Entrepreneurship For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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Prepared entrepreneurs learn as much as possible about their marketplace and what customers want. This cheat sheet helps you test new ideas and weed out the keepers from the also-rans. It poses key questions about your concept, the marketplace, the industry, and your team. It even 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.

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 websites.

  2. Think like a customer.

    Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. What does the customer want to see when they visit your business in person or online?

  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 might be your best 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.

How to screen business ideas quickly

Entrepreneurs develop business ideas all the time, but how do you know when to take a deeper dive? 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  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 to test your product concept

Thorough entrepreneurs test their product ideas before they begin producing them. Even if you’re in love with your idea, ask yourself the following test questions. They compel you to look closely at the following areas: the product or service; the market it will 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 timeline?
Is there potential for intellectual property rights?
How is the product or service differentiated from others in the
The Industry What are the demographics, trends, and life-cycle stage of the
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
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
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?

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Kathleen Allen, Ph.D., is a professor of entrepreneurship at USC. Her books include The Complete MBA For Dummies?? and eBusiness Technology Kit For Dummies??.

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