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Showing posts with label Strategy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Strategy. Show all posts

Highlights of an Effective Venture Plan

  1. Start with a clear, concise executive summary of your venture. Think of it like an elevator pitch. In no more than two pages, billboard all the important stuff. At the top, communicate your value proposition: what your venture does, how it will make money, and why customers will want to pay for your product or service. If you are sending your plan to investors, include the amount of money you need and how you plan to use it. You have to know the whole picture before you can boil things down, so tackle the summary after finishing the rest of your plan.
  2. Next, establish the market opportunity. Answer questions like: How large is your target market? How fast is it growing? Where are the opportunities and threats, and how will you deal with them? Again, highlight your value proposition. Most of this market information can be found through industry associations, chambers of commerce, census data or even from other business owners. (Be sure to source all of your information in case you are asked to back up your claims or need to update your business plan.)
  3. While you may have convinced yourself that your product or service is unique, don't fall into that trap. Instead, get real and size up the competition: Who are they? What do they sell? How much market share do they have? Why will customers choose your product or service instead of theirs? What are the barriers to entry? Remember to include indirect competitors--those with similar capabilities that currently cater to a different market but could choose to challenge you down the road.
  4. Now that you've established your idea, start addressing the execution ... specifically, your team. Include profiles of each of your business's founders, partners or officers and what kinds of skills, qualifications and accomplishments they bring to the table. (Include resumes in an appendix.)
  5. If potential investors have read this far, it's time to give them the nuts and bolts of your business model. This includes a detailed description of all revenue streams (product sales, advertising, services, licensing) and the company's cost structure (salaries, rent, inventory, maintenance). Be sure to list all assumptions and provide a justification for them. Also, include names of key suppliers or distribution partners.
  6. After all of that, one big question still remains: Exactly how much money will your venture earn? More important, when will the cash come in the door? That's why you need a section containing past financial performance (if your company is a going concern) and financial projections.
  7. Three-year forward-looking profit-and-loss, balance sheet and cash-flow statements are a must ... as is a break-even analysis that shows how much revenue you need to cover your initial investment.
  8. For early stage companies with only so much in the bank, the cash-flow statement comparing quarterly receivables to payables is most critical. "Everyone misunderstands cash flow," says Tim Berry, president of business-plan software company Palo Alto Software. "People think that if they plan for [accounting] profits, they'll have cash flow. But many companies that go under are profitable when they die, because profits aren't cash."
  9. After you've buffed your plan to a shine, don't file it away to gather dust. "A business plan is the beginning of a process," says Berry. "Planning is like steering, and steering means constantly correcting errors. The plan itself holds just a piece of the value; it's the going back and seeing where you were wrong and why that matters."
[Thank you, Mary Crane]

[2.17]

Tips for Developing a Venture Strategy

  1. Develop the vision statement, the mission statement, and the business model
  2. Describe the industry and context for the firm and its competitors
  3. Determine the firm’s strengths and weaknesses in the context of the industry and environment
  4. Describe the firm’s core competencies, its customers, and its competitive advantage
  5. Describe the opportunities and threats for the venture
  6. Identify the critical success factors
  7. Formulate strategic options and select the appropriate strategy
  8. Translate the strategy into action plans with suitable measures and controls
[Thank you, Tom Beyers]

5K

Tips for Building a Good Corporate Culture

  1. Give every member of your organization a chance to dream, and tap into the creativity those dreams embody.
  2. Stand firm on your beliefs and principles.
  3. Treat your customers like guests.
  4. Support, empower, and reward employees.
  5. Build long-term relationships with key suppliers and partners.
  6. Dare to take calculated risks in order to bring innovative ideas to fruition.
  7. Train extensively and constantly reinforce the company's culture.
  8. Align long-term vision with short-term execution.
  9. Use the storyboarding technique to solve planning and communication problems.
  10. Pay close attention to detail.
[Thank you, Walt Disney]

5K

What We Need to Know About Our Competition

  1. Who are our primary competitors?
  2. On what basis do we compete?
  3. What are our competitive positions?
  4. What are our respective market shares?
  5. What are their strengths?
  6. What are their weaknesses?
  7. What are their primary opportunities?
  8. How are they a threat to our venture?
  9. How do you compare to our competitors?
  10. Who are our future competitors?
  11. What strategic opportunities exist in the market?
  12. Can we collaborate rather than compete?
  13. What are the barriers to future competition?
  14. Who are the most likely future competitors?

