A checklist and help guide for getting started on that venture!
Challenging youths to Unleash the CEO in YOU.
Why are you doing it?
“ Entrepreneurs are far less successful when they are trying to make money. They
are much more successful when they have a mission to change the world.
Whatever your value proposition is, it should have the goal of making the world
a better place and you should feel passionately about your contribution.
If you don't have this and you run into an obstacle, you get stuck. If you are
passionate about your product and your message, you can power through
problems more easily.
Co-founder of Sun Microsystems
(now owner of Khosla ventures)
Why is this important?
You may think you have the best idea, but ideas alone won’t build companies. In fact, if you talk to
enough people, you might even find they thought of something similar before you did.
What makes you different?
Simply, the way you approach the idea and power your way through to success (or a spectacular
failure). The difference lies in the way you develop the idea, the resources you surround yourself
with and the commitment and sacrifices you are willing to make to “make the world a better place”
or at least make your customers’ lives better.
What do you think is worth devoting your life to?
You’re in for a roller-coaster ride with your business. Being your own boss comes with its down-
sides, you constantly worry (sometimes into the wee hours of the night), you sometimes take
tremendous financial and emotional risks, you sacrifice time with friends and family, so make sure
that your business idea is something worth doing!
What I would devote my life to doing,
“All that you achieve and fail to achieve is the direct result of your own thoughts”
What’s your conviction?
Your conviction is the reason you will succeed in your business. It is the reason the brightest minds
will want to join your company. It is the ideal or moral compass you hold your actions up against.
It is not your company tagline. Neither is it a vision/ mission statement. You can worry about that
when your company is doing so well, you have the time to think up your vision/ mission statement.
A law firm: Uphold everyone’s right to be defended
A yogo Studio: Making fitness fun
A weight loss program: Building self-esteem
A retail label: Making high fashion affordable
Budding CEOs (Our conviction): Inspiring young entrepreneurs to get involved
My company conviction: (7 words or less)
Now that you have the business idea, your next step is not to create a powerpoint presentation or
word document. Or even check if the domain name you want is available.
The next step, is to understand what the idea really is and then think how you can take the already
brilliant idea in your head, and
Now, you have an idea in your head. You think it will be profitable and I know you’re already
excited and want to get started. For now, contain your excitement (and temporary delusions) let
the adrenaline subside a little and think... What if....
What if... money was not an issue.
What if... you could hire anyone you wanted.
What if... your business was already profitable and you plan to expand.
Exercise 3: What would you do differently?
Were you tempted to skip this exercise?
If you were, you are not alone. Entrepreneurs often face this dilemma. What makes you so special
that you can do almost anything. You can take heart in the fact that the most successful
entrepreneurs did not have the background to create a multi-million dollar company.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook started the company when he was in Harvard. Mary-Kate
and Ashley Olsen commercialized their image at 7 years old and at the age of 21, Forbes ranked
them, collectively, as the eleventh-richest women in entertainment, with an estimated net worth
of $100 million. Oprah Winfrey wasn’t born into a life of riches. Li Ka-shing started out at 15 as a
laborer in a plastics trading company after his family feld to Hong Kong from turmoils in China.
Larry page and Sergei Brin started Google as a research project. In 2007, both of them had an
estimated networth of $16.6 billion.
We may not yet be playing in the same league as these people, but we can still think bigger in our
own businesses. Make sure you complete this exercise so you know the potential your idea has!
Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, was a founder of govWorks.com, a dot-com startup chronicled in the
documentary startup.com. In its three years of existence, the company burned through $60 million
of venture money and eventually sold the company at a loss.
Since then, Kaleil has been coaching other entrepreneurs using the hard-earned and now very
public lessons he had to learn from that venture. The first chapter in his ‘entrepreneur’s success kit’
is to know yourself.
Similarly, these questions will help you understand yourself better and that knowledge of self will
be crucial to the future success of your business.
