David Brenner, president and executive director of the Innovation Park at Notre Dame, developed something he calls “The Five Breath Test” for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Can you sum up your business idea in five statements, each of which takes one breath? Here are the five questions you need to answer with those breaths:
What is your idea?
State it as clearly as possible, without jargon but with passion.
Who needs it?
Explain what problem it solves, which should point directly to a target market.
Why they should want it from you?
Determine what makes you different from your competition. What gives you a competitive advantage that you can sustain over time?
Spell out the factors that make this a good idea right now. Has something changed or developed in the market that makes it timely?
How you will make money?
That’s the bottom line, for you and any investors you might attract. Be realistic about the potential returns.
If you can answer those questions, you can move on to the next step of an in-depth marketing plan, as spelled out in our worksheet “Developing a Marketing Plan” and our online e-course “Crafting a Business Plan.”