged. By answering these questions the project leaders gives proof of #feasability. Feasibility is the ability to bring THE innovative solution.

Step 5 : Business Model

Now, thanks to all the information collected, summarized and analyzed, the project leader can define his business model. The business model is based on the answer to 3 crucial questions:
    • Who are my customers?
    • What are my products/services for these customers?
    • What is my value proposition?
As you can see, the answer to these 3 questions comes from the evidence of value obtained in the previous steps. The Business Model Canvas allows work and a representation based on this subject. With the response to these questions the project leader provides evidence of #viability. Viability is the assurance that the innovative offer has met its market by bringing new added value. With this complete and coherent analysis, our innovator now has a solid project. But be careful, the answers are never set in stone. It is vital to constantly re-ask these questions in a spirit of curiosity and exploration, like a detective who is always trying to solve the riddle “What to sell and to whom?”   This method allows us to make a complete synopsis of the project in a short period of time. It works thanks to the canvas paper and digital resources developed by Vianeo. Vianeo proposes implementation in the form of 2-day workshops, for all types of innovative projects, in any environment, be it research, startup or companies of any size (small, medium or a large groups). We can also transfer it to your team with Certification.

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