November 30, 2021
In this episode, we dive even deeper into ways that your competitors can help you shorten your learning curve as a business owner and thrive in your industry.
Your competitors are a goldmine of all kinds of information that can help you gain a foothold in your market, avoid traps and pitfalls, and build a profitable business faster.
Building on our last episode, Let Your Competitors Help You (Pt. 1), we explore two more examples from Terry’s experience as a life-long entrepreneur and Small Business Advisor of the incredible benefits you can gain from reaching out to your competitors (as scary as that might sound).
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Design a business model that can actually generate the income you want and take the first steps toward launching your new business in 2022.
Google Sheets Template
Here’s How the Bootcamp Works
Click on each tab below to reveal the objectives and action steps for each week of our 8-Week Accelerated Startup Bootcamp.
Our 8-Week Accelerated Startup Bootcamp happens all on Zoom, email, and direct message collaboration with our Team.
After you sign up for the Bootcamp, you’ll be able to select a convenient date and time for our first Zoom Meeting together.
Once we’re on Zoom for our first meeting, we’ll take a few minutes to introduce ourselves. We’ll ask you to tell us about your business idea and where you are in the “startup” process.
We’ll go over the Bootcamp process and make any adjustments, as needed for your situation. We’ll determine the best direct messaging channel/app for us to collaborate through during the Bootcamp.
We’ll also determine how to organize all the files, documents, and tools we create together for your business.
Finally, we’ll jump right into the objectives for Week 1!
Our Goal in Phase 1 of the Bootcamp is to confirm that your product/service or business idea is a high potential opportunity that you could build a profitable business around.
“42% of Small Businesses Fail Because of No Market Need”
Phase 1 is about making sure that you get past this “42% Failure” hurdle by confirming that there is a need for your product or service and there are enough potential customers for you to build a profitable business.
In Week 1, you will get your idea “out of your head and on to paper”. You might be creating a new product or service. Or, you might be starting a retail store, restaurant, manufacturing business, or an online business with a digital product or software service.
Whatever your situation, our first step will be to create a visual model and a written description to clarify your idea. If you have an actual product already, that will be great, but not required.
Next, we’ll look at the marketplace that you will be operating in, to see who your potential customers will be and what your competition will look like.
In Week 2, we’ll begin validating your idea with real industry insiders and potential customers (and even a competitor or two).
Interviewing industry insiders and potential customers is the “gold standard” for preparing to launch a successful business.
We’ll use your research findings from Week 1 to create a list of initial interview questions. Then, we’ll find and contact at least one industry insider and one potential customer about scheduling a live interview (Zoom call, over-the-phone, or in-person).
These first couple of interviews will get you familiar with the process of setting up and conducting interviews. You will get some practice and have a chance to start developing your own technique. You’ll add interviews as you become more comfortable.
Your objective in Week 3 will be to schedule and conduct live interviews with 10 industry insiders and 10 potential customers.
We’ll also encourage you to identify a couple of your direct competitors and talk with them as well. These discussions will be a little different than those you have been doing with potential customers and industry insiders. They will be more focused on the nuances of doing business in your market.
The results of all these interviews will provide you with enough data and feedback to determine if your idea has a high potential for success and then to move forward confidently with Phase 2 of this Bootcamp.
IMPORTANT: If you have difficulties scheduling enough interviews, or if the feedback you receive causes you to consider pivoting your idea in a totally different direction, don’t worry!
We will help you to get you back on track, even if it takes you a little longer than 8 weeks to get through the Bootcamp.
By now, you have refined and validated your product or service or business idea (or you’re well on your way), and you feel confident that you have a product/service/business that will have a high potential for success.
In Phase 2, we will walk you through the rest of what needs to be done to get ready to launch your business. Then, we will help you organize everything into a clear and concise Business Plan.
Question: Why do Banks, Venture Capital Firms, Angel Capital Investors, and the Small Business Administration require that you have a Business Plan to apply for funding?
Answer: Because they know that your chances for success are increased dramatically by doing the research and planning necessary to manage and grow your business.
Whether you will finance your startup with your own savings, or you will need outside funding for your business, creating a plan that demonstrates exactly how you will build your business, and answers the important questions that investors and bankers would ask you, will significantly increase your potential for success.
The work you have done in Phase 1 will be the foundation of your Business Plan.
