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The Five Ws of Business

The Five Ws of BusinessDoctors make sick people better. Engineers make things work. Internet marketers create online presence. Sooner or later, every one of you will develop an expertise at something. Once you do, more and more of you will take the entrepreneurial path - starting and running your own business - than ever before.

Therein lies the rub. I don't care how many years you've been doing what you do and how great you are at doing it, once you leave the academic or corporate womb and strike out on your own, you're literally on your own. And that means you're going to need some help. Well, here you go.

Frankly, running a business isn't rocket science, but it's not a no-brainer, either. Every single business has to have a bulletproof plan that answers these six questions. No plan, no success. Simple as that. Don't let the diminutive nature of the number six lull you into thinking this is going to be easy. It's not. It's hard.

But it's a helluva lot better than falling flat on your face and having to explain to your spouse that you've got to go out and find a job in this crazy market because you tried to cut some corners and take the easy way out, that's for sure.

The Five Ws (and One H) of Business

  • What are you going to make or do?
    Your vision: product or service, technology, innovation.
  • Who needs it? Your marketing and sales plan: target market, target market penetration/share, target customers.
  • Why will customers buy from you? Your value proposition: what you uniquely do better than everyone else.
  • How are you going to make it?
    Your development and operating plan: make vs buy / outsource decisions, manpower loading, capital and expense budget.
  • When will you launch, ramp, and get paid? Your development and manufacturing timeline, launch and ramp plan, revenue plan.
  • Where are you going to get the capital? Your capitalization plan: how much funding will you need, when will you need it, who are you going to get it from?
Last word. When I said this was going to be hard, I meant it. Not to scare you, but to make sure you get that, if you think any of this is simple or you can get by with a quick and dirty plan, that's not going to cut it. Not these days. Not in this market. Not a chance.

So, when the words say: what you uniquely do better than everyone else, if you can't come up with something that passes the laugh test with your target customers, or you fail to deliver on that promise, then your career as an entrepreneur's going to be very, very short. That's for sure.

Of course, if you need some help, that's what I'm here for. Come on, you didn't think I'd leave you hanging, did you?

More resources for startup entrepreneurs:

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Image: dpstyles via Flickr
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