I can use these skills for my business,
I am confident of developing these skills to help my business,
I need to either develop a minimal competency in these skills or hire someone that has
Find your shipmates:
Starting your own company is a lot like sailing on board a ship. Occasionally you get to dock, to hire
new deckhands, replenish your resources, but for the most part while at sea, you have to make the
most of the resources you have on hand.
With that in mind, pick people who subscribe to your company’s conviction (See Exercise 2) or
you’ll have a mutiny on hand. Also pick people that complement your skill sets and character that
you’ve written in (Exercise 4 - 6).
Look at your answers to Exercise 6: Skills you need to develop or hire someone that has
them. And list people you know that you can approach. Look at these people as possible
co-founders/ early employees.
People I know with the skills I require to succeed:
Skills I require People I know Why this person
This exercise will be more challenging. Go online, search your social networks, read expert
sites, attend networking events, anything you can think of and find great people that you
don’t personally know that can contribute to your success as co-founders, employees,
People I could approach Their skills What value they will provide How to attract them
Is there a market need?
In a talk to VCs, Angels and Entrepreneurs, Joichi Ito (Entrepreneur, Investor), emphasized the need
for start-ups to focus on the distribution of their products to succeed. He says, proving you have
positive viralty is important to the success of your venture.
In this section, you are going to rack your brains to explore strategies to get users. It is
important here to understand who your first customers are and the best ways to reach them.
List all the possible customer segments and how to reach them.
Customer Segments Characteristics of each segment Channels to reach them Likelihood of virality
Now that you’ve identified all possible customer segments, it is important to identify which
segment to target first. Use a combination of ability to pay, likelihood of word of mouth and how
easy it is to convert them into a customer, spokesperson for your company.
Choose the most important target segment to your initial launch and why you selected it.
Positioning your brand:
Now, that you know your customer segments, it’s time to think about your brand image. Take the
time to make sure you come up with something that will be relevant years later.
Seth Godin, urges you to position against the leader, if a dominant leader already exists in the
marketplace. If not, you get the opportunity to be first to brand yourself. Do it well and your
community will react against anyone that tries to copy your branding.
Identifying your brand personality.
List your personality traits in column 1. Use columns 2-4 for your co-founders.
My personality traits Name: Name: Name:
The company’s brand personality
Get Started (Finally):
This is where most people trip, stumble and fail. They have great plans for their business, but they
fail to recognize that it is important to get momentum for your business by taking the first few baby
steps. So roll up your sleeves and make sure you take action to get your business up and running.
Create the first baby steps for your business. (Get all of these done in the next 1-2 weeks)
Task Deadline Status
Pick a company name
Get your domain name
Build a website
Print a business card
Find your team
Talk to potential customers
Seek out advisors
Find your main competitors
As you start speaking with people about your business idea, you’ll find that you have only a
few moments of attention to get them to understand what you do.
Here is a good framework for your elevator pitch created by Michael Port
(www.MichaelPort.com), from his book ‘Book yourself solid’.
Part 1: Summarize your target market in one sentence.
Part 2: Identify the 3 biggest problems the market faces
Part 3: List how you solve these problems
Part 4: Include the most dramatic result
Part 5: List the results and deepest benefits your clients receive
You know how --Part 1-- do, are, or feel --Part 2--
Well, what we do is --Part3--. For instance, --Part 4--. The benefits are --Part 5--.
About Budding CEOs
The great companies of tomorrow will be technology-based and will involve tapping the
wisdom of crowds and community. They will be companies that focus as much on the benefit
to society as the bottom line.
It is these values that we set out to build Budding CEOs around. A community that motivates
each member to focus on how they can turn knowledge into action and passion into
meaningful entrepreneurial ventures.
We are inspired to help youths and first-time entrepreneurs take the same leap.
Join us in our dream.
Join the Budding CEOs community
Our website: www.BuddingCEOs.com
Facebook Fanpage: www.Facebook.com/BuddingCEOs
Challenging youths to Unleash the CEO in YOU.