Characteristics of a Good Venture Plan

  1. Presents a clear explanation of why the venture concept is a significant opportunity.
  2. Provides a concise description of the venture's products or services.
  3. Provides a clear, rational explanation of why the venture idea is better than anything else already available.
  4. Succinctly explains customer benefits in qualitative and quantitative terms.
  5. Provides a clear explanation of the one or two things the company does best.
  6. Focuses on market-driven opportunities.
  7. Provides evidence of customer acceptance of the venture's products and services.
  8. Presents evidence of the marketability of the products and services.
  9. Presents a quality, sophisticated, experienced management team, advisors, and board of directors with complementary and encompassing business skills.
  10. Gives a clear sense of what the founders expect to accomplish in 3 to 7 years.
  11. Provides a rational explanation of why the investor should trust the management team to do what they say they are going to do.
  12. Identifies all the alternatives available to prospective customers.
  13. Addresses how the venture will develop and sustain a distinct competitive advantage.
  14. Addresses how the venture will develop and sustain a proprietary position.
  15. Contains reasonable financial projections with key data explained and justified.
  16. hows how and when the venture will generate sustainable positive cash flow streams.
  17. Describes the manufacturing and/or service delivery processes and associated costs in appropriate detail.
  18. Explains and justifies the level of product development required.
  19. Justifies financially the means chosen to sell the products and services.
  20. Supports credible growth projections.
  21. Provides a clear explanation of how the money invested in the venture will be used.
  22. Shows how and when the venture will generate sustainable profit.
  23. Shows an appreciation of investor needs.
  24. Shows how investors can cash out in three to seven years, with an appropriate return on their investment.
  25. Provides a clear explanation of what the investor will get for their investment.
  26. Identifies significant risks and proposes rational contingencies.
  27. Has the right appearance...not too fancy, not too plain.
  28. Is arranged properly with the executive summary, table of contents, and chapters in right order.
  29. Is the "right length"...not too long, not too short...to convey all the pertinent information.
  30. Is plausible throughout.
  31. Has facts rather than opinions
  32. Is quantitative rather than qualitative
  33. Stresses specifics rather than generalities
  34. Reads like a combination of the Wall Street Journal, a model of good business writing, and USA Today, a model of good story-telling

Technology Readiness Levels (TRL)

Most every new innovative idea has a fuzzy beginning. The idea may have potential, at least in someone's mind, but it also likely has "holes" in it.

Will it really work? What about this, what about that?

If we were to score this new idea, from 0 to 9, where would it be? Turns out, the European Commission has created a well-vetted method for scoring new ideas based on the stage of progress ... 0 being conceptual, 9 meaning the idea is out there and doing well in the world.


Types of Creativity

  1. Expressive ... Very common form of creativity.  Example: Doodling, short notes, humming a new melody.   Useful for communications, advertising, sales.
  2. Productive ... Common form of creativity.  Example: Finding a better way of doing a job.  Useful for process improvement, cost reductions, efficiency, improvement.
  3. Inventive ... Userful for new product development.
  4. Innovative ... Applied creativity.  Better solutions than competition.  Competitive advantages.   Useful for marketing, new product development.
  5. Emergenative ... Very rare form of creativity.  Example: Einstein's Theory of Relativity...opened the door for space travel, nuclear fusion.  Useful for developing entirely new industries.

Brainstorming

A good way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas from which to choose! 

  1. Brainstorming is a Creativity Supertool and also a team sport ... support your team members!
  2. No criticism ... no "devil's advocates" allowed!
  3. Anything goes … wild, crazy, impractical, ingenious ideas encouraged!
  4. Go for quantity, not quality, of ideas!
  5. All ideas encouraged!
  6. Piggyback, improve, combine ideas ... be an "angel advocate"!
  7. Record all ideas so nothing gets lost!
  8. Filter ideas later, not during the brainstorming session!
  9. Set a time limit for the session, then stick to it!

Variation ... brainwriting: the general process is that, in a group, ideas are recorded by each individual who thought of them ... they are then passed on to the next person who uses them as a trigger for their own ideas.

