Traditional Venture Plan Outline

COVER PAGE
  1. Venture Title
  2. Tag Line
  3. Logo
  4. Principles and Positions
  5. Contact Information
  6. Copyright and Disclaimers

Lean Startup Terminology

minimum viable product (mvp)
A minimum viable product (mvp) is the "version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort" (similar to a pilot experiment). The goal of an MVP is to test fundamental business hypotheses (or leap-of-faith assumptions) and to help entrepreneurs begin the learning process as quickly as possible.

How to Start a New Venture

Go on a DXpedition:

The Discover Phase ...
Form initial core entrepreneurial team
Identify problems or opportunities

Easier Way to Create a Venture Plan

A good approach to creating a business plan to present to prospective investors and collaborators is to start with a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation.

PowerPoint is an excellent tool ... it has good graphics capabilities built in, creating individual slides for each topic tends to force clarity in thinking, it allows for adding hidden (or not) "speaker notes" to each slide, and more.

Calibrating Financial Objectives

1]  Start with a "Use of Funds" list with three key figures: minimum funding to get your venture off the ground and test the waters, nominal to hit stability (self-funded, break-even?), and optimal (move fast to grab market share before others can do so).  In the example below, this company nominal number is $140K.  You DO need a chart that clearly explains your use of funds. Yes, you should include salaries to the key employees.  And you should know how long it will take to get to stable ... the money will come from a combination of sales revenue and your start-up funds.

How to Solve a Problem

  1. Define the problem
  2. Define a set of criteria for a good solution

Basic Financial Statements

There are a variety of tools used for pro forma financial objectives planning and post-facto reporting ...
  • Assumptions: a thing that is accepted as likely to happen ... the probability of a particular customer placing an order in the next 6 weeks, for example
  • Budget: an estimate of income and expenditure for a set period of time
  • Income Statement: provides performance information about a time period. It begins with sales and works down to net income and earnings per share (EPS)
  • Cash Flow Statement: the total amount of money being transferred into and out of a business; a positive cash flow is good.
  • Balance Sheet: a statement of the assets, liabilities, and capital of a business or other organization at a particular point in time.

How to Mentor New Business Venture Development Teams

Successful business ventures continually introduce new product, service, process, and positioning innovations; they keep improving internal and external transformation methodologies; and they continually monitor goal and objective achievements. New venture development teams are wise to model their venture plan on these core concepts.

The SCORE SLATE Mentoring Guideline

The US Small Business Administration SCORE program has a well-refined guideline for business mentoring, using the acronym SLATE ...

S] Stop & Suspend Judgment
L] Listen & Learn
A] Assess & Analyze
T] Test Ideas & Teach with Tools
E] Expectations Setting & Encouraging the Dream

As important as what mentors do is what they don't do: they don't make decisions for the venture team.

[1.03]

The Entrepreneur's Creed

  1. Do what gives you energy ... have fun!
  2. Figure out what can go right and make it happen.
  3. Say "can do" rather than "cannot" or "maybe."

Potential Sources of Differentiation

Every successful business is differentiated from its competition ... it could be very unique and significant, or it may be seemingly small and minor. But customers choose one enterprise over another for a reason. Following are some potential sources of value and differentiation to use as a guide when creating a competitive advantage strategy ...

Questions That Must be Answered in a Business Model

  1. Who are the target customers for this business venture?
  2. How will this venture create and deliver value for these customers?
  3. What, who, where is the primary competition for this venture?

Marketing Brochure Prototype

A prototype marketing brochure is a good tool for "testing the waters" with prospective customers.
  1. Easy way to test a new product, service, solution idea
  2. Easy to iterate a concept

Starter Toolbox for Innovators and Entrepreneurs




Stages of Venture Evolution

Successful business ventures typically move from a] problem/solution ideation to b] planning to c] startup to d] stable to e] sustainable to f] scalable.

Another perspective ...

1. Opportunity ... gap in market, new technology ... maybe, just maybe, we can do something here
2. Idea ... clear problems, viable solutions ... hmmm, looks like there is something here

Innovation Commercialization Roadmap


I taught innovation and entrepreneurship classes at the University of Arizona. On the whiteboard in my office, I had drawn a roadmap of the new venture creation process.

SPLUCK!

SPLUCK: an acronym for Skills, Passion, and Luck … traits shared by every successful Innovator and Entrepreneur. 

SKILLS can be learned. There certainly are a basic set of skills that most every innovator and entrepreneur must have ... but, they aren't necessarily the same set of skills for all!

How Much Money Do We Need?

Q: How much money do we really need to get this new venture concept up and running?

A: It is usually not a fixed dollar amount ... most often, it's a range of desired funding versus the time for the venture to become stable (that is, consistently break-even). Too little money and the venture will not survive, too much money and some will likely be wasted.

The optimal amount is a trade-off with the length of time it will take for the venture to become stable (that is, consistently break-even week after week). The management team needs to know what results they can deliver if the investors do pony up the requested level of funding ... and what could happen with less money raised, or more money raised. The results are usually, but not always, a change in the time to become a stable company.

The C's of Communications

  1. Clear: Make the goal of your message clear to your recipient. Ask yourself what the purpose of your communication is.
  2. Concise: Your message should also be brief and to the point. Why communicate your message in six sentences when you can do it in three?
  3. Concrete: Ensure your message has important details and facts, but that nothing deters the focus of your message.

What's in a Name?

What's in a name? When deciding what to call your venture, the answer is plenty. A venture name can be too broad--or too confining. It can be too quirky--or not memorable enough. The challenge is to pick a name that's catchy, but also fits well with your particular type of venture. Here are 10 questions to ask as you ponder various names, keeping in mind that the choice could make all the difference in establishing your venture in the marketplace.