Cheat Sheet

Entrepreneurship For Dummies

From Entrepreneurship For Dummies by Kathleen Allen, PhD

Skilled entrepreneurs obtain as much knowledge as possible about the marketplace and what will sell there. This cheat sheet helps entrepreneurs test new ideas to weed out the keepers from the also-rans; poses key questions about the expected interactions among your concept, the marketplace, the industry, and your team; shows you how to create a marketing plan; and more!

Tech Resources for Entrepreneurs

Technology affects practically every entrepreneurial venture, and savvy entrepreneurs know which tech resources to turn to. You use technology to help determine what to sell, how to sell it, where it's selling, and who's buying it. To keep on top of technology, browse these Web sites periodically for helpful information:

  • Wired.com: Find articles on what’s happening in the world of technology.

  • Slashdot.com: See tech information before it hits the newsstands.

  • CNN.com Technology: All of CNN’s great tech resources, including archives of its popular technology TV shows.

  • CNNMoney.com Small Business: Great online articles about businesses that use technology to get ahead.

  • ZDNet: Everything you ever wanted to know about e-commerce, even technical help.

  • CNET: Home of tech news, auctions, hardware and software reviews, helpful hints, Internet tools, and Web building tools.

  • Free Websites Directory: Ratings of free hosts on their reliability, features, ease of use, speed, and size.

Entrepreneurs, Know How to Create a Marketing Plan

For entrepreneurs, an effective marketing plan is crucial. Entrepreneurs need to determine who's going to buy the product and how to let those customers know that you have what they want. Creating a marketing plan is manageable with these steps:

  1. List your options.

    Brainstorm all the possible ways you can make customers aware of your business and what you're offering. Get ideas from customers, suppliers, other business owners, books, magazines, and Web sites.

  2. Think like a customer.

    Put yourself in the customer's position. What does the customer want to see in your business?

  3. Scrutinize the competition.

    What makes your competitors successful? What are their marketing strategies, and how can you improve on them? Where do your competitors fail to satisfy customers? (That's your niche.)

  4. Analyze your options and rank them.

    Scratch options that don't meet your customers' needs or are not feasible at this time. Rank your choices and start writing your plan.

Entrepreneurs: How to Screen Business Ideas Quickly

Entrepreneurs develop business ideas all the time, but how do you know when to pursue one further? Some entrepreneurs have a hard time screening product ideas, but you can do it very quickly by answering a few simple questions. You’re on the right track if you answer "Yes" to the first three questions and very positively to the final two:

  1. Am I excited about this idea or opportunity?

  2. Do others also think it’s a great idea?

  3. Are there people willing to pay for what I’m offering?

  4. Why am I the person to make this happen?

  5. Why should I go forward with this idea or opportunity now?

Questions that Test an Entrepreneur's Product Concept

Thorough entrepreneurs test their product ideas before they begin manufacturing. Even if you're in love with your idea, ask yourself the following test questions, which compel you to look closely at these areas: the product or service; the market it'll enter; the customers in that market; your finances; and your team.

Product/Service What are the features and benefits?
What product development tasks must be undertaken, and what is the time line?
Is there potential for intellectual property rights?
How is the product or service differentiated from others in the market?
The Industry What are the demographics, trends, and life-cycle stage of the industry?
Are there any barriers to entry?
What is the status of technology?
What are typical profit margins?
The Market/Customers What are the demographics of the target market?
What is the customer profile? Who is the customer?
Who are your competitors, and how are you differentiated from them?
Which distribution channel alternatives are available, and which customers will be served by them?
Finances What are your start-up capital requirements?
What are your working capital requirements?
What are your fixed-cost requirements?
How long will it take to achieve a positive cash flow?
What is the break-even point for the business?
Founding Team What skills and experience does the founding team bring to the venture?
Are the major functional areas of the venture covered by the founding team?
What is the nature of the gap, and how will it be filled?
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