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During office hours this week, I was meeting with one of the terrific founders going through the Startup Runway pitch practice series. His app is taking off–hundreds of users in the first 90 days–and he’s figuring out the business model. I asked him, so how do you turn $1 into $10? That $1 would represent his time, or his money, or an investor’s money–the basic opening equity of the business.

“Hmm,” he said, “I don’t know.” So I asked him to draw it. Sometimes words aren’t the right answer, especially for the right brain.

Sketching your business engine

He immediately started sketching. In just a few minutes, we had a schematic of his “first business engine” hypothesis about how this effort will turn dollars invested into strong returns, for himself, his co-founders, and potential investors down the line. He jumped up with the scratch pad and said he was going to talk this through with his cofounders. His  basic drawing, “how you turn $1 into $10” is creating a lot of momentum.

Drawing the path of a dollar

Next time you’re trying to get a handle on your business model, try drawing the path of a dollar through your engine. It’s just hypothesis one, and it’s easier to see a sketch than a spreadsheet when you’re doing early modeling. Have you tried sketching your business engine, inputs and outputs?