Tag Archive | evaluation

Thinking of Starting a Startup? 8 Sentiments To Think About

Startups for the Rest of Us

Mike Taber and Rob Walling record an awesome regular podcast called “Startups for the Rest of Us“. It’s aimed at helping developers, designers and entrepreneurs launch their startup product. They have just hit their 100th episode and you can check out older recordings or episode transcripts on their website.

In episode 98 they share “eight sentiments that do not bode well for your startup”.

The Eight Sentiments

1. “This product idea is awesome. Now off to the basement to build it; see you in 6 months!”

2. “I haven’t even finished the features I want to build yet and potential customers are already asking me to build X.” Translation: “I’m sticking to my product idea no matter what my potential customers tell me.”

3. “I’m halfway done with this idea… but that shiny new one over there seems so much better.”

4. “I plan to quite my job 60 days after I launch.”

5. “It would take me as much time to explain this task to someone else, so I’ll just do it myself.”

6. “I don’t want to bother with all that click through and conversion rate nonsense…I’ll just build a great product.” Translation: “Build a better mousetrap is not a good strategy”

7. “My idea is pretty hard to explain, do you have 20 minutes to spare?”

8. “I don’t want to talk publicly about my idea because someone might steal it.”

Summary

These are excellent points. The message is do not keep your idea a secret. Speak to people, especially customers and listen and apply their feedback. You need to be able to articulate your idea clearly and be open to suggestions. Do not build and ship in isolation!

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Advertisements

The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3

This is the next update to our Startup Glossary.

A few months ago we launched our very own startup glossary to help others learn the lingo. This is the latest installment of the commonly used startup buzz words being used in the community. We plan to update the main startup glossary later in the week. Please contact us if you have any submissions or suggestions.

The following are some of the startup phrases or startup buzzwords we are aiming to include in future updates:

Early Majority
Innovators
Laggards
Late Majority
Long Tail
Low Hanging Fruit
Monetise
Ninja
Rockstar
Series A Financing
Sweat Equity
Startup
Stealth
Stack
Term Sheet
Traction
Vertical
Web 2.0

+ A +

A/B Testing

A/B testing, split testing or bucket testing is a method of marketing testing by which a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response or conversion rates. (Source: Wikipedia)

At its core, A/B testing is exactly what it sounds like: you have two versions of an element (A and B) and a metric that defines success. (Source: Smashing Magazine)

+ C +

Crowdfunding

The practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. (Source: Oxford Dictionaries)

Kickstarter is probably the most well known and largest funding platform for creative projects.

+ E +

Early Adopter

An early adopter, lighthouse customer or trendsetter is a person who embraces a given company, product, or technology before most other people do. Early adopters form an early element of the technology adoption life cycle, a model that portrays the spread of new ideas and technology. (Source: Wikipedia)

The other categories include:

Innovators
Early Adopters
Early Majority
Late Majority
Laggards

+ F +

Freemium

Freemium is a business model by which a product or service (typically a digital offering) is provided free of charge, but a premium is charged for advanced features, functionality, or virtual goods. The word “freemium” is a portmanteau combining the two aspects of the business model: “free” and “premium”. (Source: Freebase)

Funding

Funding or financing is when a business needs an external source of finance (or borrowings) where the capital needs of the business exceed its own available resources and those of any shareholders. (Source:Business Dictionary)

Well known venture capitalist (and co-founder of Ycombinator) Paul Graham outlines startup funding sources into the following categories:

Self Funded
Friends and Family
Angel Investors
Seed Funding Firms
Venture Capital Funds
Other – Includes grants

(Source: Paul Graham)

The amount of money you achieve from sources can vary, but may follow the below guidelines:

Angel Funding (usually equity) – £25,000 to £500,000
Commercial Lending – various
Venture Funding (usually loan, convertible loans or equity) – £500,000 to £5,000,000
Crowd Funding (usually direct investment) – £5,000 to £1,000,000

(Source: London Funding Conference)

+ G +

Gamification

“Gamification involves applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Gamification can potentially be applied to any industry and almost anything to create fun and engaging experiences, converting users into players.” Some startups utilise gamification to incentivise user engagement.

