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Choosing the Best Business Idea

Think you have a hot business idea? Put it to the test.

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Thinking up a great idea is a first step;it’s critical that you take the time to thoroughly examine the idea that’s to become your future livelihood. As most business owners eventually learn, it’s not the person running the business, the marketing or the employees that make or break a company’s success; it’s the quality and profitability of the idea behind the company. When you go into business, you have to look at the idea or opportunity driving it from a different angle from what you might assume. Most people wrongly choose a business based on one of two personal biases:

It’s a business they already know. The hairdresser opens a salon, the lawyer his or her own practice and so on. Generally, a huge mistake. They’re thinking about the job, not the business. Just because you’re a good chef doesn’t mean you know how to run a restaurant. More important, it doesn’t mean a restaurant would be successful in your market.

It’s a product or service they’ve fallen in love with.Again, just because you love something doesn’t mean a profitable business will come of it. This is especially true for first-time entrepreneurs. Learning to run a business is hard enough; you don’t need to make it any harder by doing something you love rather than something customers love paying you a good profit for. How can you be sure your intriguing idea is also something from which you can truly make a profit? There are three essential considerations:

1. Make sure the product or service has a repeat buy. This is by far the most important aspect of long-term business success. You have to have a product or service that people will keep buying. It’s better and more profitable, in my opinion, to have a pool cleaning company than a pool building company, for example. Put another way, a business owner should focus on getting a customer once, but making a profit from that person for a very long time.

2. Be certain you have a high profit margin. There are very few companies that can compete long-term on a “we are cheaper” marketing platform. In any new business, you need to watch your cash flow – and if you’re trying to work with low profit margins and make gains in volume,you’ll need to have a high level of working capital to keep you running through the lean profits early on. Having a higher margin is extremely important when you’re growing a business so you can self-finance your growth.

3. Build a strong support team because a good idea isn’t enough. The idea counts most, yet a quality idea must still have a great team of people behind it to give it wings. Time after time, when people bring me a business investment proposal or an idea they want to take to market, I ask them who’s on their team and they respond with something crazy like: “Oh, we haven’t hired anyone yet.” Get a board of advisors. Get a team of professional accountants, coaches, lawyers and bankers. A great team will greatly improve the chances of success for any business.

Once you understand this, the question is,which industries are gold rushes right now? With an ageing population, health and leisure are growing industry segments. Professional advice is at an all-time high in many fields. Or, you may want to look at my old favourite: staple products and services, like paper or plumbing, that you can deliver justa little better than the competition. One last point: start with the end in mind.Look for an idea you can take national or, even better, global at some stage.It might be fun and a challenge to establish yourself locally right now, but eventually you’ll want to build something much bigger.

Quick Tip

What would I choose if I were going into business today? I would start with one premise and some hot industries. The premise is, you don’t make money panning for gold, you make money selling pans. Get in the way of a buying frenzy, and you’ll be a success. The fastest way to make a restaurant profitable is not by having a great chef and great décor; it’s by attracting a starving crowd with money.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Business Model

Organisational Design Disruptions Do Not Occur In A Vacuum: Future Business Models

What is the shape of the world in which models need to operate and how do they come together to build future value?

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In today’s ever-changing world, organisations are using a disruptive business model design to build unique approaches to creating value and organisations that are ready for the future.

At all scales, from micro-enterprise to multinational, operating in multiple settings and contexts, rethinking business models has become one of definite ways of offering customers something truly better than what already exists.

To ensure sustainable business growth, businesses need to navigate modern economic development and societal issues and in so doing articulate what meaningful, inclusive and enduring value looks like. In the past, a linear approach to business model design may have sufficed – inputs enter a logical process that creates outputs of value.

Today, to truly deliver a value proposition that can flourish, an understanding of the way that complex adaptive systems come together to create both outputs and outcomes is required. ACCA identified12 characteristics that organisations are combining as they build new business models. The full model and characteristics can be read here.

The accountancy profession is well placed to support the growth of business models of the future that help build resilient, inclusive and prosperous societies, by leading in strategic roles. In order to be ready to make the most of these opportunities professional accountants will demand new skills. Financial acumen, technical knowledge and ethical judgement are attributes that the accountancy profession can uniquely bring to support business model innovation across the three spheres of value proposition, value creation and value capture.

Related: How SMPs Can Support Businesses Looking To Internationalise

But to navigate the contours of a changing economy, new mindsets are required. These include the ability to:

  • think like a system
  • understand how to capture and assess new sources of value
  • build creative capabilities to think differently and problem solve
  • adopt a long-term mindset.

Business models of the future: Systems, convergence and characteristics attempts to answer fundamental questions; why does business model innovation matter? What is the shape of the world in which models need to operate and how do they come together to build future value?

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Business Model

Developing A Business Model That Works

Use these six tips to create the financial section of a business plan that will get your company off the ground.

Scott Duffy

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The following excerpt is from Scott Duffy’s book Breakthrough.

