By Amanda Kuhnert
When Jay Miller decided to start his own business, he didn’t write a business plan. Instead, he developed a Business Model Canvas, a tool that helps entrepreneurs visualize their business strategy. For Miller, a landscape architect, the one-page document resembles a landscape plan he might put together for a client. But instead of plantings and outdoor gathering spaces, the canvas lays out the nine building blocks of a successful business launch, including his value proposition, customer segments, cost structure, and revenue streams.
“Writing a business plan is perceived to be a long and complicated process that discourages many from even attempting it,” said Ross Hart, an advisor with the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC), who has been working with Miller for the past year. “We recommend the Business Model Canvas, as it is a tool developed for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs that allows them to both simplify and ‘drill down’ to focus exclusively on the absolute most important components of starting any business.”
A new business in a new state
Miller had been working as a licensed landscape architect in Massachusetts for 14 years when he and his family relocated to Vermont in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic. He decided the time was right to launch his own business. “As a result of Covid, more people are spending time in the outdoors and want to invest in their property,” Miller said. “I saw this as an opportunity to help people visualize and create their dream properties so they can live their best life.”
In April of 2020 he reached out to the VtSBDC for website advice, and that’s when he met Hart. “Starting a new business in a new state was an extremely stressful time for me,” Miller said. “When I got connected with Ross, he always gave me so much energy and in turn, helped me to relax and realize this business adventure would be successful.”
Looking back, Miller can think of a few things he learned during the startup process: “Don’t be afraid to speak up; there is a big network here in Vermont just waiting to help you. Have an open mind and look at how your business will evolve over time. Build and foster new and old relationships to create a better community.”
Although Miller’s company, J Miller Landscape Architecture, is based in Waterford, Vermont, he isn’t limited by geography. Many of his services can be provided digitally. “My company is a resource for my clients, where we enter into a true working partnership with the ultimate goal of creating a plan for their property that they can enjoy for years to come,” he said.
To learn more: jmillerlandscape.com, or find J Miller Landscape Architecture on Facebook or Instagram.
Looking for more? Visit VtSBDC.org to explore resources or connect with an advisor.