(Source: Gamification.Org)

+ H +

Horizontal

Horizontal is a term often used to describe ones business model or business strategy. In this context it focuses on the breadth of one’s product and market.

Horizontal strategies aim to sell a product across multiple markets (moving left to right across markets). Horizontal strategies may suit products that appeal to different sorts of customers, not just a single market segment or industry.

In contrast, vertical strategies aim to sell a product in just one market (moving up and down across a product).

(Source: Entrepreneurs Journey)

Human Capital

“The set of skills which an employee acquires on the job, through training and experience, and which increase that employee’s value in the marketplace.” It may be considered an economic view of a human being – in terms of knowledge and creativity contributions towards an organisation.

(Source: Investor Words)

Hyperlocal

Relates to a “well defined community with its primary focus directed toward the concerns of its residents”.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Current trends apply the terms when referring to applications that make use of mobile and GPS technologies. Such applications connect users to nearby products or services.

+ M +

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A Minimum Viable Product has just those features that allow the product to be deployed, and no more. The product is typically deployed to a subset of possible customers, such as early adopters that are thought to be more forgiving, more likely to give feedback, and able to grasp a product vision from an early prototype or marketing information.

(Source: Wikipedia)

.
Did you enjoy this post? For more startup, business and technology posts visit our main page.

Ghetto Testing the Viability of an Idea

Idea validation – the writings on the wall…

Back in 2009 Mark Pincus (CEO and Founder of gaming company Zynga) spoke to Stanford University students about the concept of “ghetto testing”.

What is ghetto testing?

Ghetto Testing or Dry Testing is a way to “estimate your sales opportunities in your target market before actually investing to build the product. The key idea is to find out how it will sell by pretending to a relatively small group of your target audience that it is already available.” Pincus explains “before spending tremendous resources to build out an idea, the company first tests the viability of an idea.”

Simply you create a method to test your product idea, without actually building the product. This reflects the lean startup roots of customer development and the path towards a minimum viable product.

How do I implement it?

In the Stanford Podcast Pincus describes the steps, summarised below.

+ Someone in the organisation tells him about a new idea for a game.
+ No code is written.
+ They tell the marketing or product manager that the product is built. Describe it in five words.
+ The five words are posted to the website, made live for five minutes.
For example they put up a link – “Hey, do you ever fantasize about running your own x?”
+ Based on results of the immediate testing, they spend a week constructing a basic product (“ghetto build“).
+ They A/B test it and flow test it. They put it out to 1%, 10% of our users.
+ They build a data warehouse with the testing platform.
+ Based on results they either roll out the improved version, make changes or stop development.

Fortunately Zynga have the luxury of a massive user base and traffic flow. Therefore for new businesses it may be more challenging to get instant feedback within 5 minutes. However this example provides a simple illustration of evaluating your idea without writing a line of code.

The test doesn’t need to be online. It may be a poster on a bulletin board asking interested people to call, text or email you. It may be a small advert in the local newspaper. It could be cold calling prospective customers and asking if they would be interested in your product. Early feedback may help you proceed, pivot or bin your idea.

Why is it important?

Determining if your business or product idea is viable is an early challenge for an entrepreneur. Mocking up a quick test to execute provides quick feedback giving you the direction to stop or continue.

Did this post help? Drop us a line with your testing experiences.

——

A/B Testing:

A/B testing, split testing or bucket testing is a method of marketing testing by which a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response or conversion rates. A classic direct mail tactic, this method has been recently adopted within the interactive space to test tactics such as banner ads, emails, landing pages or even entire websites. For instance, on an e-commerce website the purchase funnel is typically a good candidate for A/B testing, as even marginal improvements in drop-off rates can represent a lot of additional sales. (Source: Wikipedia)

Image Credit:
Drawgraffitiart

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories

We are relatively new to Hacker News. We always felt this forum best catered for programmers. However after spending several hours of reading through old and new posts we were pleasantly surprised that the audience may be slightly bigger than first thought.

