Soundview Executive Book Summaries
A Step-by-Step Guide for the New Entrepreneur
Filled from end to end with passion, enthusiasm, encouragement and motivation, Kick Start Your Dream Business is a how-to guide for anyone who wants to take a good idea into the marketplace. Author Romanus Wolter, an international marketing consultant and director of the San Francisco Small Business Development Center, has the ability to turn a seemingly endless list of business requirements and necessities into an inspirational guide to becoming an entrepreneur. He does this by taking the important aspects of starting a business from the ground up and breaking them down into a list of 35 clear and concise steps to success.
Start with a Product Profile
The first step in Wolter's plan is the creation of a written profile of the product to be developed. By defining a dream, an entrepreneur begins to shape the product into something that can be explained and shared with the people who can help to make it real. Then, the author explains, the next step is the creation of an internal and an external intent, which serve to define what the business will accomplish. Once the dream is profiled and the intent is clear, Wolter urges the reader to create a self-contract that describes the idea, its benefits and a date when the business will be launched. He suggests that accuracy will make this foundation more solid.
Next, the author shows the entrepreneur how to gather useful information about the marketplace and competition through market brainstorming, real-life investigation, research and surveys.
After these steps have been completed, the author details the actions that will be necessary to bring theproduct to life. These include developing a reference guide that will help the product to be marketed, which involves a product description, competition information, customer profiles, target markets, retailing ideas, distribution channels, marketing ideas, contact information and the trends that are shaping the marketplace.
The next step is to recognize the opportunities that can make the product successful and the threats that might stand in its way.
The Marketing Plan
Now it is time for a product statement that summarizes goals, the product and a marketing plan. Once this has been accomplished, the product is ready to be sold. This will require a tangible, real-life example to be produced so people can grasp the potential of the concept and jump on the bandwagon to its success. Packaging ideas should be considered at this point as well. Before this prototype is shown off to everyone in all its glory, beware! The fourth part of Wolter's book, "Protecting It," is crucial for finding out what must be done to copyright, trademark and patent the product.
Once the appropriate protective steps have been taken, the product can be made better through contact with the creative energies of others who can help improve it before it enters the marketplace. These are available in the forms of focus groups and other inventors who might have some helpful tips to offer.
The ins and outs of manufacturing, marketing, promotion, price setting, distribution and fulfillment are then revealed in detail, as are the important legal, financial and record-keeping aspects of the business world. Wolter rounds out his book with words of advice about seeking investors, creating a business action plan, and keeping the business growing.
Passion and Practicality
"'Dream like a child, decide as an adult' is the operating principle incorporated into every step in this book," the author writes, and using this mantra, he is able to maintain the passion that will help entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition.
The simplicity of Wolter's suggestions makes them valuable and realistic. He is able to dismantle the intricacies of entrepreneurial ventures into approachable basics that are easy to grasp. Among the important guidelines, brief anecdotes from other start-ups and succinct words of wisdom about the topics at hand, he also includes dozens of useful worksheets, forms and tables to help create, document and market the product at hand.
These, and the time-tested knowledge he imparts, create a one-stop resource for everything an entrepreneur needs to get started, move forward, and turn an idea into a successful product. Copyright (c) 2002 Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Read an Excerpt
Step 1 helps bring your idea to fruition. You have listened to your inner self and your dreams; now you can take steps to change your life. Your profile is a written statement that describes your business and the problem it helps solve. This step lessens the frustration you and those around you may feel when you try to describe your idea. Once you put your idea down in writing, it takes on a life of its own.
This is a difficult step because as you focus your idea, your dream changes, becoming a reality. As it becomes real, you may feel as if you have lost part of it. It may even seem that your idea is becoming small and limited.
These are natural feelings. Before you could change your idea at will, making it anything you wanted it to be. Now you are defining your ideas in words that can never fully express your imagination.
Luckily, when you record your idea something magical happensyour frustration disappears. Writing down your idea establishes a connection between you and the rest of the world. All of a sudden, the world begins to support your goal rather than put up roadblocks. People (including yourself) begin to really understand what you are trying to achieve: friends begin to offer ideas that will help you progress, and contacts who can help you establish your dream business appear out of thin air. By clearly defining your idea, the imagination and heart of others join you to grow and expand your idea beyond yourexpectations.
