So you have an idea for a start-up? Great! You want to join an accelerator or get funded? Awesome. But first, there are a few things you need to do before pursuing either of those paths. We have pulled together some of our favorite tools and resources to help you take your idea and turn it into a business model, come up with a minimum viable product and start testing it. The goal is for you to do this in a short period of time, so that you can determine whether or not the idea is viable before spending too much time or resources on it. If it seems promising, then you may be ready to join an accelerator or seek funding. Simply put, you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, including yours.
The following modules will give you a good background and road map of what you need to do on your own, to take your business from idea to execution. Each module has readings, presentations and actions for you to complete. You can complete all of the modules in order or skip around depending on what point you are starting from, but be prepared to think deeply about your idea and to do a lot of work.
Each module has articles associated with it, but in addition we strongly suggest you read the following books. You can buy them by following the links below or check them out at your local library.
- The Lean Startup, by Eric Ries
- Business Model Generation, by Alexander Osterwalder
- The Startup Owner’s Manual – The Step-by Step Guide for Building a Great Company, by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf
Ready to get started? Click on any of the titles below to be directed to that module.
Culture is defined as the behaviors and beliefs of a particular group of people. Developing the right culture is imperative to business success, so in this module we will explore the typical behaviors and beliefs common among successful entrepreneurs. Participants can complete a personal SWOT analysis to determine the type of business they are best suited for, the skill sets they should have or acquire, and the skill sets founding team members should have.
Too often people come up with a great business idea or build a solution without really understanding the problem or need it solves. If it doesn’t solve a compelling problem or need for a specific group of people, nobody will buy it. So before jumping into building that solution, entrepreneurs must get out of the building as Steve Blank would say, and go talk to customers. This module will show you why you need to talk to customers and how to do it.
So, you have a great idea and it solves a compelling problem or need, and you have a distinct value proposition. Now what? Now you need to figure out how your business is going to generate revenue and profit. And how your business will run day to day. Basically, you need to understand your business model. And explore alternatives. In this module, you’ll learn about the components of a business model, review some examples and get started on mapping out your own. This will tell you what assumptions you need to test and validate before moving forward.
While you are talking to customers and trying to identify a compelling problem or need to solve, it is important to find out as much as you can about the market, industry, and competition your business would be operating in. How big is the overall market? What is your niche? Is the market big enough to support your business? What’s happening in the industry–is it growing, stagnant or shrinking? Are there huge barriers to overcome to enter the market? Who is your direct and indirect competition? What exactly do they do and how do they do it? What will you do differently? Will that matter to clients and if so, how will you position yourself? These are just a few of the questions you should be able to answer in order to determine whether or not you should proceed with the business. This module will give you direction on what you need to know and how you can go about finding those answers.