So You Have a Business Idea…

How to Create a Compelling Business for You and Your Stakeholders

Most aspiring entrepreneurs start with an idea or two — a  product or service they believe will launch a successful business. Why, then, do so many ideas fail?   

For Stanford University professors Michael Lepech, Pedram Mokrian and Mike Lyons, it’s all about research, planning and execution. The trio are no strangers to the rigors of product development, with decades of hands-on experience and a keen understanding of the challenges facing entrepreneurs. In their on-demand webinar, they share what it takes to bring a successful product to market and discuss the important role that opportunity assessment plays in the journey from great idea to successful business model.

Watch Full Webinar

Answer 6 key opportunity assessment questions

In many cases, a seemingly sound business idea will fail to take off because the entrepreneur made the common mistake of seeing a business opportunity that, in reality, was never really there. How can you accurately assess the marketability of a potential product and gauge commercial demand? Lepech, Mokrain and Lyons present an opportunity assessment framework revolving around six fundamental questions:

1. Why?

Successful products and services need to fill a customer need. That may seem obvious, but  often product engineers and entrepreneurs will become overly attached to a particular technology or solution that doesn’t fit that criteria. If potential customers don’t have a compelling reason to buy that product then it’s destined to fail, regardless of how great the underlying technology is.

2. What?

Even if you have targeted a pressing customer need, you must be certain that your business idea is the right solution to fill that gap in the marketplace. It can’t “kind of” address customer needs; it has to be the answer. Again, it may sound simple, but if you don’t nail these fundamentals, your business ideas will never come to fruition.

3. Where? 

Market analysis is an important step when building out any new business plan, but where many entrepreneurs go wrong is taking too broad of a view. It’s important to dig deeper into customer demographics and better understand what motivates the groups or individuals who make up larger markets.

4. How?

Bringing a product to market involves a lot of logistical work, and successful business models find a balance between the value given to the target customers and the value received from the vendor or seller. Every decision should support the overarching goal of putting your product into your customers’ hands.

5. When?

What does pretty much every successful company have in common? They were all in the right place at the right time when they had their first brushes with success and subsequently capitalized on those opportunities to carve out their own space in the market.

While this may seem to rely on luck when it comes to timing product launches, thorough market research can go a long way to understanding when the conditions are right to release your product. If you recognize that you’re either a little early or late to the party, that can inform your go-to-market strategy.

6. Who?

The right team can make all the difference for a startup business that’s just beginning to find its footing. The smaller an organization is, the more impact each employee will have on its operations and outlook for success. Putting the best people into leadership positions from an early stage will help fledgling businesses create a winning company culture.

Aligning your business idea with this opportunity assessment framework is essential if you want to bring a profitable product or service to market. Register for the webinar today to learn more about this fundamental step in the product development cycle. 

Watch Full Webinar

The full webinar addresses a lot of important material that is covered in more detail through Stanford’s online innovation and entrepreneurship program. Once you’ve watched the webinar, dig deeper into the skills and knowledge necessary to be a successful entrepreneur in today’s market by taking a look at the Stanford Innovation and Entrepreneurship Certificate program.