Yes, the majority of submissions and discussions are technology focused, but there are stories that stand out for us. These are where members share their honest and open experiences of getting their idea to the marketplace.

This week alone we found the following amazing submissions. These are truly inspiring!

1. $17k in eBook Sales (HN Link)

@jstorimer shares the success of his very own eBook. His blog post and Hacker News discussion outline important tips – including setting up a sales splash page to gauge interest BEFORE writing the book.

The blog post can be found here – 4 Months of ebook Sales (jstorimer.com).

While the eBook title “Working With Unix Processes” may not appeal to all, the niche content has found popularity in his $17k+ of sales!

2. $42k of Funding in 1 Week (HN Link)

@Scirra share their impressive crowd funding round on Kickstarter. They recommend doing sufficient homework on the process to achieve maximum results for the crowd funding process.

The story is available here – How we got over funded in just 1 week on Kickstarter.

And more information on their products at their website scirra.com.

3. 800k Unique Visitors in One Month (HN Link)

@thederek describes his milestone of reaching 800k unique views last month. An astonishing result from leveraging traffic from social media sites and writing super content with fantastic photos.

Read more here – Lessons Learned After Year One As a Startup Founder.

4. 400k Subscribers in 3 Months (HN Link)

@pud posed the question “I have 404,772 users. Now what?“.

Three months ago he started a social network for musicians called Fandalism. His goal was to build a database of every musician on the planet and give them a place to show their work and meet other musicians. He exceeded on his goal and now has the fortunate problem of deciding on where to take this venture. Good luck!

5. Full Time Salary in 4 Months (HN Link)

A contributor describes how he built his online cleaning business in 4 months.

The full story including discussions are available here – From an idea to replacing my full-time salary in 4 months. How I did it, and what’s next!

6. Want More?

There are many more stories available on Hacker News. Another great source is Reddit’s Ask Me Anything Section.

Check this link out for a summary of remarkable contributions – A (non-exhaustive) list of Redditpreneurs who have shared their experience with Entrepreneurship in r/entreprenuer, r/startup, r/askreddit, and r/iama

.

You might also enjoy:
+ Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Startup Is Not The Same As A New Start Business

Scott Allison (@Scott_Allison), a new contributor to Forbes states in a recent article titled Startup Success: Throw Away Your Business Books “that a startup is not the same as a new start business”.

He differentiates between the two by writing:

A startup business – lacks a repeatable and scalable business model and lacks certainty.

A traditional business – proven many times before so you can take advantage of that information, research and learning which has been perfected, potentially over hundreds of years.

If you are not doing something new, then it is not a startup! You cannot apply all traditional business concepts before launching your startup product, primarily due to the level of uncertainty and the many unknowns.

This raises some interesting challenges to a startup, embarking on creating something totally new….

What existing tools and techniques are available? What path can be followed? How do you know if you are going down the right track?

This uncertainty explains the popularity in the Lean Startup movement and the scientific method to building a startup from the idea to launch. A good summary of the lean approach can be found on the Smallbiztrends website.

It states that “a startup must be agile and operate in a constant feedback loop”. This is in contrast to the traditional ‘linear’ progression of a traditional business.

Are you operating a traditional business or a startup business? Are you applying a traditional or lean approach to launching your idea?

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Project Mackerel – Please Sir… Complete our quick survey?

Work continues on Project Mackerel, our planned online portal to help job seekers impress in interviews. It even may help bright eyed entrepreneurs like you during a sales pitch to a potential investor.

We are calling out to everyone to fill out our quick survey. We essentially want to know if anyone would use our proposed service. The survey is available via the link below:

Click here to take survey (Link will open in a new window)

Share the link or embed within your blog or website:

<a href=”http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/753VK7N”>Click here to take a quick survey on proposed job seekers website</a>

We know that getting responses can be extremely slow and challenging but we are hoping you guys can spread the word. As always, we will keep you informed on the process and share our experiences.