What’s the first step in figuring out how to execute your big idea? Creating a working model for your business.

We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking that the best way to do this is to sit behind our desks and write a long, detailed business plan. You know the kind: It starts with a fancy cover and your mission statement, then describes your team, market, product, competition, and so on.

Most entrepreneurs spend a lot of time and resources writing their plan. Too often, they get feedback from all the wrong people. Their friends and family want to support them, but they’re telling the entrepreneurs only what they want to hear — that they have come up with the next Google or Apple or Tesla (keep in mind, none of this feedback is coming from customers).

By the time the entrepreneur gets to the last section in the business plan — the financials — he’s totally sold on the idea. Sometimes the financial section is left unfinished or dropped entirely as the business is launched.

And why not? We’re passionate. We’re committed. We know we can’t fail. So what are we waiting for? Let’s go!

Here’s the problem: Most entrepreneurs change their business model six times when working through the financial section of their plans. While running the numbers, they identify key distinctions with regard to income and expenses. They gain a deeper understanding of what it will take to break even and how to achieve free cash flow. As a result, they come up with better-informed strategies for attaining their desired financial outcomes.

The most important part of the initial business planning process, and the one people most often neglect, is getting your numbers to tell a story that makes sense for you and your investors. If you start at the beginning of the plan only to learn that your assumptions about the business don’t add up once you reach the end, you’ve lost valuable time and money.

Related: The Top Business Models For Your New Start-Up Business

Regardless of whether you’re in startup or growth mode or moving to the next stage of your business, mistakes can be costly, so here’s what I recommend:

1. Start with the last page first

Once I have a basic understanding of what I’d like to build, the market, my target customers, the busi­ness opportunity, and the product, I dig right into the numbers and create a simple one-page spreadsheet that clearly identifies how the money flows. Basically, I write business plans backward. I’ve learned that once the numbers tell the story you want, the rest of the plan will write itself.

2. Don’t wait

Don’t make this process more difficult than it needs to be. Limit your model to one page. Create the simplest, most basic spreadsheet you can that identifies income, expenses, breakeven, cash flow, and the capital required to achieve your outcome. Use conservative assumptions, and don’t rely on best-case scenarios.

3. Get out of the office

You’ll learn more about your business by getting into the market than you ever will sitting behind a desk. At least 50 percent of your time should be outside the office gathering information that can be applied to your plan. That means contacting industry insiders to learn more about the market, talking to prospective customers about their needs, and testing your competition’s products and services.

4. Be careful who you listen to

When we have an idea we passion­ately believe in, we’re convincing. It’s easy for our family and friends to tell us we have a winner on our hands because they want to be supportive.

But when you’re modeling your busi­ness, the people whose feedback matters most are current and potential customers. Listen to what they have to say and apply what you learn to your model. Let their feedback, and not your enthusiasm, sway your projections.

5. Don’t throw out negative feedback

Sometimes it can be difficult to absorb negative feedback in a constructive frame of mind because we’re so close to our projects and have so much on the line. We start rejecting and deflecting feedback that isn’t in line with what we believe.

But honest, educated feedback is like gold — use it to open your mind and ask tough questions about your assumptions. You must be obsessively committed to asking what you can learn from this feedback and how you can apply it.

This is especially important for people entering new markets where they don’t have prior experience. Getting feedback from others who’ve lived in the space will add to your perspective. Sometimes you’ll learn that there are things you don’t know as a newcomer that would significantly impact your financial results.

In fact, this holds true throughout your business’s lifetime. The entrepreneurs I know who’ve built the most successful and thriving businesses are obsessed with getting constant feedback from the marketplace and adapting their businesses based on evolving market needs.

Related: Developing a Stable Business Model

6. Be open to what the numbers tell you

The worst thing you can do is try to manipulate a model to match your assumptions. You need to approach your financial model with a completely open mind.

Recognise that it will probably take longer than you ini­tially thought to get to market, generate revenue, create profits, and accumulate the cash flow you need to operate and further invest in the business. By being open, you’ll be able to make distinctions, apply them to your business, and set yourself on a path to success.

You need to be clear on where you want to go and put a simple and adaptable plan in place to help you get there. The clearer your vision is upfront, the easier it will be to back a plan to help you get there. Being obsessed with customer feedback will enable you to tweak strategy in a way that evolves with the market and helps keep you on top of the competition.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Business Model

4 Types Of Business Models To Suit Your Business Concept

There are four main types of business models, see which one suits your business concept.

Alison Job

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Different types of business models suit different types of businesses. A business model is the way that a company sells products to its customers. It describes how a business creates, delivers, and captures value.

What type of business model should you adopt?

A business model defines how the enterprise delivers value to customers, gets them to pay for that value, and converts those payments to profit.

There are four basic types of business model that any for-profit business will fall into:

  1. Manufacturer
  2. Distributor
  3. Retailer
  4. Franchise.
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