So you think you have a business idea?


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Guide to take an idea from conception to launch.

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So you think you have a business idea?

  1. 1. A checklist and help guide for getting started on that venture! Challenging youths to Unleash the CEO in YOU.
  2. 2. 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. Vinod Khosla 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! Exercise 1: What I would devote my life to doing,
  3. 3. Your vision “All that you achieve and fail to achieve is the direct result of your own thoughts” James Allen 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. For example: 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 Exercise 2: My company conviction: (7 words or less) What’s next? 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 THINK BIGGER...
  4. 4. Think Bigger 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!
  5. 5. Understand yourself: Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, was a founder of, a dot-com startup chronicled in the documentary 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. Exercise 4: I can use these skills for my business, Exercise 5: I am confident of developing these skills to help my business, Exercise 6: I need to either develop a minimal competency in these skills or hire someone that has these skills,
  6. 6. 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). Exercise 7: 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 Exercise 8 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, advisors, investors. People I could approach Their skills What value they will provide How to attract them
  7. 7. 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. Exercise 9: 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. Exercise 10: Choose the most important target segment to your initial launch and why you selected it.
  8. 8. 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. Exercise 11: 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: Exercise 12: The company’s brand personality
  9. 9. 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. Exercise 13: 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
  10. 10. Pitch Me: 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 (, from his book ‘Book yourself solid’. Exercise 14: 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 Your pitch: 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--.
  11. 11. 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: Facebook Fanpage: Twitter: Email: Challenging youths to Unleash the CEO in YOU.