In Week 4 we’ll lay out just how you will create and assemble your own business plan. The good news is that you are already almost half-way there!
This week, you will start by accurately describing your Target Market and then creating your Marketing Plan.
In Week 5 you will identify everything that needs to be in place before you launch your business. For example, you may need workspace, furnishings, equipment, inventory, website, computers, software, packaging materials, vehicles, etc.
And then you will determine and describe exactly how your business will operate day-by-day, and what systems and people you’ll need in place after your launch. If you will need to build a team, this is where you will describe the people, their skill sets, their responsibilities, and how you will lead and manage your team.
Finally, you’ll start getting familiar with the four main financial tools (Cash Flow, Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss, and Break-Even) that you’ll use to map out and calculate your basic business finances.
82% of small businesses fail because of cash flow problems (according to SCORE)—in other words, they ran out of money.
You will learn how to manage your cash flow and how to avoid the risk of “running out of money”. You will also learn how to design your business to be profitable and stay profitable from day one.
Forecasting your financials is easier than you think. You do not need any special training or skills. We will be right there with you to guide you through. And I’ll make a “soft promise” that you may even find that “finance can be fun!”
You’ll begin Week 6 by creating your basic financial projections and any graphs, charts, and tables to help you understand, summarize, and present this information to potential investors, bankers, or future team members.
You will calculate exactly how much money you will need to launch and operate your business. You will project exactly at what point your business will breakeven and become self-supporting. And you will learn how to measure and manage the financial performance of your business.
You will be using tools that are simple and easy to understand and work with, and we’ll walk you through every step.
Then, we’ll wrap up Phase 2 by completing the remaining sections of your business plan and bringing them all together into one unified document.
As you will see, most of the content for these remaining sections has already been created in weeks 1-3, so you will mainly be reviewing the material that you already have, and then adding anything that you may have overlooked or that you feel might need more attention.
And then you will bring all of this together in your Business Plan in the following format:
We’ll be right there with you all the way through this process.
We believe that you will find this whole process much easier than you may have been thinking. And you will learn why it is so important for you to do the research and write your business plan, rather than having it done for you.
When you complete the work and finalize your Business Plan, you will have developed the competence and confidence that it will take to deal with whatever you may encounter on your journey to building the business of your dreams!
In Phase 3, you will create a compelling fundraising presentation to help you explain or pitch your business idea to family, friends, lenders, investors, and potential employees or partners.
You have done the research, refined your product/service/business idea, tweaked your Value Proposition, developed a solid and strategically sound plan for successfully launching and growing your business. All of this is now recorded in your Business Plan.
Our objective in Week 7 is to distill your Business Plan down into a powerful “movie trailer” that will inspire friends, family, potential employees, partners, investors, lenders, to understand and believe in you and what you’re doing.
This is where you will transform your Business Plan into a compelling story, your hero’s journey.
This week you will be writing the script for your presentation and selecting visuals to help bring your story to life. We will guide you through this process.
Week 8 is about getting your presentation on video, and then practicing and tweaking it until you are happy and excited with the final version.
Note: You don’t have to share your video with us–that will be totally up to you.
However, if you are comfortable with letting the BizActually Team take a look, we will be happy to give you direct feedback on your presentation and your delivery.
The reason for filming yourself presenting to an imaginary audience is to enable you to create and perfect a powerful, persuasive, compelling presentation that will inspire others to join or support you as you bring your vision into reality.
Based on Terry’s experience working with hundreds of students and clients creating and perfecting their presentations, we can predict with confidence that you will probably be a little embarrassed by your first performance and that you will be amazed and proud of your final performance.
No special equipment needed. No special training required. Just your phone or computer, your script, and a sense of adventure.
We’ll be there to help you.
Congratulations, you’ve completed our 8-Week Accelerated Startup Bootcamp!
Depending on your plan for moving forward and launching your business, you’re now ready to begin meeting with real lenders and investors to pitch your business.
Or, if you plan on funding yourself for the early stages, you now have a solid plan, backed by plenty of evidence, research, and careful strategizing, to go live and “open your doors for business.”
You are ready to start implementing your plan and take the next step in your entrepreneurial journey.
Or, if you’re still working on the objectives and action steps for any particular week or phase in our 8-week Bootcamp, that’s okay!
You’ll have access to all the Bootcamp materials and resources as well as the tools we created and customized for your business. Just keep moving through each objective at your own pace.