Search

Topics

Accounting Advertising Advisor Analysis Apps Attitude Balance Sheet Barriers to Entry Beachhead Benefits Better Books Bottom Up / Top Down Brain Brainstorming Brainwriting Budget Business Flow Business Model Cash Flow Change Commercialization Communications Competition Competitive Advantage Concept Consultant Corporate Entrepreneurship CQs Creativity Critical Success Factor Crucial Questions Crucial Success Factors Culture Customer Decisions Deploy Design Develop Differentiation DXpedition Earn EBITDA Education Effectiveness Elevator Pitch Engineering Enterprise Entrepreneur Entrepreneurship Environment Evolution Executive Summary Exercise Expenses Expertise Failure Feasibility Finance Financial Objectives Flags Flowchart Focus Funding Fuzzy-to-Firm GizmoGadget Glossary Goals Habits Healthy Venture Hiring HOTI Chart Hypothesis Ideas Ideation Impact Income Statement Industry Industry Research Innovate-A-thon Innovation Innovator Intellectual Property Internet Intrapreneurship Invention Inventory Investor Iteration Knowledge Launch Leadership Lean Startup Learning Legal Luck Machines Management Manpower Market Research Marketing Marketing Brochure Material Media Media Relations Mentor Methods Mindmap Mindset Mission Mistakes Money Motivation Myths Name News Release Niche Market Non-Profit Objectives Operating Agreement Operations Opportunity Passion Patents People Pivot Planning Positioning PR Presentations Price Problems Process Flow Product Development Productivity Profit Progress Promotion Prototype Publicity Questions Refine Research Resources Return on Investment Reward Roadmap Rules_of_Some Sales SCAMPER SCORE Scorecard Skills Slides Solution Development Solutions SPLUCK Start-up Stimulation Strategies Strategy Structure Success SWOTT Tactics Tagline Target Market Team Teamwork Technology Readiness Levels Terminology Terms Test Thinking Tips Tools Transformation TRL Validation Value Venture Venture Capital Venture Creation Venture Plan Viability Vision Work Worth Writing

Crucial Questions (CQs)


Ask and you shall receive!
First Round ... ask the the basic CQs
Second Round ... ask supporting CQs for each of the basics
Third Round ... dig deeper!

Why Ventures Fail

Addressed stagnant or decaying markets ... bad idea ... bad location ... bad luck ... bad management ... devaluation of assets ... disaster ... dishonesty ... dishonesty with self or partners ... excessive bad-debt losses ... excessive overhead expenses ... excessive use of credit ... excessive waste ... fraud ...
high interest payments ... improper balance between major company functions ... improper control systems ... improper market segmentation ... improper market testing ... improper price setting ... inability of spouse to accept the entrepreneur's drives and values ... inadequate financial analysis ... inadequate marketing analysis ... incompetence ... incomplete homework of the venture capital avenues ... incorrect sales forecasting ... ineffective control procedures ... ineffective customer interface ... ineffective direction ... ineffective planning ... lack of experience in the business area ... lack of fiscal responsibilities ... lack of leadership ... lack of managerial experience ... lack of organization ... lack of realization of the necessity to turn cash immediately ... lack of understanding of venture capitalist's goals ... management weaknesses and gaps ... neglect ... operational over-complexity ... over-inflated organizational structures ... over-staffing ... personal and domestic problems ... personal specifications in conflict with start-up's goals and objectives ... poor communications ... poor financial projections ... poor market gap analysis ... poor psychological work environment ... poor retail locations ... poor self-discipline ... poor venture capital appetite-whetting techniques ... premature approach of venture capital avenues ... premature incorporation ... premature patents ... premature product releases ... security indiscretions ... speculative losses ... superior competition ... technical problems ... the lack of zest for life which sustains a start-up ... too many details ... too rapid expansion ... trading area changes ... unable to solve customer's problems ... unbalanced experience ... under-capitalization ... under-staffing ... unfavorable economic conditions ... weak business plans ... weak incentive systems ... weak key employees ... weak marketing tactics ... weak money-leveraging methods ... weak motivation ...

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 ...

ambiance ... branding ... business model ... community service ... contrived deterrence ... convenience ... copyrights ... cost advantages ... cost advantages independent of scale ... customer relations ... customer responsiveness ... customer service ... delivery ... distinct unique competencies ... economies of scale ... effective sales methods ... efficiency ... experience of doing business ... features ... functionality ... government regulation ... high quality ... image ... innovation ... intellectual property ... limited resources ... location ... low-cost ... manufacturing innovation ... market positioning ... market segmentation ... operational methods ... patents ... performance ... price ... product design ... product differentiation ... product innovation ... product selection ... product-line breadth ... quality ... rarity ... relationships ... reliability ... reputation ... selection ... service ... shopping experience ... supply chain relations ... switching costs ... trademarks ... trade names ... unique capabilities ... value

[1.07]

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 Mindmap



For 20+ years, I taught in a University of Arizona entrepreneurship program.  This Innovation Impact Mindmap 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. 

The 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 Mindmap 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