If you're getting ready to start a new venture or if you're looking for a new idea, I'd HIGHLY recommend you purchase this book. It's the book I used for my "New Venture Creation" class that I taught at the University of Denver, Daniels. This class is part of the MBA curriculum at DU. I have not found many books that really explain the entrepreneurial process, but this one does. The book is called:
New Venture Creation:
Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century
Timmons, Jeffry; Spinelli, Stephen
McGraw-Hill Higher Education
I'd recommend you get the latest edition you can find. The advantage of new editions is that the case studies are newer / more relevant. They continue reworking content too. I believe they are on the 8th edition at this point. Here's what the 8th edition looks like - you'll see the edition number on the cover - it's pretty difficult to read the print however.
This is the 7th edition, which is the version I taught my classes from - the version is in the lower right corner of this book:
I like this book for a number of reasons, so I'll lay out the reasons by the chapters in the book that I really like:
Chapter 1 - "The Entrepreneurial Mind" - people have a lot of beliefs about what an entrepreneur is, looks like, thinks like, etc. In other words, they read to try to figure out if they "fit the mold." Well...there isn't a mold. ANYONE can be an entrepreneur...with the right partner anyway. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. If you have weaknesses, then you need to find a partner or partners who fill those gaps. There are core attributes that make some people better for the job than others (determination, leadership, motivated) and there are traits that are not good (know it all, dependency, impulsive) - both of those trait types are listed in this chapter. There are a lot of myths about entrepreneurs - I love this exhibit in this chapter. Things like we are born not made, we are gamblers, we want the whole show to ourselves, we must be young, unless you had a 600+ on the SAT you'll never make it, and the list goes on. The exercises in the chapter are great because they help you craft your own strategy. I think the bottom line is that most people go into businesses they understand. That means that starting a business right out of college is tough - but once you have a little experience under your belt...you're ready...and at ANY age!
Chapter 3 - "The Entrepreneurial Process" - this chapter talks about the importance (and balance) of a team, the opportunity size, and the resources (money required).
Chapter 4 - "The Opportunity: Creating, Shaping, Recognizing, Seizing" - I like this chapter because it talks about "thinking big enough" which is very important. One small idea is tough to make into an entire business. You're going to dedicate years to make a business successful, so make sure it's a big enough idea! That doesn't mean you have to hit the market with your entire idea from end-to-end, it just means that your idea needs to have a future - many children ideas, etc. This chapter talks about the 4 anchors that make an idea an opportunity. 1) they create significant value for customers, 2) they solve a significant problem, 3) they have robust market margin, 4) they are a good fit for the founders. My favorite exercise in this chapter is the "Idea Generation Guide." This will help you take ideas and figure out if they are opportunities. In my class, students came to the class with 2-3 ideas each...I think everyone has always been amazed at the REAL ideas that they came up with that could be market opportunities!
Chapter 5 - "Screening Venture Opportunity" - this chapter has an excellent exercise called the "QuickScreen" which will help you determine if your idea is fund-able. I'm a bootstrap guy myself, but not every idea is bootstrap-able. There are great exercises and case studies in this chapter!
Chapter 6 - "The Business Plan" - I'm not much of a fan of a formal business plan...at least not as "step 1." I personally believe that you have to start with a PowerPoint presentation that boils your business plan down the essence. You need to be able to pitch your concept to someone in about 5 minutes. You need to be able to give your high level "elevator pitch" in about 30 seconds. But...when you're ready for the formal business plan (after MANY elevator pitches and MANY PowerPoint presentations)...this chapter is helpful!
That's enough for today's blog...maybe I'll talk about the other chapters at another time. The bottom line is that this book is the best book I've ever read about going from an idea to an opportunity to fund raising, choosing your team, and so on.
I understand a lot about this process as I've been through it many times! If I can help you get through this process, please give me a call or send me an email!