Traits of Successful Innovators and Entrepreneurs

Able to accept rejection ... able to build new structures ... able to build on the strengths of others ... able to communicate non-verbally ... able to concentrate ... able to control and direct ... able to cope well with novelty ... able to creates internal visualizations ... able to elaborate ... able to escape perceptual set and entrenchment ... able to express themselves ... able to fantasize ... able to find order in chaos ... able to focus ... able to get along well with others ... able to go beyond logical expectations ... able to handle abstractness ... able to identify problems ... able to imagine ... able to juxtaposition two or more incongruities ... able to keep an open mind ... able to keep options open ... able to make independent judgments ... able to observe trends ... able to organize ... able to perform "miracles" ... able to resist jumping to premature conclusions ... able to see inside-out ... able to solve collision conflicts for which there are no readily apparent solutions ... able to synthesize or combine ... able to think logically ... able to think metaphorically ... able to translate ideas into action ... able to use existing knowledge as base for new ideas ... able to use wide categories and images ... able to visualize ... able to visualize the future ... action-oriented ... adaptable ... adept with numbers ... alert to gaps in their knowledge ... alert to novelty ... ambitious ... analytical ... articulate ... attracted to challenges, not risks ... aware and empathetic of the needs of others ... aware of the world around them ... basically knowledgeable of their target area ... bold ... breaking the boundaries ... charismatic ... colorful ... confident ... considerate ... creative ... creative in a particular domain ... curious ... driven ... earthy ... emotionally appealing ... emotionally expressive ... emotionally stable ... empathetic ... enthusiastic ... ethical ... exciting ... expecting success ... expressive ... flexible ... fluent in areas of expertise ... full of energy ... futuristic ... get along well with others ... good at maintaining interpersonal relations ... good at timing ... good communicators ... good judgment ... good leaders ... good sense of timing ... have good communicative ability ... healthy ... humorous ... imaginative ... in good health ... in need of feedback ... in need of high achievement ... in possession of a positive attitude ... independent ... independent in outlook ... independent in thinking ... innovative ... inquisitive ... intelligent ... intense ... inventive ... know how to organize ... knowledgeable ... listeners ... lively ... loaded with energy ... logical ... looking for opportunities in problems ... looking for problems to solve ... magical ... maintain good interpersonal relations ... not status seekers ... not willing to give up ... objective in their approach to interpersonal relationships ... open-minded ... original ... possessing a sense of urgency ... possessing a vivid imagination ... possessing stamina ... possessing superior conceptual ability ... possessing supra-rational creative abilities ... possessing wide and varied interests ... productive ... proud of what they do ... rational ... realistic ... resistant to closure ... resourceful ... self-confident ... self-starting ... self-sufficient ... sensible ... sensitive to problems ... skilled decision makers ... skilled in good judgment ... sociable ... stimulated by variety ... tactful ... take pride in what they do ... unwilling to conform ... welcome responsibility ... willing and able to make decisions ... willing to accept responsibility ... willing to ask "why?" ... willing to invest in the future ... willing to question norms and assumptions ... willing to solve puzzles ... willing to take a chance ... willing to take calculated risks ... willing to work hard ... word fluent ...

Choosing a Name

Picking a name for a new venture, product. or service is not easy. It may well be one of the hardest things we'll ever do in our venture.

Picking the wrong name could prove disastrous; the right name (brand) could add many sales dollars.

The following checklist should help. However, it is unlikely that any name will meet all these criteria, and there have been many successful names that met but a few.

Good luck!

  1. Can we get the .com URL for the name we want? 
  2. Is the name distinctive?
  3. Is the name instantly recognized?
  4. Is the name easy to remember?
  5. Is the name pleasant to see?
  6. Is the name pleasant to say?
  7. Is the name easy to spell?
  8. Is the name itself confusing?
  9. Is the name easily confused with other names?
  10. Is there a connection between the name and the product, service, or business venture it represents?
  11. Does the name suggest what the business venture, product, or service does? If not, the tagline that accompanies the name may have to carry more communications weight.
  12. Is the name descriptive of the benefits offered by the product, service, or business venture?
  13. Does the name convey the proper image?
  14. Does the name fit customers expectations?
  15. Does the name reinforce customer expectations?
  16. Are there any negative connotations with the name
  17. Is the name limiting?
  18. Does the name coordinate with other names used in the organization?
  19. Does the name work in all target markets?
  20. Can the name be legally protected? Check with USPTO.gov and your state corporation commission to see if the name you want is already taken. If it is, start over!
  21. Can the name be used in other countries?

Competitive Research

  1. Who are our primary competitors?
  2. On what basis do we compete?
  3. What are our competitive positions?
  4. What are our respective market shares?
  5. What are their strengths?
  6. What are their weaknesses?
  7. What are their primary opportunities?
  8. How are they a threat to our venture?
  9. How do you compare to our competitors?
  10. Who are our future competitors?
  11. What strategic opportunities exist in the market?
  12. Can we collaborate rather than compete?
  13. What are the barriers to future competition?
  14. Who are the most likely future competitors?