So you’re a student who wants to start your own business! You may be deep into classes, assignments and uni life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for your future business.
Here at Enterprise by Design, our multidisciplinary teams build ideas, do brainstorming exercises, conduct industry analysis and develop business plans over a 10 week period. These weeks of idea creation, team collaboration and industry research allow our teams to build a foundation of knowledge about their product, potential clients and future competitors, before they even begin their business!
Through our years of competition, and advice from our business expert Dr Siwan Mitchelmore from the Bangor Business School, we’re bringing you our top tips for planning your own business as a student!
Conduct an industry analysis before you begin
Whether you have a full fledged business idea, or just an inkling, it is so important to start your journey through research. Researching your industry will allow you to find out where there are gaps in the market, and where you could create something that is new and useful to customers.
You could have an amazing idea, but if someone has already created something similar, or there is little need for your product or service on the market, you could be going through an uphill battle trying to get your business off the ground.
An industry analysis is a market analysis that looks at how your business compares to others in your industry. By taking the time to really understand your industry you can identify opportunities and potential pitfalls for your new business. Having a thorough knowledge of your industry allows you to anticipate future trends and directions in your field that can help you react accordingly.
Here at Enterprise by Design, we encourage our students to conduct a SWOT analysis, which is a list of strengths, weaknesses and opportunities and threats within their industry. This equips our students to pitch their ideas within that industry with confidence, and helps them know their limitations and freedoms within their industry.
At the planning stages of your business, building a foundation of knowledge is key in gaining traction with your ideas, and helps you easily be able to communicate your business to others going forward.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes
One of the ways we encourage our teams to get to know their potential customers is by creating character profiles and journey maps. This exercise helps our teams put themselves in the shoes of their potential customers and identify wants and needs that could be essential to their customers. Customer profiles are semi-fictional characters who would potentially buy your product, based on your initial research into your industry. This helps our team identify the kinds of customers they would be trying to attract, their age range, interests and location.
A customer journey map helps you brainstorm the ways that potential customers might come across your product, how it might be useful in their life, and how often they would be a repeat customer. You can map out how your customer might find your product, how the product could make them feel when they discover it and how they could react if they use it or buy it.
By researching your ideal customers and creating character profiles, you can develop the best ways to meet your potential customers’ needs and make any adjustments to your products that they could be unhappy with. This can help you in developing key words surrounding your product that would resonate with your audience. By building an ideal customer, you are able to make decisions around marketing, packaging, branding and more!
One of the most important parts of the Enterprise by Design experience, is that our teams are made up of multidisciplinary students across Business, Arts, Science and Engineering. From product development and consumer psychology to marketing and branding, our teams are able to create well rounded business ideas with their different areas of expertise.
Whether you are interested in adding people into your business as partners, employees, or just mentors who give you feedback, seeking out people from other disciplines gives you different perspectives and knowledge. Many major businesses in tech, tourism and the medical field seek out innovators who have varied backgrounds, disciplines and working styles to work together to bring unique, innovative ideas to their products. Emulating multidisciplinary collaboration from the start is a great way to set up your future business for success!
Creativity might not sound like an important aspect of building a business, but it is one of the most important parts! Creating, brainstorming and thinking outside the box can bring about unique and innovative ideas. While the word creativity sounds like it is only connected to the arts, in a business context creativity is simply “the use of the imagination to create.” Creativity is often seen as the first step in innovation, which is “an improvement of something that has come before.” If creativity is doing something in a new way, innovation must be the application of that method in a way that improves on the original method.
In order for innovation to eventually happen, creativity must be involved. We encourage our teams to do creative brainstorming activities such as Crazy Eights and Paper Folding Challenges in the hopes that through that creativity, the innovative juices start to flow. Statistically, the more ideas you have, the more you are likely to come up with multiple ideas that can be more commercially viable. The more you create, the more winning ideas you could come up with for your new business.
Prioritizing brainstorming sessions and collaboration with others aren’t just fun exercises, they’re the ways that many innovators come across their best ideas. While it is important to get stuck into the logistical side of starting your business, keep your creative juices flowing, because you never know what you might come up with!
Typically, audiences have very short attention spans. So when you are pitching your ideas to potential investors, partners, or just people interested in your future business, it’s important that you present your ideas in a way that shows the benefits of your product, your knowledge in the industry, and how your idea is unique and will stand out in the market.
One way we prepare our teams to pitch their ideas is through Pecha Kucha presentations. Pecha Kucha is a style of presentation, which gives presenters only 10 slides to present their ideas, and only 20 seconds per slide. This quickfire, straightforward method of presenting is a great way to easily define your ideas in an accessible, understandable and memorable way to your audience.
When pitching your business idea, at the forefront of your pitch should be your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. A USP is a clear statement you put together about how your business is unique and how it is superior to your competitors’. In one or two sentences, you should clearly be able to state your USP to your audience, in a way that grabs their attention, and explains the core of your new business.
Throughout Enterprise by Design, our teams develop their USP as they collaborate, until the final night where they present their ideas in Pecha Kucha style presentations. After weeks of brainstorming, researching and collaborating, our teams are tasked with clearly stating exactly what their business ideas are and why they are unique.
If you’ve laid the groundwork using the tips above, you should be able to pitch your business ideas clearly to any audience in no time!