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Tips for Picking the Right Opportunity

  1. You and your team are passionate and persistent ...
  2. Your team has or can learn the skills needed ...
  3. Your team can collaborate and cooperate ...
  4. The problem is clear ...
  5. The customers are readily identified ...
  6. The market is significant ...
  7. You have a feasible solution ...
  8. The competition is identifiable ...
  9. Your solution has better and sustainable benefits ...
  10. Your solution can generate a sustainable profit ...
  11. Your venture is timely, important, legal ...
  12. Your venture can build barriers to entry ...
  13. Your concept is scalable ...
  14. You'll invest less time, money, and effort in the venture than it will be worth in a couple of years ...
  15. If the opportunity turns out to be less than favorable, you can exit with minor losses ...
  16. Risks can be mitigated ...
  17. The upside potential is significant and timely ...
  18. Your team has a clear plan for success ...
  19. Your team can find the resources needed ...
  20. You and your team are committed to success ...
  21. The opportunity has a potential for long-term success ...

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."
  4. Illegitimi non carforundum: tenacity and creativity will triumph.
  5. Anything is possible if you believe you can do it.
  6. If you don't know it can't be done, then you'll go ahead and do it.
  7. The cup is half-full, not half-empty.
  8. Be dissatisfied with the way things are, and look for improvement.
  9. Do things differently.
  10. Don't take a risk if you don't have to ... but take a calculated risk if it's the right opportunity for you.
[Thank you, Jeffry A. Timmons and Stephan Spinelli]

Innovation Impact Roadmap



For 20+ years, I taught in a University of Arizona entrepreneurship program.  This Innovation Impact Roadmap started on the whiteboard in my office, a graphic schematic of the course syllabus.  

A syllabus is sequential, but innovation and entrepreneurship usually is not.  They bounce around a bit, from here to there and round again. 

My whiteboard version was fairly simple, but useful.  Students and colleagues took pictures of it for reference.  So, I thought, why not elaborate it just a little bit?  [OK, OK, so maybe a little bit more than just a little bit!]  I've added elements that I thought would be most useful, but certainly not all apply to every new venture! The "main highway" is the mission statement, highlighted in yellow.

Think of this Roadmap as a checklist of the elements you might want to visit as you travel around on your new venture adventure! 

High resolution .pdf .jpg and .png versions are available HERE.

--Jim

Critical Path ...

Ultimately, the function of a business venture is to satisfy customer needs, wants, and desires by transforming their problems into solutions (products, services, processes, value ...) and capturing a bit of profit along the way. 

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.  

Creating individual slides for each topic tends to force clarity in thinking. 

One interesting "trick" ... use the "speaker notes" in a PowerPoint business plan slide deck to transform the slides into a more formal written business plan.

It is very common for prospective investors to ask for a copy of the slides before, during, and after a presentation. The down-side is that not all of the pertinent information is on the slides. The speaker for each slide is providing that information. However, there is a easy and fairly elegant solution. Instead of just printing the slide deck, print the slide deck with the accompanying speaker notes. But not just any ordinary speaker notes ...

Use the "Speaker Notes" feature of PowerPoint to write sentences and paragraphs as needed to help the reader understand what is on the slide (since the actual speaker is not there to tell them in person). Just like writing a "formal" document except with the added benefit here of coordinating with the venture plan slide deck and graphics.

There are typically 10 to 20 slides in a business venture plan slide deck (a suggested base outline is below).

From the PowerPoint slide deck with the sentences and paragraphs, the slides with "speaker notes" can be printed one or two slides per page. The results is a "written" business plan that coordinates perfectly with the slide presentation, and has more details than simply printing the slides alone.

Base (but likely not all elements) of an outline for a business plan/presentation ...
1] Title ... name of your venture, logo, tag line, contact information ... a billboard executive summary of the venture
2] Problem/Opportunity ... pain your alleviating or the pleasure you're providing
3] Value Proposition ... benefits versus price
4] Underlying "Magic" ... your solution, marketing brochure, the "secret sauce" behind your venture ... photos, pictures, diagrams,
actual prototype?
5] Business Model ... how you make money ... business model canvas is a good graphic
6] Go-to-Market Plan ... customer NWD profile and how you will fill the holes ... buyer, decision maker, influencer, user, et al
7] Competitive Analysis ... key competitors and perhaps a SWOT(T)
8] Management Team ... you, key advisors
9] Financial Objectives ... first week, month, quarter, year ... how you will meet these objectives ... key metrics
10] Timeline and Status ... Past 6 months, status now, next 6 months ...

While these 10 slides are fundamental, 10 slides alone are often not enough for some base business venture plan presentations. Add as needed but resist the urge to have more than about 18 slides for a 10 to 15 minute presentation.

The Role of a New Business Development Team Mentor

Experienced mentors can help innovators and entrepreneurs effectively and efficiently move their venture concept through the research, ideation, test, and planning stages to resourcing, launch, stability, sustainability, and growth. The role of a new business venture development team mentor is wide-ranging:

1] Mentor: experienced and trusted adviser (typically an unpaid, voluntary, part-time role)
2] Adviser: an expert willing to share their knowledge and opinions
3] Business Plan Editor: a mentor is best used in an editor role, rather than a writer
4] Voice of the Customer: keeps a light on the customer pain-pleasure spectrum
5] Voice of the Competition: ignoring the competition is never a good strategy, and there is always competition (alternatives, substitutes, replacements)
6] Voice of the Stakeholders: everyone involved with the venture must win
7] Voice of the Team Members: a balanced team is a productive team
8] Domain Expert: teaching from education and experience
9] Soothsayer: foresees the future based on experiences from the past
10] Angel Advocate: supports the team and venture, internally and externally
11] Consultant: professional expert advice (usually compensated to perform specific tasks)
12] Moderator: arbitrator, mediator
13] Coach: helps the team iterate and pivot as needed
14] Board Member, Director (not an ordinary role): helps govern the affairs of an organization
15] Teacher: instructor, guide
16] Innovation Stimulator: innovation is a continuing journey, not a destination
17] Collaborator: partner with the venture team
18] Friend: personal confidante and sounding board
19] Tool Technician: helping the team use the right tool at the right time for the right purpose
20] InnovateAthon Tour Guide: Creativity, Innovation, Entrepreneurship
21] DXpedition Tour Guide: Discover, Define, Design, Develop, Deploy
22] InnovateAthon Master of Ceremonies and/or Notetaker: leading the creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship process

The Innovation Ferris Wheel


Venture Scorecard

Just as people have periodic health checkups where a physician examines a variety of elements to determine the overall condition of the individual, so too can a venture, company, business go through a similar process. Here are 30 categories to determine the strengths and weaknesses of a business venture. This is also a good checklist for early venture planning and validation research.