As you work through this step, don't worry about becoming too focused. The more specifically you develop your idea now, the freer you will be to get carried away in subsequent steps. So use this step to build a firm foundation from which your idea can grow into something fantastic.
Life is about adventure, and establishing your own business is the most fantastic adventure you can undertake. Every adventure needs a launching point, and your Profile is a perfect place to start. Remember, no one can help you implement your idea unless they know what you are trying to achieve. And once they understand, their help will be limitless.
Imagine your idea is a seed being cupped tightly in your hand with nowhere to grow. You can tell everyone what it isa rose, an orange tree, a field of wildflowers. However, a seed without soil, sun, water, or a little nurturing will never grow. People can imagine what the seed would become, but no one will experience or share its beauty unless you open your hand, plant it in the ground, and create an environment for it to prosper.
Just like the seed, your idea needs a great environment and the help of others to grow. So take the time to clearly define your idea now. By the time you actually launch your business, your idea will be shaped and molded by your research, customer input, friendly suggestions, costs, and other information you discover along the way.
Our families, friends, and school system emphasize end results rather than the discovery of what we are meant to do. People may react negatively to your idea because they worry about your future or the heartache you may have to endure to achieve your dreams. They weren't taught to react positively to passion. It is almost as if society teaches us only to worry about the consequences rather than to dream and achieve.
Society lacks a method for recognizing, validating, and implementing passion. Kick Start Your Dream Business helps you define, trust in, and implement your passion. Kick Start helps make dreams a reality.
* SUPPORT FROM HOME
A client of mine, Heather, had an idea for starting her own script reading and film development company. She loved helping people turn their writing into films that would surprise the audience. Heather had a very close relationship with her parents and decided to tell them about her passion. They freaked out. The questioned her endlessly: "How will you make money?" "Don't people in Hollywood just use people and throw them away?" "Do you have the talent?"
Heather was devastated. The people she needed support from the most had turned on her. She was at a loss as to what to do.
Heather came to see me after one of my workshops and explained her situation to me. I simply asked her what she had learned in the workshop that could help her. She thought and then said, "I guess I wasn't clear when I explained it. I'll write it down, get it more focused, and ask them to support me." I nodded and said, "After all, didn't they raise you and help make you who you are today? So aren't they part of every decision you make?" Heather smiled brightly and hugged me.
Heather wrote her letter to her parents and guess whatshe's now helping her father develop an idea he's always had for a story. That's all it takes, letting people know your true intent and asking for their help, not their fears.
1. Obtain a Product Notebook to record all your thoughts, ideas, drawings, and worksheets you develop while reading this book.
Your Product Notebook will help you stay focused and organized. It is your personal workspaceyou can use it to do a brain dump, draw packaging ideas, or write down words that you feel describe your product.
Your Product Notebook can be any size or color. I recommend a spiral-bound notebook to my clients because it is easier to keep specific pages open. A lined notebook will help you keep your notes nearerespecially if you have horrible handwriting like I do!
If you make notes on a separate piece of paper (e.g., a napkin) or find interesting articles, keep them and staple them (or copy what you wrote) into your Product Notebook later. Some of my clients have found it helpful to supplement their Product Notebooks with a 3-ring binder. This binder gives them a place to hold any loose pages (such as articles, pictures, flyers, or marketing samples).
Carry your Product Notebook with you at all times so you can write down any observations or ideas you develop. Your Product Notebook serves three purposes. First, it is a central place to keep your ideas, thoughts, bits of wisdom, and To Dos from this book. Second, it is a record of when and how you developed your business idea. This documentation may become important to you someday if you become involved in any litigation. Third, it will calm your mind and relieve stress because you will no longer worry about losing any of your ideas; they will be preserved in your Product Notebook.
Your notebook can serve many other purposes. A client of mine, Keith, used it to answer people who were skeptical of his idea. When he was meeting with a potential distributor, partner, or investor, he would always set his Product Notebook on the table in front of him. If the person questioned whether or not his idea would be a success, Keith would flip through his Product Notebook explaining all the work he had completed to date.
By using his notebook as a shield, Keith was able to speak about his passion rather than automatically defend his idea. Keith's enthusiasm calmed his potential partnersafter all, if someone is passionate enough about their idea to keep a Product Notebook, they will surely find a way to make their dream a reality.
