So you have an idea you want to turn into a product or service?
Have you sought funding unsuccessfully?
What is the SOLUTION?
What the solution is NOT:
Writing a business plan
Conventional wisdom is that you should run off and put together a business plan. Traditionally these are 30-50 page documents outlining your projections for your business. For instance, a conventional business plan will contain a marketing plan, an operations plan, a management profile, cost and revenue projections and any requirements for financing. As the graph below indicates,, business plans have been associated with getting funding:
On average, business plans take an average of 2-4 weeks to complete, which is enough to put many off their idea entirely. Some people get around this by hiring professional business planners. Even if you do that these business planners often cannot produce a very effective document, particularly at the idea stage.
Darlene Menzies, the CEO of SMEasy an online accounting and business management tool based in South Africa, gives the main reason why. According to her experience of getting funding, the main thing investors wanted to see was proof that SMEasy had customers who were staying on its platform, they did not really care about the business plan.
Similarly, Andre Marquis, Executive Director of the University of California at Berkeley’s Lester Center for Entrepreneurship stated:
"Over my career as a serial entrepreneur I observed that since the late 1990s, no early-stage Silicon Valley investor had used business plans to screen investments. Even those who asked for them never read them. Traction and evidence from customers were what investors were looking for”.
So a business plan at the idea stage is unlikely to be effective as you have not demonstrated customer traction.
The reality is that, at the idea stage, you need clients more than you need a plan. So how should you get clients?
So, should you go out build your fancy product or your fancy service offering? Are you confident customers will beat a path to your door once you build it?
Fortune magazine reported, that according to a survey performed by CBInsights, the number 1 reason (42% ) start-ups fail is because they build something no-one wants and the 2nd reason (29%) is because they run out of money.
Conventional wisdom had it that not having a co-founder is the biggest mistake you can make. However new research seems to indicate that sole founders are even more successful. This is according to a study by CrunchBase, as reported by TechCrunch, showing that most (45.9 %) firms that received over US$10 million in funding, were led by sole founders.
However, even if you start alone, no successful entrepreneurs did it alone. Whether external, in the form of family, friends or mentors, or internal in the form of employees or professionals (such lawyers and accountants) every successful entrepreneur had support.
At the idea stage, without paying clients, it may be risky to start hiring staff. Although some organisations, particularly accelerators, do provide free mentoring/advice, many require you to meet certain conditions. In South Africa for example, several incubators focus on a certain segment of the population, while many focus on specific industries. Even more daunting, some organisations require that your company be at least a minimum number of years old and have achieved a certain annual turnover.
So what is the solution?
Introducing the Launch Your Idea Program
My name is Patrick Ache, MBA. As an African (read my story here) I have always been passionate about my continent and helping to develop it. It is my firm belief that more of us need to launch businesses in order to help ourselves and our continent too.
As such, I created Foundersmettle.com, co-founded the Gordon Institute of Business Science’s Alumni Entrepreneurship Club (the "GIBS AEC") and left my former profession as a lawyer working on over 30 African countries to help more people start and grow their businesses in Africa.
Over the past years of helping run the GIBS AEC and being a Business Development Coach & Advisor I have learnt that a combination of factors are preventing many people from successfully turning their ideas into successful businesses, in particular:
- Lack of Proper Planning – A proper plan counteracts fear and procrastination.
- Un-Wise Implementation – wise implementation helps you avoid wasting time and money.
- Lack of support –the right support keeps you motivated, accountable and helps you problem-solve.
That is why I combined solutions for these 3 problems into the Launch Your Idea Program.
How the Launch Your Idea Program Works
We use tested and proven techniques to help you successfully turn your idea into reality.
- The simple one-page business planning tool, that is used at top universities, including Harvard and Stanford.
- The evidence-based method to implement your plan so that you get customers while wasting less time and money.
- Not one, but TWO support structures that have helped many millionaires and ordinary people alike achieve success.
What Does the Program Cover?
This Program covers three main topics:
Many potential entrepreneurs are put off by the amount of sweat and tears that go into writing a business plan.
Not only that, but writing business plans before actually having started your business, is an exercise in guess work – you are not sure what price your customers are willing to pay, or if they will pay anything at all.
So instead of writing business plans we will use the one-page tool, called the Business Model Canvas (“BMC”), as a guide. After all, Benjamin Franklin said it best when saying ‘if you fail to plan you are planning to fail’.
In particular, we will learn how to best use the BMC:
- To persuasively express the value your product/service provides in order to improve your chances of getting clients and/or funding;
- Set strategies to get your initial clients; and
- Determine the revenue models that can be used to earn a sustainable income.
Many budding entrepreneurs are put off from even starting, by the assumption they would need a lot of capital to make their idea work.
This is a misconception.
In fact, having a lot of funding available has led many companies to build things no one wanted.
Examples (according to Steve Blank) are numerous:
- Volkswagen Phaeton. Losses: $500 million
- Jaguar X-Type. Losses: $200 million
- Sony’s MiniDisc players. Losses: $500 million after 10 years of marketing.
- J. Reynolds’ Premier and Eclipse smokeless cigarettes. Losses: $450 million
- Motorola’s Iridium satellite-based phone system: Losses: $5 billion.
Therefore, on the Launch your Passion Program, we focus on using the Lean Start-up method, a method aimed at preventing this, to help you get clients/users with the least waste possible. In particular, we will focus on:
- How to build a mini-version of your product or service;
- How to effectively (pre)sell your product/service; and
- Using customer feedback to decide whether to persevere or change a major aspect of your business model (pivot)
Jaime Tardy from Eventual Millionaire, is a business coach who has interviewed over 70 millionaires and dissects why successful people are successful. Jaime found that most of the millionaires she interviewed belonged to a mastermind group or had a mentor.
Mastermind groups, originally called ‘master mind alliances’, were first mentioned by Napoleon Hill, in his best-selling book Think and Grow Rich. He defined them as “A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose.” He also found them to have been extremely powerful in the success of entrepreneurs, stating:
“Analyze the record of any man who has accumulated a great fortune, and many of those who have accumulated modest fortunes, and you will find that they have either consciously or unconsciously employed the ‘Master Mind’ Principle.”
Here are examples of successful people who belonged to mastermind groups:
- J.R.R. Tolkien (author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) and C.S. Lewis (author of the Chronicles of Narnia) were phenomenally successful authors who belonged to the Inklings, a group of writers from Oxford University;
- Benjamin Franklin, belonged to the Junto, a mastermind group of 13 individuals, that went on to establish the very first U.S. lending library; and
- Jaime Tardy, mentioned above, belongs in the same mastermind group as Pat Flynn, the founder of SmartPassiveIncome.com. They both credit a lot of their success to their mastermind groups.
The Launch Your Idea Program provides you with a mastermind group AND a mentor.
- You will be a member of a mastermind group of between 3-5 people, who will provide you friendly support, assistance and encouragement during the duration of the Program and beyond.
- I will be your mentor guiding you through the tools and techniques necessary to turn your idea into a successful reality.
The support the Business Idea Launch Program will provide you, will help you overcome the obstacles standing in the way of turning your idea into a successful reality.
- A copy of the best sales book of all time.
- Facilitation of your first 3 master mind group meetings post the Launch Your Idea Program.
|1st Sat 2017||PLANNING|
|09h00 – 09h30||Introductions: who is in the room and (more importantly) why|
|09h30 – 10h15||Planning: Introduction to our planning tool|
|10h15– 11h00||Brainstorming session|
|11h00 – 11h15||Tea break|
|11h15 – 12h00||Planning the approach:|
|12h00 – 12h45||Practicing the approach|
|2nd Sat 2017||IMPLEMENTATION|
|09h00 – 09h45||Review of last week’s progress|
|09h45 – 10h15||Pivoting done right|
|11h00 – 11h15||Tea break|
|11h15 – 12h00||Planning the steps to building an MVP (Minimum viable product)|
|12h00 – 12h45||Brainstorming|
|3rd Sat 2017||(PRE) SELLING|
|09h00 – 09h45||Review of last week’s progress|
|09h45 – 10h15||Selling your MVP: secrets to successful selling|
|10h15– 11h00||Planning your approach|
|11h00 – 11h15||Tea break|
|11h15 – 12h00||Practicing your approach|
|12h00 – 12h45||The Way Forward|
How can you join? The criteria for admission:
- You have a (or several!) business idea(s) (Idea);
- You get along well with people (Friendly);
- You are growth-oriented (Ambitious); and
- You are action-oriented (a ‘Doer’).
If you meet the above criteria, then
*To ensure quality interaction, spots are limited*
Once you join:
You will be assigned to a group of between 3 to 5 individuals, who will all be carefully selected for both uniformity and diversity.
Uniformity: all selected group members will sign a code of confidentiality to create a safe space for the sharing of ideas.
Additionally, every effort shall also be made to match group members based on their business goals, level of commitment (part-time or full-time)
Diversity: Every effort shall be made to have different skills and backgrounds represented in each team, so as to ensure each group is enriched by having varied perspectives.
How Much Does it Cost?
IF successful, you will be invited to join the Launch Your Idea Program. The Program Dates and Costs are below:
- 2nd, 9th and 16th of September 2017, Johannesburg, South Africa: R4000
Note: 2 scholarship places are available based on financial need, additionally Launch your Idea is being pre-sold at a discount, to be eligible for either the scholarships or the discount you need to apply before 17h00 on 18 August 2017.
100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE
90-day money back guarantee from date of commencement of the Program. NO questions asked.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I don’t have a business idea?
If you do not have a business idea, I suggest you sign up here for my free course on how to find the right business idea that incorporates your passion, attributes (such as strengths and skills) with market opportunities.
What if I want to write a book?
A book is a product. So this Program will still be relevant.
What if, I have many business ideas?
Just pick one for now.
Which one? The one you feel is the closest match to your current abilities and resources.
Nobody says you can’t, in time, launch several business ideas.
After all, where did the term serial entrepreneur come from?
What if I do not want to launch a business, but rather a non-profit?
The principles remain the same, but the Business Model Canvas will be modified slightly to take into account the different aspects of the business model of non-profits.
Yes, I said business model.
A business model is made up of for main components: value proposition, processes, resources and revenue stream. Since non-profits require resources, revenue models and processes to deliver value to their beneficiaries, they thus all have business models to support their missions.
What if I want to postpone or cancel my participation.
If you need to postpone your participation for unavoidable personal reasons, we can arrange postponement till the next Program dates.
You can cancel your participation and receive a full refund 90 days from commencement of the Program, no questions asked.
What if one or several of my mastermind group are a negative influence?
The prime reason mastermind group work is a foundation of respect, courtesy and overall friendliness.
During the Program, if the majority of a group reports in writing that a participant is a negative influence on the Group, I will investigate and attempt to first resolve the issue through consultations with the Group members. If the issue is not resolved after collective consultations, then the Group will be asked to recommend a solution.
At the end of the program, each group will agree to ground rules to govern continuing mastermind meetings and the consequences of breaching said rules.
Can I afford this right now?
That is a question only you can answer.
As an investment in your future this course is very affordably priced. I wish this course had been available when I was thinking of doing my MBA.
Don’t you hate going to networking functions, or attending courses where the other participants have very different reasons for being there? Some may even be there just to be out of their office. This Program is focused because everyone on the course will share your vision, to launch a business, product or service they are passionate about.
Many business schools are theory focused, I should know, I attended one! Even our entrepreneurship courses were full of theory! Do case studies help you, as a budding entrepreneur, become an entrepreneur? The Program will focus on ‘experiential learning’ by using concepts in PRACTICE.
Finally, most business schools are not efficient in getting their students to create businesses. After all, they are educational establishments. Even the duration of their courses (from 1 to 2 years for MBA programs) mean they CAN’T be that efficient as they lose revenue if you don't complete their course. The Program, on the other hand, is focused on getting you from business idea to launch as efficiently as possible, with 3 to 6 months being the target.
Is an online version available?
An online version of this Program will be launched if there is sufficient interest to warrant it, please tick the ‘Online’ option in the application form.
How much time does it take to launch one’s idea?
The in-person Program itself will take place over 3 consecutive Saturday mornings.
The online version of the Program’s duration is likely to be over 12 weeks (One 1-hour online class every week).
As far as launching your idea that depends on how hard you work.
With the tools and techniques learnt during the Program and the support of your master mind group, I expect you to have launched your product or service within 3-6 months.
How often SHOULD I work on launching my idea?
The more you work the faster you go.
If you're looking for a lazy way to launch your idea, this course isn’t for you.
But if you're willing to work HARD. This will work.
What is unique about this Program
Well, me for starters....
As previously mentioned, this Program, as opposed to any classroom course, is focused on practically and efficiently getting you from idea to product/service. Not for study credits, but for practical knowledge and networking with like-minded people.
Additionally this is an ideal program for those who have an Africa-focused business idea. This is because, with my experience and wide networks on the continent, I can offer practical advice and connections to the right people across West, Central, East and Southern Africa.