Name Calling!

Picking a name for a new venture, product. or service is not easy. It may well be one of the hardest things we'll ever do in our venture.

Picking the wrong name could prove disastrous; the right name (brand) could add many sales dollars.

The following checklist should help. However, it is unlikely that any name will meet all these criteria, and there have been many successful names that met but a few.

Good luck!
  1. Can we get the .com URL for the name we want? 
  2. Is the name distinctive?
  3. Is the name instantly recognized?
  4. Is the name easy to remember?
  5. Is the name pleasant to see?
  6. Is the name pleasant to say?
  7. Is the name easy to spell?
  8. Is the name itself confusing?
  9. Is the name easily confused with other names?
  10. Is there a connection between the name and the product, service, or business venture it represents?
  11. Does the name suggest what the business venture, product, or service does? If not, the tagline that accompanies the name may have to carry more communications weight.
  12. Is the name descriptive of the benefits offered by the product, service, or business venture?
  13. Does the name convey the proper image?
  14. Does the name fit customers expectations?
  15. Does the name reinforce customer expectations?
  16. Are there any negative connotations with the name
  17. Is the name limiting?
  18. Does the name coordinate with other names used in the organization?
  19. Does the name work in all target markets?
  20. Can the name be legally protected? Check with USPTO.gov and your state corporation commission to see if the name you want is already taken. If it is, start over!
  21. Can the name be used in other countries?
[4.01]

Venture Plan Outline

  1. Opening, Front Page: Company name, company location, contact information, legal statements (proprietary information, copyright, etc.) ...
  2. Executive Summary: One-page summary of the key elements of the business plan ...
  3. Problem / Opportunity: The problem the venture will solve, the significance of the problem, the opportunity this offers the venture, quality of the opportunity, growth potential ...
  4. Product and/or Service Solution Description: Essential product/service idea, category of product/service, proprietary protection, entry strategies ...
  5. Customers and Target Markets: Target market characteristics, why this market is the best for your venture, market validation research ...
  6. Business Model: How your venture will earn a profit, expected margins, sources of recurring revenue, vision, mission, goals ...
  7. Competitive Advantages: Market focus, value proposition, core competencies, barriers to entry, competitive validation ...
  8. Environment and Context: Industry overview, research results and analysis, major competitors, benchmark ventures, how your venture will position itself to meet the competition, timeliness, regulations ...
  9. Marketing and Sales Strategy: Pricing strategies, distribution model, partnering, promotional strategies ...
  10. Technology Strategies: Technology, product development ...
  11. Operational Strategies: Production methodologies, manpower requirements, equipment requirements, material management, flow diagram of key processes ...
  12. Intellectual Property and Legal Issues and Strategies: Patents, trademarks, trade names, copyrights, trade secrets, operating and other agreements, legal structure ...
  13. Organization: Management team, relevant domain knowledge of the team, commitment, advisers, management to be added, culture, talent ...
  14. Development Plan: Current company status, number of employees, development stage, early revenue, number of customers, relevant historical information, long-term venture goals, growth strategies, timeline ...
  15. Risks and Contingencies: Downside risks and contingency plans, upside risks and expansion plans ...
  16. Financial Plan: Key assumptions, historical financial statements, pro forma statements, return on investment ...
  17. Investment Funds Sought and Use of Proceeds: Total investment funding being sought, use of funds in 4 or 5 general categories, any unusual use of funds ...
  18. Harvest Plan: Return of cash to investors and entrepreneurs; most-likely exit method (IPO, acquisition, ...) ...
  19. Summary: A brief who, what, where, when, why, and how of the venture; vision and mission ...
  20. Appendices and Research: Detailed resumes, research results, product data sheets ...
[2.06]