Reference Corner

University Division

Development of Innovative Ideas Module

Chapter 1: Creation of Vision

Developing an innovative business idea will not just come from a thought flashed through your mind. Before you perform your extensive research work to study on the feasibility of your business idea, you first have to create a vision. A clear vision helps you sketch a framework about the mode of operation your future business is going to adopt and let you foresee the position you will be standing at in the entire market.

In order to achieve your vision, you will have to realize your own strength and interest. Remember, the success of your future project will essentially depend on your expertise and it will be the time for you to demonstrate your real strength. Also consider what kind of business is suitable for you according to your own interest. There is absolutely no point for starting a business that you don't have enough interest in. You should, as a result, always develop your own interest into business ideas.

You will project your business’ position through your vision in the market. This position is the niche. Think carefully to design your product and/or service to keep away from direct competition with others. Your niche will navigate customers to find your product and it is extremely important that there will be only your product in this absolute position the customers will reach.

The following sections contain the main elements that will help you create a vision for your business. Without these elements your objectives will become obscure, wrong strategies will be applied 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 regard the desired outcome as the ultimate mission for their business.

A vision statement represents the aim that you want to attain. The vision statement has to be brief and should be described by one sentence. It is about how your company will realize its social benefits by serving its purpose, and is achievable in reality. 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

Launching a business needs special talent. Although initial mistakes are not always lethal, it takes extra time and skills to recover the status. 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 identify the right kind of field that you want to be involved in for avoiding business failure.

  • What do I like to do most during my spare time?
  • What special techniques have I developed from my career?
  • Do I have any hobbies or interests that are marketable?
  • 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 contribute to the new business project. Refine your business idea if it is not matching your strength and interest.

C) Finding a Niche

A market is generally too large in size for a particular business to conquer. In fact, a company should identify different market segments in order to deliver specific products or services to selected potential customers. Do market research as thoroughly as possible to identify your niche.

Once you have found your own niche, search for any competitors who are already in this category. Study their products carefully. Refine the specification of 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 up to your satisfaction. For example, if you find your tennis racquet too heavy, try to think of a substitute material 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 feedback. You may also notify everyone you know who is familiar with this particular product or service.
  • Brainstorm with friends to compete in giving better ideas to improve and streamline the product or service, to understand that mental rewards are derived from learning experience and success should be measured in ways other than monetary value.
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 your product or service is sellable in the market. This is done before you will perform further research work on your business idea such as your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, the start-up cost for the business, and the size of the market, etc.

Initially you would not know whether the customers in the target market will consume on your goods. The most straightforward way to solve this is to ask them directly. Design some questionnaires and perform 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 offend 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 more valuable than just answers in yes or no.
  • Plan for a fair amount of population. Determine how many people you should approach in order to make this survey valid.

Extensive 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 in obtaining initial data for your business idea.

Chapter 3: Setting Goals for Your Business

Goal setting is a powerful tool which will enable you to succeed in 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 subconsciously 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% possessed 97% of all the people’s total wealth.

For successful business goal setting, you have to identify your own personal goal first. Next, you should regard your business an instrument for achieving your personal goals. By this means, you will be able to determine 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 sectors 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 experience remarkable success in accomplishing 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 accomplishing your goals.

  2. Share your goals with someone important

    Getting support from the closest persons to you like family members, friends and business partners will increase your motivation to achieve your goals.

  3. Review your goal achievement progress

    You are less likely to achieve your goals if you don't keep track of your progress for accomplishing them. Set them in your schedule and review them regularly.

  4. Refine your goals if necessary

    If you find that you lack progress on 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 assess the necessity for these goals and make appropriate adjustments to them.

  5. Successful goal accomplishment

    Reward yourself for achieving every single goal, even on a small one. This will give you more incentives for accomplishing 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 in achieving your goals and you will achieve them.

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 achieve the target return. This will give you more confidence in running your business in reality. 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. Determining your own goals will help you easily identify your business objectives and the mission that your company should achieve.

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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