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the happy startup toolkit

Stop dreaming, start doing

Weve had enough of the leeches. The companies that look to take everything they can and give nothing back. We believe in a better world where companies have a clear purpose other than just making money placing people and happiness before profits. These companies will have a strong culture, happy employees and loyal customers. Get all of these and you can change the world in your own little way. Were building our own purposedriven company and hope you will too! If you agree then wed love your support at

The Happy Startup School team


Startups are unpredictable. Rip up your business plan and explore various business models instead. Then see if theyre viable by talking to potential customers and partners.!


A more human approach to business model generation.

1. Purpose & Vision

This should be the starting point for any startup founder, but its often overlooked. Too often people dive straight into their shiny solution ideas without thinking what change they want to see in the world, or even question why theyre doing what theyre doing. Having a clear purpose can help to give your brand real weight as it has a reason for being so its worth spending time shaping and articulating this. It will also help you to make quicker decisions and attract an audience.

2. Values
Umair Haque, the renowned writer and economist recently stated thatwere on the

cusp of a values-driven revolution. He highlighted that consumers now are much more careful about who they buy from and whether they represent the values they hold dear.
Therefore its important to pin down your values and what you stand for. Think of your core values as those that, when the chips are down, you believe in so much that if you took them away your company would cease to exist. However, dont just brainstorm some values only to then forget about them you need to live and abide by them everyday. You values are how you behave not how you would like to.

3. Your story
What story do you want people to tell about you? If you have a simple story, it will make it easier for you to tell people about what you do as well as help them to tell others.

Start-ups are great at securing funding, explaining what they plan to do for people in the know and designing products and services. Increasingly, though, what separates start-ups that go on to success and those that might not survive after the venture firms pull the plug is linking what they do to a coherent and compelling narrative. Its about a story. Maria Amundson

4. Problems
What are the top 3 problems (or opportunities) that youre looking to address? Frame these as hypotheses to test against the real world. e.g. Selling second-hand goods is a hassle for most modern parents. Is your product or service a pain reliever or vitamin ie. are you solving problems or making people feel better (or both)?

Work on something that matters to you more than money. Create more value than you capture. And take the long view. Tim OReilly

5. Solution
What solutions are you proposing? This section is deliberately small as the solution you design will no doubt change after you speak with customers and partners and test out ideas. Use this as a guide, not a brief.

Be strong on vision, but flexible on detail. Jeff Bezos, Amazon

6. Early adopters
Which customers will be so passionate about your business that theyll be your advocates coming back regularly and telling their friends? Or another way of thinking about it:

Who will love you so much that theyll get a tattoo of your company?
OK, maybe a bit far fetched but its a useful exercise and people do it At a recent workshop we ran, someone flipped this round and considered what sort of company theyd need to build for them to get a tattoo. Something you may want to think about yourself.

Try to appeal to everyone and youll end appealing to no-one Seth Godin

7. Value proposition
This can be one of the hardest areas for a startup to get right early on. It really helps to focus on a niche, keep your offering simple and do one thing well. Trying to appeal to too wide an audience and over-complicating your offering can dilute your proposition and confuse customers. As a rule of thumb, keep it simple.

To help with this use the value proposition designer (also by Osterwalder). Almost every client Ive ever worked for who is seeking greater market share has had no clear value proposition. Leisa Reichelt

In summary
The canvas is meant to be a starting point for creating the DNA of your organisation. Its not meant to replace the business model canvas (or lean canvas if thats your preference), but rather a way to pin down who you are and what you stand for before worrying about everyone else. Read the full article where Laurence explains the thinking behind the canvas:

A persona is a narrative that describes the person your product or service will be used by. It can be a valuable tool, where the act of creating it has as much value as the artifact you will be creating.
! !!

name & picture

Describe their typical day. (Focus on behaviour patterns relevant to your value proposition/product) Some examples: Has a housecleaner Buys take-away 3 times a week Frequently feels overwhelmed when she forgets something

needs & behaviours

facts & demographics

List common questions, tasks, or frustrations they have. Some examples: Spend more time with her friends Feel like she has it sorted Live a healthier lifestyle Clone herself

Describe the basics: age, job, family, hobbies and interests. Where do they live? What's it like?

Some examples: Working mum 34 years old Lives in Reading, works in London Married, 2 kids Household 125k a year

name & picture

needs & behaviours

facts & demographics


If you want to create a product or service that people love then you need to validate your ideas before you launch. After all, bad news gets worse the longer you leave it.
! ! !!

test your riskiest assumptions

Most business ideas are based on a set of assumptions made by the founders. Without rigorously testing these assumptions youre reducing your chances of success. Many business disasters could have been avoided with more thorough customer development.

List out assumptions: 1. Turn the top 3 problems youre solving into hypotheses to be
tested e.g Young parents find it a hassle to sell unwanted goods 2. Work out cheap, fast and effective ways to test out the assumptions youre making

Possible experiments: 1. Fake it before you make it. Sketch out your proposed solution
and discuss this with your early adopters. Rinse and repeat. 2. Create a simple web landing page prior to launch to collect email addresses of interested users 3. Be creative. Often the best experiments come from leftfield. 4. Use social media to validate your idea Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn are all great ways to find users and gain insight.

Interviews: 1. Dont guess, learn. The answers arent in the office.

2. Have the top 3 questions youd like to ask your target customer in your head at all times (in case you meet one in a random situation and arent prepared!) 3. Speak to 10-20 of your target audience and look for patterns and opportunities. Do your hypotheses still hold up?
4. If youre struggling to find people to talk to then head to a coffee

shop and talk to people about your idea.

5. Review your learnings and let this inform your next steps

The Lean Canvas your one page business plan Personapp create simple user personas

10 steps to happiness in business (and life) Why startups need a strong vision How to find your purpose and do what you love How to let your purpose find you Without the why, there's no wind The 5 questions every company should ask itself Tony Hsieh, Zappos and the art of a great company culture Balancing profits with purpose

50 fastest growing brands serve a higher purpose

How great leaders inspire action Purpose, passion, brand The meaning organisation

Delivering Happiness: A path to profits, passion & purpose Culture Shock: A handbook for 21st century business Passion and purpose Start with why

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