Learning fast

The prevalence of start-up shows and “best business” awards should provide all the guidance, and warnings, that any small business needs to know. But there may still be a gap between the clarity of any start-up business model and what investors or partners need to know. For many the vision is so obvious it’s sometimes hard to translate into clear business language, and some high tech business is so “out there” that it can be hard to get a meaningful snapshot of the potential. Over here in the UK we have Dragons’ Den , a show where small businesses pitch for capital from would-be investors. Albeit that its entertainment, it can be an education as business people do their pitch, some convincing, some successful, some very poor presentation even though their idea or product may have been sound.

So what does it take to succeed?. A recent article from Dan Martin, quotes David Hulston, who advises there are six key questions that all businesses need to answer in describing themselves:
What is the problem you are solving?
What is your product or solution?
Who are your customers?
What is your USP?
How does it scale?
How much money do you need and what do you need it for?
It’s the first three that determine whether you have a business and the last three that are relevant in determining the value of the business.

So there you have it. Even if you are not trying to win awards or get funding those six questions get to the heart of the essential business issues. They may be phrased in slightly different ways but essentially if you build a business plan around those issues, you will have a good plan to go forward with. If you can reduce it down to 30 seconds you then have your elevator pitch as well.