From education to employment

How graduates can go from idea to startup

With over half of graduates planning to start their own business and go it alone, how can aspiring entrepreneurs benefit from accelerated learning programs?

Aspiring entrepreneurs need more than just a great business idea – they need to take a multidisciplinary approach if they want to succeed.

Writing business plans, managing finances, designing prototypes, analysing data, creating an investor-ready pitch, and measuring impact are just some of fundamental skills they will need.

These skills can be taught via various entrepreneurship accelerated learning programs. Let’s take a look at these essential skills and why they’re necessary.

Start with a business plan

Planning is key to any project. The business plan defines the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of every business. It describes what you are going to do and how you are going to achieve it.  

Alongside explaining your great idea and vision, the business plan gives entrepreneurs the chance to map out goals and give step-by-step guidance on how to grow and expand their idea and turn it into a successful business. 

The plan should contain financial information including estimated revenue and costs, how capital will be raised, and how investors will be sourced. It can be used as a tool to convey the vision to potential investors.

It is important that those studying entrepreneurship learn key business planning skills including how to: define the business concept; write a market analysis that describes client prospects and the competition; position the business; and explain all the financial aspects.

Learn how to crunch those numbers

Where is the funding for your startup going to come from? Aspiring entrepreneurs need to have a defined strategy for raising capital as well as clear breakdown of how they intend to spend it.

It is not just this initial funding that will need to be raised. With the statistical odds stacked against startups in their first year of operation, it’s important to plan how to manage ongoing costs and handle unexpected adjustments.

In fact, the cost management plan needs to cover not just the first year. It needs to look ahead to the first three to five years. Cash flow is king to the entrepreneur and if this isn’t managed well, it can leave your business vulnerable. Learning how to establish and maintain a budget is therefore critical. 

At the beginning of the business cycle, there will be multiple upfront expenses. If it is not feasible to afford a full-time bookkeeper, learning how to manage finances using accounting software will save you critical time in administration, analysingcash flows, and keeping your taxes organised.

Design and plan a prototype

Aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking at bringing a product to market must understand the importance behind planning and designing a prototype. A product prototype is the three-dimensional version of the entrepreneur’s vision and one of the most exciting and creative parts of the process.

Building a prototype delivers many advantages including testing and refining the functionality of the product’s design and discovering new limitations, challenges and opportunities that are only easy to spot when you see the product in three-dimensional form.  

A well-designed prototype will allow entrepreneurs to be taken more seriously, by both investors and the marketplace alike.

Ethics are essential in entrepreneurship

Ethics can often be overlooked in entrepreneurship due to the pace involved in building and scaling a business. With entrepreneurs wearing multiple hats, prioritising learning and practising good business ethics sometimes takes a backseat and the pressure to cut corners in a startup is high.

Examples of good ethics in entrepreneurship include:

  • Financial transparency with investors;
  • Ensuring the product’s reliability before it ships; and
  • Building trust and rewarding employees

Can you sustain a generous benefits package over the lifecycle of the startup? 

It is not just social entrepreneurs who should want to establish a trusted reputation in the community or with their product. All entrepreneurs should be seeking ethical ways to engage their company within the wider community.

Perfect pitches to woo investors

Once your business plan is optimis edit can be adapted into a concise and persuasive pitch.

A convincing pitch should always include:

  • a summary of the business idea;
  • the problem that’s being solved;
  • market size and competition;
  • the financial overview;
  • a discussion of challenges;
  • and explanation of the next steps.

Being confident in the pitch delivery, sticking to the agreed delivery time and being articulate in delivery will come with practice and experience. 

Big Data equals big opportunities

Understanding how to interpret and analyse data is an essential skill that aspiring entrepreneurs must learn. Data has the ability to generate new business insights, improve operational processes and collect customer intelligence.

With exciting new technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence being used in predictive analytics, understanding how data is used within the dynamic entrepreneurial environment is an essential skill at every stage – from seeking co-founders with an analytical skill set to hiring dedicated data scientists as your startup grows.

Measuring impact – expected by investors

Impact measurement is most often found among social entrepreneurs, but it is of value to all entrepreneurs, and investors will expect to see signs of it.

Aspiring entrepreneurs will need to have an understanding of this aspect in order to measure financial importance and social impact.

They will find it useful from the very beginning for activities like evaluating stakeholders, providing their value proposition, retaining employees, and surviving changes as the business scales.

Entrepreneur Lab | | CIEE

eLab offers fast-track learning specifically tailored for future entrepreneurs. As the nonprofit global leader in intercultural exchange, we invite you to join us at our cutting-edge campuses and work together with you to generate and develop your ideas. We’ll help you to cultivate core business skills including finance, funding, planning, design prototypes, ethics, data analysis, impact measurement, and more. We’ll ensure you understand the startup structure, connect you to mentors and VCs and help you to develop your pitch for future investors. We offer this at an affordable and competitive price, leaving you with more funds to invest in your business.

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