Products: Intro to Entrepreneurship

Introduction to EntrepreneurshipIntroduction to Entrepreneurship is a course designed for students of all disciplines and will provide an overview of essential entrepreneurial concepts in a broad context. This course will examine how ideation, business model development processes, and essential entrepreneurial skills are essential to not only creating successful new ventures, but to enabling employees and company team members to become “intrapreneurs”.  Intrapreneurship then becomes a catalyst to advance the career path of the individual, as well as to increase the productivity and longevity of companies.

Students will learn the basic theories and tools used to create successful business models, and they will formulate their own business idea, create a dynamic business plan using concepts learned, and present a pitch for their business idea at the end of the course.  Instructors can also customize the course, incorporating their own material or building the course around an alternate type of project.

Module 1: Entrepreneurship – What Is It and Why Is Everyone Talking About It?

Introduction:  What is an entrepreneur?  Or should we say WHO is an entrepreneur?   The answer is, or should be, everyone. 

Don’t be afraid of the word!  Entrepreneurship is not just about starting and running a company.  It’s about ideas and innovation.  No matter what your profession, discipline, job, or role in life, you can innovate and have an impact by using entrepreneurial principles and skills.

The traditional definition of an entrepreneur, straight from Merriam-Webster, is “a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money”. 

In this module we will define entrepreneurship in broader terms, while exploring what characteristics and actions that make someone an entrepreneur, and how entrepreneurial skills can be learned.

Module 2: Essential Entrepreneurial Skills

Introduction: Not everyone has entrepreneurial skills, but everyone should.  And they can be learned and used in any job, and in life. 

Think about what it takes to be an innovator and the leader of your own journey.  Can you reach your goals by letting someone else tell you what to do and how to do it? 

Most people have their own unique ideas about what it takes to be happy, and how best to achieve that.  Entrepreneurship is about making ideas into something real and valuable.  If you are innovative and use the same skills that entrepreneurs use, you can add value to your life.

Module 3:  Ideas Rule!  Search, Create, Formulate

Introduction: You’re sitting at a coffee shop, and it hits you.  That great idea.  Why didn’t anyone think of it before?  You jot it down on a napkin (or on your Smart Phone).  Maybe it’s a great idea, or maybe you’ll think about it later and realize it isn’t so great.  Or maybe you’ll Google it and find out that it already exists.

So, what if you want to try again?  If you think entrepreneurship of some kind is for you, you need to be able to generate ideas.  Is it a special talent?  Not necessarily.  There are strategies that you can use, and maybe you’ll come up with an idea that will be the Next Cool Thing.

Module 4:  Business Models

Introduction:  “A business model describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers and captures value.” A. Osterwalder, Y. Pigneur and A. Smith
While it's easy to get caught up in the excitement of having a business idea, you need to give some critical thought to the key areas which will make your business a success. In other words, you have to design a viable business model which can provide a system for identifying the value you provide, the customer you provide it for, and the resources that you need to provide it.

Module 5:  Business Plan Elements

Introduction: A business plan is necessary, not only for startup companies that need to raise funds, but for every company and every entrepreneur at any stage. 

A business plan is just what the name says – it is a plan that specifies your goals for your business and how you plan to achieve them.  It will describe your business model, it will map your business strategy, and it will become a tool to measure your progress

Your business plan could potentially be read by a variety of audiences - potential funding sources, partners, key employees, or team members. It must contain all relevant information and be properly structured to be effective.

This module will provide an overview of the business plan sections, their structure, and the type of content that should be included.  It does not cover the concepts or strategies for each section category in depth. You should apply information and concepts covered in the other course material to determine your strategies and create your plan content.

Module 6:  Know Your Space 

Introduction:  Imagine you’ve had a goal since you were a child – winning an Oscar, attending Harvard law school, playing for a sports team, getting to the top ten on American Idol, or running for and winning a political office.   Whatever your goal, you do certain things to prepare.  You practice, you study, you research, you learn everything you can about what it takes to win.  You find out what the judges, coaches, voters, or decision makers are looking for. You learn what skills, experience, and other advantages you need to have. 

You also look at the competition to figure out exactly how good you need to be or what you have to do to differentiate yourself.

When you start a business, you’ll do all the same things.  Your customers are the “judges” and you have to know exactly who your competition is and what you need to do to win.

Module 7:  Define and Design Your Product or Service

Introduction:  Once you have identified a problem in the market that you think you can solve, how do you create specifications and a design for that product?  You may have a vision in mind about what it is, how it functions, and its features – but is that what customers will want?  As you have learned from studying customer discovery and target markets, you have to build something that solves a problem that customers have. But what specifically does that solution look like?  How do you get from an idea to a tangible product that customers will buy? 

Lets say you have learned enough information to envision the right solution to meet your customer’s needs.  How do you create a design or blueprint, and how do you build it?  Can you build it?  Will you have the resources?  How do you keep someone else from building the same thing?  And what do you do if your customers’ needs change?

Some of the answers to these questions lie within the entrepreneurial processes and concepts, and some answers are the nuts and bolts of a startup.

Module 8:  Leadership and Teams

Introduction:  Imagine you’re watching a football game. The center snaps the ball to the quarterback, but the rest of the team runs in whatever direction they want.  No one called a play, so the quarterback doesn’t know what to do with the ball. 

Without effective leadership, the team probably can’t win.  

What if a play was called, but the players didn’t like the call and decided not to do what they were supposed to do?  Again, no yards are gained.  Without effective teamwork, the team probably can’t win.

Business is no different. Great companies have been brought to the edge of destruction through poor leadership and a lack of teamwork, and small companies have risen to greatness with great leadership and great teams.

Module 9:  Know How to Sell Stuff

Introduction:  In Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner is walking through his cornfield one day when he hears a voice that says “If you build it they will come.” Like any entrepreneur, he puts everything on the line to build it including his house, his marriage and his financial future. In true holly wood fashion, at the end of the movie the cars are lined up for miles so that people can come and see what he has built. He built it and they came.

In the real world it’s rarely that easy. It’s not always the most valuable idea or the best technology that dominates the market. It’s the one that people know about and understand the value of. In other words, it’s the one that has been marketed and sold effectively.

Module 10:  It’s All About the Money, Right?

Introduction: One of the greatest mistakes that entrepreneurs make in the startup process is entering the fundraising process too early and trying to raise more money than they actually need. Believing that using other people's money is the only way to start and grow the business, entrepreneurs waste energy trying to attract investors rather than working on the business.

When entrepreneurs raise funds too early, they pay a high price for the funds they receive because investors require a premium for the additional risk they are taking. Trying to raise too much money can backfire and prevent them from raising any money at all. Before you seek funding, it is critically important to have a solid business model and a good understanding of both what funds you need to get started and what funds you will require to grow your business.

In this module, we will discuss how you will make money (your revenue model), projecting revenue, how to determine the financial needs of your venture, and potential sources of funding.

Module 11:  Pitching your idea

Introduction:  Your pitch is critical to your success, no matter who your audience. You must be able to effectively connect with investors, employees, lenders, or anyone else who you want to care about your business.  The pitch is as important as your idea, finding the right customers, and every other part of your business model. 

Your great idea is irrelevant if no one but you can understand it. To be successful, you have to be able to clearly and succinctly describe your idea, why it’s great, and how it will benefit the person you are talking to. If you think this sounds like selling a product, you’re right.  The customer is the person you want to invest in you, or to come on board as a new advisor or employee, and each will have questions, concerns and needs that are unique.  You need to tailor your pitch to address those needs and make the sale.