Moving Dreams to Reality: How to Turn Ideas into Business Plans

Posted by | September 26, 2012

Good ideas are a dime a dozen. Anyone can come up with a good idea. What separates ideas from businesses—and success—is execution. Consider Thomas Edison. Countless inventors had come up with the idea of the light bulb, but none was able to execute the idea like Edison did. He made a light bulb that was commercially viable. Entrepreneurs like Edison give shape to ideas, transforming them into real products and services.

This can be a daunting task for many NFTE students, who are new to entrepreneurship. Turning a dream into reality requires not only a lot of hard work, but a shift in mindset. Here are the four skills we try to impart that will help them turn their ideas into business plans:

  1. Confidence. Successful entrepreneurs believe in their product or service and are singularly focused on its success. At NFTE, building this confidence is the foundation of our curriculum. Perhaps the most important opportunity we offer students is the chance to meet successful entrepreneurs and business people. In this capacity, the business community becomes a resource beyond the schools to which students can reach out, ask questions, and seek feedback and support. Most importantly, these entrepreneurs serve as examples of success that make the process of developing a business seem more feasible to NFTE students and give them the confidence to pursue their own ideas.
  2. Logistics. NFTE helps students think about the logistics of running a business around their idea: marketing, selling, finding customers, and strategically pricing their product or service. Should it be expensive or cheap, distributed by wholesaler or retailer, built themselves or outsourced? We help them devise each piece of the business framework. From a practical standpoint, basic math is fundamental to making the case in a business plan. Solid numbers allow students to fill out their ideas in reality, considering budgets, pricing, materials costs, transportation costs, and more. Logistics might not be the first, second, or tenth thing an entrepreneur thinks about when an idea strikes, but it’s vital to success.
  3. Communication. In order to present a winning business plan, students need to take a three-pronged approach to communication. They need charisma to engage audiences when presenting their business plan; they need effective images, charts, and bullet points to communicate visually; and they need clear and descriptive writing skills to express their ideas on paper. Most of our students are strong when it comes to the oral presentations, but our program staff works closely with each student to make sure they can eloquently express their ideas in writing.
  4. Focus. Early in the school year, we plant the idea of the business plan so that students are working on their plans throughout the year. Confidence, logistics, and communication will take our young entrepreneurs only so far. Execution of their idea needs to be feasible. By focusing on their idea and developing a business plan from day one, NFTE instructors help students test and analyze their business to determine how to meet their objectives over the long term.

Our program staff brings students back to these four skills again and again throughout the school year. These skills ultimately extend beyond NFTE or the business plan competition, instilling the importance of mentors, education, and hard work, all of which help transform dreams into reality.

 

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