Entrepreneurship 101: Cool Concept or Real Business Opportunity?
Companies succeed because they meet the needs of customers, investors, lenders,
employees and suppliers. Notice that your needs are not listed. Even though you have
a strong personal desire to start a business, your emotional commitment won’t mean
much to investors unless you can communicate clearly and succinctly how your
concept will translate into sustainable sales. This course will help you build a sustainable
business model by breaking your new business idea into parts you can deal with.
Session 1: The Entrepreneurial Mindset. What is entrepreneurship? What are the
characteristics of successful entrepreneurs? How do I stack up against those
entrepreneurial traits? This session will provide hands-on insight into these and other
burning questions about starting and running your business.
Session 2: Identifying and Meeting Market Needs. This session will help recognize
opportunities and determine which are worth pursuing. We will show you how to
research and analyze data on an industry, market characteristics, potential
competitors, and customers.
Session 3: Create a Winning Strategy. An effective Business Model helps put the jigsaw
pieces of a successful business into place by answering the Six Key Questions that
demonstrate feasibility. Using the data you collected and analyzed in Session 2, you will
confirm or refine your business concept to make it a real business opportunity.
Will They Buy It? From Idea to Sellable Product
You are passionate about your BIG IDEA. You’re going to change the world. Your burning desire to bring a healthy alternative to greasy, salty popcorn in multiplex cinemas won’t go anywhere if people won’t actually purchase your Bucket o’ Broccoli. How do you identify what customers will actually buy? You will learn to describe your product/service in terms of customer benefits, identify proper ways to protect your intellectual property, and decipher the impact of government regulations on your business.
Find Customers and Help Them Find You
Entrepreneurs, especially inventors and technologists, often believe that their business concept is so spectacular that they won’t have to promote their product or service. “If you build it, they will come” is their marketing mantra. But unless you know who your potential customers are, why they might buy your product or service, and how they will even know about your business you are doomed to failure. This course will help you understand those critical elements.
Session 1: Research and Analyze the Market. Using primary and secondary research tools, you will create a profile of your industry, competition, and identify your ideal target market.
Session 2: Develop a Marketing Campaign. Once you know who your potential customers are, this session will help you position your offering in the market and how you will let the customers know about your company. What marketing strategies will you need to effectively reach your target market? We will explore advertising, publicity, promotions and a sales/service process.
Session 3: Build a Sales Effort. This session will explore how “sales” translates into all the issues related to making contact with your actual customers once you’ve established how to reach them through your marketing campaign.
Sales is the entire process that occurs immediately before you ring up the item on the cash register or sign the contract.
Cash or Profit: Chicken and Egg?
This course concentrates on the components of profitability that contribute to your company’s success. From the basic issue of why being profitable doesn’t mean you still can’t pay your rent to advanced topics of estimating sales and expenses, we will look at reading basic financial statements and the importance of cash flow management. The accuracy and credibility of your financial figures and projections is absolutely critical in convincing investors, lenders and partners that your business is worthy of their support. We will focus on making sure your data is scrupulously honest, extremely clear and totally comprehensive. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to work with an electronic financial tool that will translate your estimates into standard financial statements and ratios.
Business as a Team Sport: Organize for Success
By this stage of thinking about your new venture, you have probably come to the realization that you aren’t equipped to do everything. Entrepreneurs have to wear many hats during the start up phase, but those who successfully make the transition from start up to sustainable company are those that figure out that a team approach is more effective way to use the resources they can access. We will define key management roles, examine strategies to identify team members, set goals, and add value by building an infrastructure of advisors.
Session 1: Organizational Development. What is the best legal structure for your business? What are the risks to your ownership and control, and what strategies are available to manage those risks? Organizational goals will drive the options for organizational structure of the business. People who are not full time employees can be integral to your success by offering expertise, experience and contacts. Exercises and discussion will focus on building the right infrastructure for your success.
Session 2: Human Resource Management. Since business is a team sport, choosing your teammates may be the most important decision you make. You need to establish company culture, interview and hire the right employees, and create compensation and benefit plans that will retain those employees after you hire them. This session looks at identifying the talents needed for the management team, and recruiting employees with the right stuff to make your company successful. We will also discuss the issues, such as the role of family and personal goals, which need to be spelled out in the business plan.
Writing a Killer Business Plan
A business plan does three things for an entrepreneurial venture. First, it helps you test and document the feasibility of your business concept. By writing the plan, you analyze and discuss those key success factors that will help you develop a venture with a greater likelihood of success. Second, it can help you secure the best financial resources for your new venture. By documenting how and why this venture will succeed, you can identify potential investors or partners, lenders, and negotiate attractive payment terms. And finally, the business plan forms the basis of your operational plan for the successful management of your particular company. Plan the work, work the plan.
Session 1: Present the Plan on Paper. Now that all the pieces of your plan are in place (business model, desirable product or service, marketing plan, financial projections and the people necessary to succeed) you are ready to put the pieces together in a cohesive, easy-to-follow business plan that will motivate readers to take the actions you need them to take, whether as investors, lenders, partners, employees or suppliers.
Session 2: Present the Plan in Person. Despite all the electronic media available today, nothing is more effective than a well prepared in-person meeting. In fact, raising funds from investors or even the bank will most likely require you to present your plan to them face-to-face. As you prepare for the in-person presentation of your plan, you need to understand and manage the 3 Cs of effective presentation: the Context, the Content, and the Code.