Reference Corner

Secondary School Division

Development of Innovative Ideas Module

Chapter 1: Creation of Vision

Developing an innovative business idea will not just come from a thought that flashed through your mind. Before you carry out a lot of research work to study on the feasibility of your business idea, you first have to create a vision. A clear vision helps you draw a picture about how you will run your future business and let you imagine the position you will be standing at in the whole market.

In order to achieve your vision, you will have to know your own strength and interest. Remember, the success of your future project will mostly depend on your special skills and it will be the time for you to show people your real strength. Also consider what kind of business is suitable for you according to your own interest. There is absolutely no reason for starting a business that you don't have enough interest in. You should therefore always develop your own interest into business ideas.

You will see your business’ position in the market through your vision. This position is called the "Niche". Think carefully to design your product and/or service to keep away from direct competition with others. Your niche will drive customers to find your product and it is very important if the customers will only find your product in this particular area.

The following sections contain the main elements that will help you create a vision for your business. Without these elements your objectives will become unclear, wrong strategies will be used and target outcome will not be achieved.

A) The Vision Statement

Not too many small business owners will care to write down a vision statement. However, successful entrepreneurs will not skip this action since they always regard the result that they want to be the final mission for their business.

A vision statement represents the aim that you want to achieve. The vision statement has to be in short and should be described by one sentence. A small fast-food restaurant may put down a mission statement as "To achieve a net profit of one hundred thousand dollars per year" while the mission statement of a large hamburger chain-store might be "To open six branches at the end of the first year and go franchise to achieve 100 branches in five years".

B) Determine Self Strength and Interest

Starting a business needs special talent and effort. Although initial mistakes are not always fatal, it will take a lot of time and skills for you to recover the loss. Think through important steps before actual planning. In coming up with a business idea, you may have to consider what special skills and interests do you have. Ask yourself the following questions and find out the right kind of business field that you want to go in.

  • What do I like to do most during my spare time?
  • What special skills have I developed from my career?
  • Do I have any hobbies or interests that can be sold?
  • What kind of services can I provide?
  • What kind of products do I know how to manufacture?
  • Can I deliver a better product than the ones already existing in the market?
  • What expertise can I bring to the business?

Your answers to the above will help you find a clue of what you can input into the new business project. Improve your business idea if it is not matching your strength and interest.

C) Finding a Niche

A market is actually too large in size for a particular business to conquer. In fact, a company should find out different market segments in order to sell specific products or services to specific customers. Do market research as thoroughly as possible to discover your niche.

Once you have found your own niche, search for any competitors who are already in this area. Study their products carefully. Perfect your product and design a good pricing model to avoid clashing directly with these competitors.

If you have explored a new niche, try to set some barriers where new comers cannot easily enter into such market, e.g. obtaining patent or registering for copyright for your own kind of products or services.

D) Develop Self Interest into Business Ideas

It is clear that most people are generally more interested in hobbies such as sports, music, movies and video games than thinking about creating business. A very simple way to get yourself interested in developing business ideas is to ask yourself to create a product or service that is related to your favorite hobby and think of ways for making it the best product or service in the whole world. For developing this kind of interest you may go through the following procedures:

  • Choose a product or service that is relating to the most favorite hobby of yours and think of the disadvantages of that product or service. For instance, if tennis is your favorite hobby, think of your tennis racquet and consider its weaknesses that do not satisfy your requirement.
  • Next, think of ways that can improve the quality of the product or service which makes you satisfied. For example, if you find your tennis racquet too heavy, try to think of a material to replace it which can produce a lighter racquet body but can still maintain the rigidity and vibration control.
  • Tell your friends about your new idea and ask for their view. You may also notify everyone you know who is familiar with this particular product or service.
  • Think together with friends and compete to give better ideas to improve and streamline the product or service. From this you will understand that achieving successful business idea is a mental reward that money can measure.
Chapter 2: Market Survey

Besides creating a vision for your business idea, you will need to perform a market survey for your product or service. Market survey is like a pre-market-research. It gives you a first idea whether you can sell your product or service in the market. This should be done before you perform further research work on your business idea like your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, the start-up cost for the business, and the size of the market, etc.

From the beginning, you will not know whether the customers in the target market will buy on your goods or not. The simplest way to solve this problem is to ask them directly. Design some questionnaires and carry out the survey as broadly as possible. These survey questions may include:

  • Have you bought this product before?
  • Where did you buy this product?
  • At what price are you willing to spend on this product?
  • Why do you have to buy this product?
  • Where would you look for this product?

There are some tips you should remember while carrying out your market survey:

  • Think carefully what you should ask. Do not upset people with your questionnaire. They won’t bother to give you a true answer.
  • Keep your survey short and no more than ten questions. You will scare off people with multiple-page forms for overusing their time.
  • Design some questions for detailed answers. Long comments are often more valuable than just answers in yes or no.
  • Plan for a fair amount of population. Determine how many people you should ask in order to make this survey valid.

Huge market research work can be time consuming and costly. Start off with a small market survey will save a lot of hard work while achieving early information for your business idea.

Chapter 3: Setting Goals for Your Business

Goal setting is a powerful tool which will drive you to succeed on creating a business idea. In this chapter you will discover the impact of goal setting, how to set goal for your business and the meaning of visualization.

A) The Impact of Goal Setting

Goal setting is very important to one’s business life. It reminds you in your heart on what you should achieve from time to time. A study by Yale University in 1953 found that only 3% of all the people had set their goals, and this 3% owned 97% of all the people’s total wealth.

For successful business goal setting, you have to find out your own personal goal first. Next, you should regard your business a tool for achieving your personal goals. By this means, you will be able to work out how to maximize your returns from your business, and hence, you can easily set goals for your business. You can also break down your business goals into different parts such as sales goals, customer goals, product goals, etc.

B) Step by Step Approach for Goal Setting

Here are five steps that will help you achieve your business goals.

  1. Mark down your goals

    Writing out your goals shows your determination towards your goals. Adding action plans and deadlines make you commit more to achieving your goals.

  2. Share your goals with someone important

    Getting support from family members, friends and business partners will increase your drive to achieve your goals.

  3. Review your goal achievement progress

    You won't achieve your goals if you don't follow your action for achieving them. Set them in your schedule and review them regularly.

  4. Refine your goals if necessary

    If you find that you did not do much for certain goals or you feel that you will never achieve them, find out why. They may be too big or there might be too many goals. Honestly review the necessity for these goals and make suitable change to them.

  5. Successful goal accomplishment

    Reward yourself for achieving every single goal, even on a small one. This will give you more drive for achieving all other goals.

C) Visualization

Lee Iacocca, former Chrysler CEO and former Ford president, said, "The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind." Always visualize yourself achieving your goals and you will achieve your goals.

For instance, if your goal is to run a successful business, close your eyes and picture yourself in your mind on how to operate and make profits. This will give you more confidence in running your business in the real world. Do this regularly and you will find yourself less tense when reaching your goals.

Goal setting forms an important part in creating your innovative business idea. Setting your own goals will help you easily find out your business objectives.

Disclaimer:

This content is provided and written by Di & Cooke Company Limited who has granted permission to the Hong Kong Polytechnic University for the use of this material to support the learning and development of all the participants who have entered the PolyU Innovation and Entrepreneurship Student Challenge.

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