The Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship, through a grant from the NCIIA, sponsored four workshops in the spring 2012. The workshops were open to all students and will be offered again in the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013.
Marketing and Industry Analysis - January 24, 2012
The first workshop in the series was taught by Bob Fly, marketing professor in the WFU Schools of Business. Mr. Fly began his presentation with a brief history on the different marketing eras -- production, sales, and marketing department. He discussed the traditional roles of marketing for large brands and also highlighted issues around marketing for the entrepreneur. Entrepreneurial marketing can help attract financing for the venture and help recruit the best people. In his presentation, Mr. Fly briefly explained the 4 P's and the importance of each -- promotion, product, price, place -- to your service or product.
Developing a Business Model - January 31, 2012
Polly Black, director of the Center for Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship and instructor in entrepreneurship, led the business model workshop in which she introduced the building blocks of the business model. She discussed four areas to consider when developing a business model for your new venture: value proposition, customer segments, the infrastructure, and the finances.
It is important to consider the value that a product or service brings to the market and to think about the key reasons a potential customer will buy your product or service. What is the benefit to the customer?
When thinking about the infrastructure, some factors to consider are the key partners and activities surrounding a new venture. Will you need investors, suppliers, vendors, distributors, retail partners, and/or third party contracted services?
In her presentation, Ms. Black also spoke about the finances. What costs will be incurred to produce and deliver a product or service? Will you need any working capital to obtain facilities and equipment? These are just a few of the questions that need thoughtful consideration when starting a new venture.
Forecasting Financial Needs - February 7, 2012
The third workshop was taught by Dr. Terry Baker, professor of accounting in the WFU Schools of Business. Dr. Baker suggested that the challenge for entrepreneurs is to be able to tell a compelling story to a very tough and skeptical audience. Potential investors have a short attention span and they've probably heard your idea before. There is a lot of competition and usually a shortage of funding.
Baker provided several take-aways including two financial spreadsheets -- the break-even analysis, and a statement of cash flows. How soon will you break-even and start to earn income, and how much cash will it take to get there? He also explained the elements of the balance sheet and income statement.
Dr. Baker offered some sound advice to those thinking of starting a new venture: 1) your venture will evolve -- don't fight it; 2) your forecasts will be wrong -- don't sweat it; 3) you will probably fail -- learn from it; 4) get everyone on your team on the same page; 5) practice telling your story; and 6) don't be afraid to ASK for HELP.
Writing and Pitching a Successful Proposal - February 9, 2012
Bren Varner, professor of strategy and entrepreneurship from the WFU Schools of Business, led the final spring series workshop. Varner provided a recap of the three previous workshops and emphasized the importance of being able to tell a compelling story to potential investors. Varner coached students in writing a successful proposal. Students were able to practice their pitch and receive constructive feedback.