2. Write down a brief description of your idea.
Don't spend a lot of time worrying about finding the right words, just get your idea down on paper. The rest of the steps in the book will help you clearly define your idea. An example description is: A new eating utensil that makes cutting and eating tomatoes easier.
3. Define the problem that your idea solves and describe how the problem is solved.
By solving a problem, you establish a need (a reason why someone would want to buy your idea) or a benefit. For example, the new utensil mentioned above can help people save time by safely and quickly slicing tomatoes for salads. A book can help people realize that their dreams can come true.
4. Recreate the chart on page 11 in your Product Notebook. Use the chart to list all your ideas about your product.
Do not discount or analyze any ideas. Just write down anything that comes into your mind. This exercise gets you thinking positively and helps build a foundation from which you can create your business.
5. Explain how you came up with your idea.
By telling people how you developed your idea, you involve them in the process. This can also help you defend your idea if someone else tries to steal it from you. (Note: See the movie Working Girl; it's fun, it's inspiring, and the elevator scene near the end shows the importance of documenting how you came up with your idea.) For example: I kept slicing myself while cutting vegetables and decided it was time for a new knife that will slice vegetables but not fingers.
6. Describe how developing this idea will change you, your life, and your relationships with people who are important to you.
Explain who you are now and who you will become in the process of achieving your goal. Once you incorporate your dream into your life, there is no stopping it. You and the people in your life will be changed as your dreams expand and your life flourishes.
7. Set your work aside for one day.
These steps are exhausting. They challenge you to open your heart and mind. You will uncover feelings, thoughts, fears, hopes, and anxieties associated with your idea. Set it all aside, take a breath, and go do something fun. I love going to the ice cream parlor, looking at all the flavors, and realizing the endless combinations. Stretch your imagination by ordering two scoops that you have never ordered before. Sit in your favorite easy chair and enjoy!
8. Look over your answers and absorb what you have written.
Do your words reflect what is in your heart and mind? If so, congratulations. You have set a clear goal for yourself. If not, change your answers so they reflect what is in your heartnot what society expects you to say. This is important. You have to be passionate about your goal to achieve it. It's going to be a lot of hard work, a lot of late nights, and a lot of fun.
9. Assign dates to your goals using the Table of Contents for this book.
Look over the Table of Contents and read the chapter descriptions of the steps you will be taking. Put a date by each chapter heading. Setting dates provides you with goals that will keep you moving forward. It familiarizes you with the process and provides you with answers to people's questions. For instance, if someone asks, "How are you going to finance your idea?" you can say, "Financing comes after I've clearly defined my idea, its market, and how I'm going to produce it." This exercise provides you with the confidence to concentrate on what needs to be accomplished right now. It also shows people you know how to accomplish your idea.
10. Take ownership of your idea by sharing your answers to the previous questions with someone you trust and asking them to support you in the future.
Sit down and write this person a letter, a real letterstamp and allnot an e-mail. Tell them why it's important for you to implement this idea. Don't ask them to evaluate the idea, just ask them to listen to you as you explain it.
You may ask this person to be a mentor or sounding board for you as you progress with your business. Receiving a letter from a friend these days is rare, and it will help this person realize how important this business is to you.
You will spend a lot of time and energy making your idea real. Prepare them by telling them it will be difficult at times, and you will need their support, energy, and understanding to achieve your goals. If they understand your goals, they will become an energy field that surrounds and protects you!
Society doesn't easily welcome passionthere are no "cool" words to express it and many people lack patience with our fumbled attempts to explain it. This book will help you pursue and achieve your dreams. Its steps will help you articulate your passion so people will understand it and will honor your dream.
Now that you have written down what you hope to accomplish, it is time to concentrate on why you want to develop your product. Your personal intent will be the driving force for implementing your dream.
Have you ever known someone who started a project but didn't follow through with it? They worked on it for a while, struggled some, and then decided that it just was not worth their effort. Even if their idea was brilliant, they abandoned it.
I've seen this over and over againand the missing element in each instance is clear. It is passion. Their idea was not connected to their heart. Being passionate about your product is critical for success. Some people explain the reason for business failures to be lack of financing, lack of a proper business plan, or lack of time to implement their business. Passion overcomes each and every one of these obstacles. You may also feel fear, but guess whatthat means you are truly passionate. Fear is okay; don't let it stop you from moving forward.
