Yesterday, St George’s Lecture theatre was packed with loads of you waiting and willing to develop your skills on our Skill Build programme. This semester, we are looking at entrepreneurship and will be developing your knowledge on business start up, business legal matters and much much more. The first session was centred around how you come up with a business idea and how you can critically evaluate it. We also talked about the Business Model Canvas, which is a great way to scope our your business idea. Don’t worry if you missed the session, this blog will give you the basics of what we covered.
Firstly- how do you come up with a business idea?
There are various methods of how you can come up with a business idea. This could be a hobby that you decide to turn into a business, it could be an opportunity that you spot, it could fill a need that you have and you think other people have too- the list is endless. However, one of my favourite ways of coming up with a business idea is to think of three nouns and a verb and then come up with a business idea that connects all of them. For example, our lovely Enterprise Research Support Officer, Chrissy gave me the words taupe, ping pong ball and kettle and the verb jiggling. My business idea is to have a ping pong ball that you put in a kettle that jiggles when it gets hot enough to drink (without having to fully boil the kettle). This ‘valuable’ product would then be sold in shops nationwide and 50% of the profits would go to a Cancer Charity which would provide wigs etc to people undergoing chemotherapy.
So how do you evaluate a business idea?
Again, there are many ways that you could evaluate a business idea. You will need to conduct some primary research and secondary research. Primary research is where you talk to people and get customer validation of your product- will they buy a special ping pong ball for charity? How much will they pay? Do they get fed up waiting for a kettle to boil? Secondary research is research where you get someone else’s research from the internet. In this case, you could find a report on how many wigs are needed every year for cancer patients, on average how long it takes to boil a kettle or what materials you need to make the ping pong ball out of.
Another one of my favourite tools to evaluate a business idea is De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats. This is where you use different types of thinking in order to evaluate your business idea. So let’s evaluate my ping pong ball….
Blue Hat- The blue hat is represents the process. The question that this would raise is that would this actually work. Would it bounce all over the place instead of just changing colour when it is safe to drink.
White Hat- The white hat is all about the facts. This could be something like more than 331,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2011. This hat should use all of the research that you have already gathered.
Red Hat-The red hat discusses feelings. Will people buy the product because they feel as if they have a connection to the product. Also, my gut instinct on this is that this business is that it is going to work.
Green Hat- Creativity and new ideas is what the green hat represents. Is there anything else we could use this ping pong ball for? Could we put it in boiling pans so that we know when it is ready to put rice, veg and pasta in to cook?
Yellow Hat- These are the benefits to having this product. For example, people will be supporting the charity and will be reducing their time they have to wait for the kettle to boil, therefore they will want to buy this product.
Black Hat- These are the cautions around your business. The negative aspect of this is will the product actually work and is the market ready for this product?
To help you understand the concepts a bit more, why not check out the Prezzi that is part of the blog. This should help you develop your knowledge. If you did attend, you might notice that I haven’t said anything about the business model canvas. Well, keep an eye out for part 2 of Skill Build 1 which will help you further develop your business idea.
For those of you who don’t know, Skill Build counts towards HEAR and the Sheffield Graduate Award. You need to attend five out of seven sessions and pass an assignment in order to get the Skill Build Award. There is still plenty of opportunity to get involved in Skill Build. Why not check out the Skill build webpage to find out more and to register. (Thanks to Little Miss B for the image)