Tag Archive | plan

Step 1 – Where to Begin

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It has been several months since we started our startup journey. We wanted to discover how to create something. We wanted to know how you went from an idea to a real business. This post reflects on what we have learned so far from others.

The two points that stand out the most when speaking to entrepreneurship is as follows:

1. It takes hard work and energy
2. It takes hard work and energy

The above it not a typo!

All business owners say the same things. They tell you how tough, scary and lonely it is to take a risk and start something on your own. They speak passionately about what they have achieved but don’t shy away from the ups and downs.

To us, this really means that you need to be doing something you love because building a business takes sacrifices.

So where do you begin? We feel it takes knowing who you are and what you are passionate about…

1. Interests? What are you good at? What do you enjoy?

Because starting your own business requires significant time, effort and enthusasim it seems crucial that you focus your new venture around your interests.

Ask yourself, what am I good at?

The most simple exercise is taking a piece of paper and dividing into three:

+ Very Good – What am I really good at? What are my main skills? What are my main passions?
+ Okay – What am I just ‘okay’ at doing?
+ Bad – What should I not bother doing?

Think ‘interests’ and ‘skills’.

Now study the ‘Very Good’ column.
+ What does it say about you? – Do you agree or disagree? If you disagree – start the process again.
+ Apply the 24/7 test – Would you be prepared to do these things 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

2. Problem? Where can I help? Where can I make a difference?

Now that you have identified your key interests and skills. Think about some common problems you come across; or things you think you can improve.

Take a piece of paper and divide into three:

+ Problems – What things do I see everyday that I want to fix?
+ Pain Points – What really annoys me? What is totally inefficient?
+ Random – Whatever else is on your mind?

3. Combine 1 & 2

You should now have a pretty good picture of what you can bring to the world. And you should also know some of the things that need fixing.

Spend some time joining 1 and 2 together. If you are really good at baking muffins and cannot find tasty muffins in your area. Think about how you could join the two together. Muffin store? Online muffin recipes?

Note that this is only step 1. You should avoid jumping too far ahead and trying to settle on one single idea. The purpose of the above is to think of many ideas and match these to your interests. There is plenty more work ahead!

Tell us if these activities worked for you.

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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.

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The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo

UPDATE: Follow up post is now available here.

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When you enter the realm of startups you discover the massive amount of terminology being thrown around. This is even more so in technology where acronyms and techno-slang are commonplace. Therefore we have decided to compile a short list of common words to help out.

If you don’t know an Angel from a Incubator, or a lean startup from a bootstrap, then these postings will probably help.

If you have some suggestions or corrections then drop us a line. As always we love to hear from you guys.

We will elaborate on the below in later posts.

Current work in progress:

Agile
Angel
Burn Rate
Bootstrap
Business Plan
Business Model
Customer Development Model
Disruption
Elevator Pitch
Entrepreneur
Equity
Incubator
Intraprenuer
Lean Startup
Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
Pivot
Venture Capital (VC)

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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
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #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.

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

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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.

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)

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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.

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