During this step, you will identify your internal intent (how you will benefit from implementing your idea) and external intent (how your idea will benefit others). Your intent comes from your heart and your passion. By letting your heart and mind mingle, you open yourself up to the fun, joy, and excitement that comes with creating something new. Clarifying your intent also helps other people understand your idea and provides them with the opportunity to help you. This is a powerful step because your intent reflects the reason you are implementing your ideathe benefit it provides. And when you speak about benefiting others, people are often more inclined to work with you.
Louisa, a client of mine, actually warned a new client, "Watch out for the soul discussion exercise. Once you complete it, wham!you're in business."
Details about your product may change over timeits name, packaging, pricing, advertising (to name a few things)but your intent for creating the product does not change so easily. Your intent guides you by providing an emotional foundation from which you can start and grow your own business.
This may sound easy. It isn't. When you speak from your heart, you become vulnerable. Others may attack your idea, causing you to become frustrated and hurt. Don't be. As has often been said, "We can't control the actions of others, but we can control our reaction to them." That is what I want you to practice, believing in yourself and not being worried about how others react to you and your dream.
Society has trained us to react pessimistically to new ideas, especially ones with an artistic bent. Most people point out the faults of your idea first, but given the chance they eventually turn to compliments and, more importantly, to suggestions for improvement. If you shut them up while they are criticizing or giving you their "valuable" opinion, you will miss the ideas they have to help you grow.
To avoid becoming frustrated or hurt, learn to listen. That's rightL-I-S-Ten to everyone and discover any helpful information they have to offer. The first four letters of listen are "L-I-S-T" Do not judge any ideas, thoughts, or critiques people give you, just listen and list. Write down what people have to say and thank them for their insight. You never know which ideas will work for you and which will not. Don't lose them; write them down in your Product Notebook. You are in charge of your business; you can decide whether or not to use someone else% suggestions.
The coolest thing about L-I-S-Tening is that it makes people feel as though they are part of your dream. They feel that they are contributing something to the world, and what better feeling is there? People that you L-I-S-Ten to will become part of your team, and they may bring you that contact you need some day for financing or marketing your business. Congratulations, you have now expanded your marketing team at no cost to you.
* A SOUL ADVENTURE
Kristen approached me with her idea for a new tour company in San Francisco. She wanted to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the city. She knew her idea would work because tourists love visiting and exploring San Francisco.
In Step 1, Kristen stated that she wanted to start a tour company that would take people off the beaten path. She decided that her clients would be tourists and she would promote the tours by placing brochures in hotel lobbies.
As she talked about her idea, she added that she was nervous because there were already many tour companies in San Francisco (over 30 from her investigation). I told her not to worry about the competition yet because she was still defining her idea and a major portion of her idea was missingher heart. Why was she interested in giving tours? What benefits would her tours provide?
Kristen followed the exercises outlined in Step 2 and really focused in on her internal and external intent. Her internal intent was to start a business in which she could combine her love for entertainment with her love for history. She loved exploring.
Focusing on her external, intent, Kristen stated that she had been a businesswoman who traveled a great deal. And one thing that bothered her during her travels was that she never had time to experience the beauty and charm of the cities she was visiting. After writing this down, she decided that her company would target business people who wanted to experience the "real" San Francisco. Further, Kristen decided to concentrate on high technology businesses that were having a hard time recruiting new employees.
Aha! By focusing on her intent, Kristen developed a company based on what she really wanted to accomplisha business that came from her heart. Bay Area or Bust! builds loyalty right from the start. Her customized tours convince prospective employees that her client's company and San Francisco are the places to grow their personal and professional lives. She distinguishes each company from the competition by showing how the sponsoring company has helped grow San Francisco's community, just as they help their employees succeed and prosper.
In just two steps, Kristen had developed a business that stood out from the competition. She began to tell people about her idea, and she immediately had two large companies interested in her producta product she was still defining!
Other people started to refer customers to her, and by following the steps outlined in this book, Kristen continued to grow her idea. Now she has expanded her tours to include relocation services.
By writing her idea down and focusing on her intent, Kristen defined her company in a manner that focused on the benefits she could provide. This exercise helped her differentiate her business. You will accomplish the same thing by completing this step.
Excerpted from KICK START YOUR DREAM BUSINESS by ROMANUS WOLTER. Copyright © 2001 by Romanus Wolter. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved.