The Hypothetical Entrepreneur – The Successful Business Plan

From Adam Scouse:

In my previous post, I delved into research techniques and explored new tools like AttaainCI to help me along in my market research.  Now I am left to decide what to do with the huge piles of information that I gathered.  I guess it is time to write up a business plan…

As I hike further into the hypothetical business process, I have heard mixed reviews about business plans.  Some professors I have talked to are very adamant about a standardized format which makes up the backbone of the company.  Others, such as business acceleration center VT KnowledgeWorks director Jim Flowers, had a more laid back approach.  He asks just three simple questions to determine the probable success of a company.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this business plan situation.  Did I take the strict and traditional approach recommended by my Wood Products Management professor Dr. Henry Quesada or did I simply write up the necessities?  Just then I was hit with a large serving of entrepreneurial luck.  Guest speaker Richard Daugherty, director of the Virginia Tech Business Technology Center, arrived at my Wood Products Business class to discuss the requirements of a successful business plan.

Mr. Daugherty started by defining the business plan as a company’s resume, a document used to prove you have something that the people want.  But he reminded us that this game is no Field of Dreams.  Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.

The management class then took a look at four different business strategies used to differentiate a company:  low cost, technology expertise, quality, and customer service.  According to Mr. Daugherty, a business would need to focus on only one of the strategies and excel in that area.  Mr. Daugherty also agreed that the traditional business plan format may not always apply.  The plan however, must tell a compelling story.

  1. Customer Centric – meeting a customer’s perceived need
  2. Competitive Advantage – offering a truly different product or service
  3. Creating and Capturing Value – combining value in the eyes of the customer and in terms of business profitability
  4. Company Culture – creating an environment that is consistent with the business strategy
  5. Consistency of Focus – executing  business practices that follow the business strategy
  6. Conscience of Cost – costs need to be matched with those presented in the business plan
  7. Serendipity C – being able to take advantage of that “lucky” break

After the lecture I walked away with new questions to ask about my hypothetical business.  How would I create a differentiated product?  How could I make sure I was capturing the largest possible value from the product?  These are by no means easy questions to answer, but if I can address them and put in the hard work up front, then the payoff will be sure to follow.

The Hypothetical Entrepreneur considers differentiated products

You can follow the full series of posts by Adam Scouse for Handshake 2.0 at The Hypothetical Entrepreneur.

Adam Scouse is an intern for Handshake 2.0, a member company of business acceleration centerVT KnowledgeWorks, located in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, a technology park, a research park, and a science park on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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