Thanks all!

——-

Check out these earlier posts on the project:

Project Mackerel – Sneek Peek of Prototype
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers (Follow Up)

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Upcoming Posts – Please Vote

Over the past few months we have been busy hammering away on our typewriters. Some articles we have published. Others have sat idle on our desks waiting for our head editor to review. To help us – please vote for articles you would like to see published.

Reply via WordPress, tweet us (@SparkNLaunch), text us or even let us know via smoke signal. Just include the post number in your message. Have we missed something? Then send us your suggestions.

Here is a list of our planned future posts….

Upcoming posts:

1. Would you buy it? – Examining the most powerful test for any new idea or product by asking the simple question of “Would you buy it?”.

2. The Lean Startup – A summary of the lean movement and our impressions on its effectiveness in the current entrepreneur climate.

3. Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – Describing the shift from product to customer development models and the importance of getting something out to the market sooner, rather than later/never. You may have nothing to lose by exposing your product today.

4. The Five Whys? (Why 5x) – Testing the ‘five whys’ approach to root cause analysis. A Taiichi Ohno (Toyota) approach to lean manufacturing now being advocated by Lean Startup author Eric Ries.

5. Project Trout meets Adwords – Our ongoing investigation into social media and the success (or rather failure) in driving traffic continues. This time we share our unsurprising results on using Google AdWords.

6. Margin Call – We try and apply lessons from the film Margin Call to the startup industry.

7. Million Dollar Viral – Research into the power of viral marketing and whether such techniques can be repeated. Can these methods be used by a small startup or are they reserved for the big boys?

8. Front Page News (Media Coverage) – We explore the steps required to make it onto the front page of Tech Crunch or Hacker News, and what this really means to the longevity of your company.

9. Market Research Monkey – Some musings on the challenges in conducting market research.

10. Using Buzzwords Badly – A closer look at the use of buzzwords and jargon, and if the misuse of words even matters.

11. Why your online presence is meaningless! – A rambling entry on why your online presence is not enough to progress your business.

12. Why Google+ Sux? – Sharing the frustration and joy of Google. We put forward an argument that Google has too many engineers building products that the average consumer cannot use.

13. Everything has been done – Success may take years and why all your ideas are already being delivered and rejected by the market.

14. Why being a deal maker matters! – A look at the important players that can make a successful startup.

15. Five Dollar Millionaire – Why $5 is suddenly a popular price point for your startup product. A couple examples on how psychological price points are being exploited by entrepreneurs.

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Another Way To Plan – The Business Model v Business Plan

We noted in an earlier post about discovering a great source of business and entrepeneurial podcasts from Standford (Post: Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources). They kindly share a long list of inspirational and insightful lectures you can download and enjoy.

One session worth sharing was presented by Alexander Osterwalder. Osterwalder talks about the ‘Business Model Canvas’. A strategic management template for developing new or existing business models.

In layman’s terms, Osterwalder presents a simple and powerful device to explore and explain your business. It may be used to help build your business plan or even replace it. To distinguish between the two:

– A business model (dynamic) describes how your company creates, delivers and captures value (Source).

– A business plan (static) is an operational document to how your business will run.

Ultimately, the benefit of a business model is speed and story telling. It allows you to test your idea before moving too far down the formal planning route. It presents an alternative and flexible start to the planning process.

We have summarised the key elements of Osterwalder’s business model canvas below however the links at the bottom of this post will help you the most. Have you used a business model approach? Please share your experiences with us.

Summary:

The 9 Business Model Canvas Building Blocks:

1. Customer Segments
2. Value Propositions
3. Channels
4. Customer Relationships
5. Revenue Streams
6. Key Resources
7. Key Activities
8. Key Partnerships
9. Cost Structure

Links:

Learn more about business models:
http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/

Learn from business model practitioners:
http://businessmodelhub.com/

Download the business model canvas:
http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/downloads/business_model_canvas_poster.pdf

Gain more information on the business model concept from this book preview:
http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/book

Listen to the Osterwalder podcast to hear more from the brains behind the concept:
http://ecorner.stanford.edu/authorMaterialInfo.html?mid=2862

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers (Follow Up)

This is a quick thank you to all those enthusiastic people who responded for our call for testers (Post: Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers). We will be in touch shortly with updates and details on our soon to be released prototype for early feedback.

To those people still to reply, there is still time. We are always keen to hear from others. So please get in touch if you are keen to get involved.

—-

Project Mackerel is our very own web portal project. We have been working on an online portal idea to help job seekers impress in interviews. While this is not totally in keeping with the ‘self-employment’ genre of this blog, we are pitching an adaptable idea to try and help those out of work, or those looking for the next step upwards.

We are currently working on our (very) early prototype and require feedback from willing testers. You may be an experienced programmer or newbie web surfer. We are aiming to start initial testing next month. We just need enthusiastic volunteers to give us some early feedback and helpful suggestions.

Anyone interested, please get in contact via the contact links or e-mail (sparkNlaunch at gmail). When replying it would be useful to know a little bit about yourself.

Thanks!

We are also open to any advice in this department. We have been researching and there appear to be various avenues to go down. We plan a later post to document our findings and experiences.

Useful links:
http://betali.st/
http://www.thebetafamily.com/
http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/222566

.

You might also enjoy:
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers

Project Mackerel is our very own web portal project. We have been working on an online portal idea to help job seekers impress in interviews. While this is not totally in keeping with the ‘self-employment’ genre of this blog, we are pitching an adaptable idea to try and help those out of work, or those looking for the next step upwards.

We are currently working on our (very) early prototype and require feedback from willing testers. You may be an experienced programmer or newbie web surfer. We are aiming to start initial testing next month. We just need enthusiastic volunteers to give us some early feedback and helpful suggestions.

Anyone interested, please get in contact via the contact links or e-mail (sparkNlaunch at gmail). When replying it would be useful to know a little bit about yourself.

Thanks!

We are also open to any advice in this department. We have been researching and there appear to be various avenues to go down. We plan a later post to document our findings and experiences.

Useful links:
http://betali.st/
http://www.thebetafamily.com/
http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/222566

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – Ugly Websites That Went Viral

When we were looking into creating a website to sell random products. We had in our head the idea the site had to look sexy to generate sufficient traffic and sales. It had to have all the bells and whistles and we were willing to pay for someone to build it.

We checked out websites and compared designs. Amazon and most other top end online retailers had nailed it. You could purchase anything in one click and photos and keywords made it clear on what you were buying. Easy – we just take these winning formulae and starting selling?

Then we started thinking more about this. How did these sites start?

Facebook has evolved into being an amazing and versatile application. However it wasn’t always so pretty and powerful. Before it went viral how did it look?

Then you check out Craigslist and PlentyOfFish. Not exactly websites likely to be hanging up in your local art gallery.

Moving on from appearance, how did these websites function? How do they still function? Again, Craigslist is a pretty basic website. Even Twitter is relatively simple. Sure magic may happen on the back end in the server room, nevertheless they are not overly complicated on paper.

A great website we stumbled upon compares pretty and ugly banner adverts. Surprisingly the ugly banners had more clicks. Go figure?
http://www.mrgreen.am/affiliate-marketing/the-ugly-truth/

Another blogger that talks about landing pages raises some smart design concepts:
http://www.workhappy.net/

When thinking about your future website – consider simplicity?

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Picking a name – The importance of brand

You read lots of varying views on selecting your business name. I tend to side with those that focus on the bigger picture. Those that talk about the whole package of customer perception and branding.

When you walk down your local high street (or visit your nearest shopping mall for you Americans), it seems obvious that name is not so important. HSBC, Virgin, Tesco… Sure “Post Office” holds a real naming monopoly however it hasn’t stopped DHL and Fed Ex.

Essentially while name is important, or rather avoiding wrong names is important – it is more the packaging around the name that is crucial.

There is a great article at http://onstartups.com on Startup Branding here:

http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/76648/Startup-Branding-A-Practical-Guide-for-Entrepreneurs.aspx

The author describes the response to Xerox in the 60’s:
“It sounds like a Chinese laxative,” he said. I bet it did to most people, and they did OK.

Many more examples exist.

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Business Plans – “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail” (includes business plan template)

Some people do it, other don’t. Personally planning gives me some comfort in knowing what to expect. It’s my road map of who is doing what and when. Yes, in reality, things will always change but ultimately you have things you need to do regardless, and a target you are aiming for.

The good old business plan is the primary tool of budding entrepreneurs. Not all businesses promote this concept but unless you really have your ideas and objectives written down – are you really serious about things?

Business Link UK is a terrific resource and tells you everything you need to know about starting, financing, running a business and much more. They share templates and case studies that can simplify the underlying tasks.

Their instructions on preparing a business plan are really useful and a excellent starting point:
http://www.businesslink.gov.uk/bdotg/action/layer?topicId=1073869162

Another great place to look is on your local bank’s website. Most banks have heaps of information including useful business plan templates and instructions. Just google ‘bank name + business plan’. The several versions I found are extremely useful and as a customer many of the legal and business advice is free!

The key benefits of building a business plan is that you can use this document to present to potential bank managers and venture capitalists. It is your foundation stone of your business and can continue to be reviewed and changed as you progress.

If a 20+ pages business plan is a little too daunting for you. Check out the many free ‘one page’ business plan documents floating around the Internet. As a minimum it should capture:
1) Your Market (who are your customers and competitors?)
2) Your Marketing (what are your product/service features and benefits? And how will you sell this?)
3) Your Finances (how are you funding and what are your estimated operational and sales figures?)
4) Your Growth Opportunities (how developed is your product/service offering? And how can it grow?)

You can download a very quick draft two-pager business plan template I put together in Microsoft Excel. Feel free to play around with the format. Note that this is just a starting point and plenty of due diligence is still required.

Click link to download file –> sparknlaunch.wordpress.com business plan 2011 template (xls)

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources
+ Blog Milestone – Lessons Learned From 50 Blog Posts

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Evaluate Your Business Idea – Evaluating your spark

Startups.co.uk is a great website for learning more about getting started with your very own business. We find their case study stories inspiring as you get to hear from others about the challenges they faced in getting their idea to market.

One useful link we found was to a free Business Idea Evaluation Tool. Before you get too excited, this is not going to answer all your questions and instantly give you a green light on your idea. It is simply a set of questions to measure your idea against some common sense criteria. No humans involved and very generic. However you do receive a nice report telling you how your idea fares against logical categories. It highlights your strengths and weaknesses and gives you more questions to ask. You may surprise yourself (in a good or bad way)! However better to be surprised now rather than later.

Ultimately it is asking you questions you need good answers for. And if you don’t know the answer or your answer is insufficient – you know where you need to do more homework.

The tool can be found here (note you do need to supply an email address to read the outputted report):
http://www.startups.co.uk/business-idea-evaluation-tool.html

To help we have recorded the key criteria below. Hopefully this will help you in your brainstorming and idea building sessions:

1) Market (Market Size, Customers Need, Competition, Barriers to Entry)
This is an analysis of the potential customers for your product or service. To exploit your idea financially, you need a sufficient number of customers to buy your product or service at a price that will give you a suitable profit.

2) Marketing (Additional Opportunities, Benefits, Sales, Repeat Purchase)
This section looks at how you intend to promote and sell your product or service so that it meets your customers’ needs. Your objective should be to maximise your sales.

3) Finance (Funding, Profitability, Production, Profit/Unit)
Here the potential for your idea to make you money is analysed.

4) Exploitation (Development Stage, Capabilities, Intellectual Property, Legislation)
This section looks at factors important for the successful commercial development of your idea.

Check out Startups for more info:
http://www.startups.co.uk/

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

%d bloggers like this: