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How to Come Up with an Innovative Business Idea

Aspiring female entrepreneur researching innovative business ideas on a laptop

  • 21 Jul 2020

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity beyond currently controlled resources. By definition, entrepreneurs seek to fill a need in a new way.

For aspiring entrepreneurs, however, generating strong, novel business ideas can be challenging.

If you’re interested in being an entrepreneur , brainstorming ways you can satisfy needs and solve problems is a good place to start.

Remember the golden rule of brainstorming: There are no bad ideas. As your thoughts flow, jot them down so you can later prune the list to focus on your strongest concepts.

Here are some thought-starters for coming up with innovative business ideas and examples of how entrepreneurs have used them to build successful companies.

Access your free e-book today.

How to Come Up with a Business Idea

Is there an easier way.

One place to start brainstorming potential business ideas is by asking yourself, “What task can I make easier?”

A common denominator for successful businesses is their ability to fulfill customer needs . In this case, the need is to create a product or service that makes people’s lives easier.

Related: How to Identify an Underserved Need in the Market

The most innovative businesses have flourished from simple ideas. For example, HelloFresh has taught people how to cook and provided tools to prepare meals more efficiently. It started with a need to make meal planning and grocery shopping easier. By preparing meal kits that directly fulfill busy people’s needs, this idea has seen major growth.

Check out our video on how to come up with innovative business ideas below below, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more explainer content!

This method of creating a product to fill a need can be viewed through the lens of Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen’s jobs to be done theory , which he presents in the online course Disruptive Strategy .

“A ‘job to be done’ is a problem or opportunity that somebody is trying to solve,” Christensen says. “We call it a ‘job’ because it needs to be done, and we hire people or products to get jobs done.”

Look for these kinds of opportunities in your own life. Every “job” presents an opportunity to create an easier way to get it done.

By centering your business plan on a particular need, you can increase your chances of building a profitable business.

Related: Jobs to Be Done: 4 Real-World Examples

Can I Make This More Accessible?

There are many useful products and services that aren’t readily available to the entire market, creating an opportunity to produce a similar, more accessible product offering.

The founding of Airbnb by Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia is an example that HBS Professor William Sahlman uses in the online course Entrepreneurship Essentials .

“Chesky and Gebbia observed how hard it was to find housing during big local events,” Sahlman explains. “They decided to list online three air beds in their apartment for people coming to San Francisco for a design conference.”

From there, they added a third member to their founding team, Nathan Blecharczyk, who built the platform for connecting people with spare rooms to travelers needing a place to stay. They called it AirBed and Breakfast, which later became Airbnb .

Chesky and Gebbia noticed hotel rooms weren’t easy to book during large events, recognized a business opportunity, and devised a solution to fulfill a need for accessible, short-term lodging.

There are countless industries and companies whose offerings are inaccessible to certain market segments or during specific periods. Consider how you might fill those needs.

Related: 10 Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

What Can I Improve About This?

For every successful product offering, there's a multitude of ways to make it better. Think of companies you admire and imagine how you could improve their products. As you do so, consider the following four factors.

Graphic showing four factors to consider to improve a product: delivery process, location, cost, and customer experience

1. Delivery Process

Your business idea doesn’t have to be entirely new—it just has to fill a need. If you can identify a more convenient way of delivering an existing service, it could be an opportunity for your business.

Uber is used as an example in Entrepreneurship Essentials . Taxis have existed for decades, but Uber delivered its services in a new, innovative way by linking drivers in their own cars to customers via an app.

This example also shows there are no limits to what type of business you can create. Your business’ ability to fulfill a need will matter more than whether it’s a brick-and-mortar or online business.

Related: 3 Effective Methods for Assessing Customer Needs

2. Location

One of the simplest improvements to a product or service is bringing it to a new location.

Returning to the Uber example in Entrepreneurship Essentials , ride-sharing company Didi was founded in China—a location Uber hadn’t yet reached. Didi used a similar platform and model as Uber but filled a location gap Uber had left open.

What products, services, or concepts have you experienced in other places that you’d like to bring to your community?

Entrepreneurship Essentials | Succeed in the startup world | Learn More

One improvement that can make a significant impact is cost. Determining how to make a high-quality equivalent to a leading product and offer it for a fraction of the price has great potential.

Home security brand Wyze was founded using this logic. After four ex-Amazon employees discovered they could produce high-quality security cameras and sell them for one-tenth the cost of leading competitors, they sold one million security cameras in their first year as a company.

It takes testing to ensure product quality isn’t sacrificed for a lower price, but finding a way to reduce the cost of an in-demand item could jumpstart your entrepreneurial journey.

4. Customer Experience

Taking an existing offering and improving the customer experience for all or a segment of the market can be a valuable way to fill a need.

One example of an organization that’s done this well is Wanderful , a platform that, similar to Airbnb, connects travelers to locals who can offer lodging and travel advice—with the provision that all users are women.

Beth Santos, founder and CEO of Wanderful, noticed that female solo travelers made up 11 percent of the travel industry , which failed to take into consideration the safety, gender norm, and cultural concerns of women traveling alone.

She improved this experience by creating a network of women that can be tapped into for lodging, travel advice, or just a friendly face in a new location. Wanderful has since expanded its mission to give female and non-binary travelers voices in the travel industry through conferences, communities, and recognition programs.

If there’s an opportunity to improve the experience of a specific group of people, act on it and see where the opportunity leads.

Related: 6 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Business

Is It Time to Pivot?

When starting a business, you may need to pivot from your original idea as new needs arise in the market.

For instance, Jebbit , a tech startup that originally offered a platform to pay students for the advertisements they watched, saw a rising need for privacy and consent in the consumer data space. It pivoted to create a platform for secure, declared customer data.

Another instance in which it makes sense to pivot is during technological evolution.

In Disruptive Strategy , Christensen explains that technological advancements can be either sustaining or disruptive innovations , depending on how they impact your company.

Take Netflix : The service was created to allow people to watch movies without going to the video store and accomplished this by mailing DVDs to customers’ homes with prepaid return envelopes.

When streaming came on the scene in 2007, Netflix implemented the new technology into its business model and has continued to adapt as it’s evolved. Because Netflix was able to adopt new technology to continue serving its customers, streaming was a sustaining innovation.

In the case of video store Blockbuster , streaming was a disruptive innovation that it tried but couldn’t affordably adopt. It ultimately led the business to shut down.

When technological advancements arise, think of how your current business model could shift to use innovation as a sustaining force.

More Examples of Innovative Business Ideas

As you think of ideas for businesses, take inspiration from the world around you. Analyze the foundational needs other businesses have fulfilled for society and how they’ve adapted to what customers want.

Remember: As a future business owner, it’s critical to understand your company’s core mission. Focusing on that can help align your startup ideas and provide a greater chance for success.

To gain even more insight and inspiration, consider the following examples, which show how diverse your business model and mission can be.

Notarize , the first online platform for legally signing and notarizing documents is just one example of an online startup that discovered an overlooked need. For many, it’s a hassle to find a notary public to sign a document in person. This prompted Pat Kinsel, founder and CEO of Notarize, to make this difficult, but necessary, task more convenient.

"It really struck me that notarized documents are often some of the most important things people sign, and yet, we have this system that’s 100 years old," Kinsel said in an interview with Inc .

Kinsel designed the Notarize app to connect people to licensed notary publics via video chat so they can see their documents signed in real time.

This need for notarized documents seemed to be a common, but overlooked, need for many professionals. By thinking outside the box, Notarize seized a business opportunity and brought it to its fullest potential.

The development of Starbucks under former chairman and CEO Howard Schultz is another example that highlights how to efficiently choose locations for your brick-and-mortar.

“Schultz admired the sidewalk coffee shops he’d visited in Italy and decided he would introduce the same basic idea in the United States,” Sahlman says in Entrepreneurship Essentials. “That venture became Starbucks.”

Now, it’s rare to walk a few blocks without seeing a Starbucks on a corner. Strategic locations within high traffic routes created a customer base that’s made Starbucks an essential part of their lives.

Perhaps one of the most well-known companies in the world, Amazon is a prime example of fulfilling people’s need for convenience.

This e-commerce business made it the norm to buy items online—including books, music, movies, housewares, and electronics—and have them quickly and conveniently delivered.

Which HBS Online Entrepreneurship and Innovation Course is Right for You? | Download Your Free Flowchart

Think Like an Entrepreneur

Coming up with an innovative business idea isn’t difficult if you’re observant. By asking yourself key brainstorming questions, you can generate a list of business ideas that fill market needs, improve existing products, and make daily life easier and more enjoyable.

Do you want to turn an idea into a viable venture? Explore our four-week Entrepreneurship Essentials course, six-week Disruptive Strategy course, and other online entrepreneurship and innovation courses to discover how you can harness the power of innovation. Download our free course flowchart to determine which best aligns with your goals.

This post was updated on September 19, 2022. It was originally published on July 21, 2020.

generating business ideas lesson plan

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Improving Student Idea Generation

Improving Student Idea Generation

October 20, 2019 doan winkel comments 0 comment.

This lesson plan will help you increase the quality and creativity of the ideas your students work on.

As we’ve talked about before , we know that most successful entrepreneurs don’t focus on products, they focus on problems. So idea generation should really start with identifying the problems we can solve.

Successful business ideas solve problems by addressing the emotional needs of their customers.

Whether by solving problems, or offering pleasurable experiences, all successful business ideas resolve an emotional desire of customers.

Knowing that, one way to come up with business ideas would be to brainstorm lots of different options, and then hope that one of them will resolve an emotional need of your customers. Of course that means your students spend a lot of time coming up with ideas – most of which will have no substantial emotional impact on their customers. Instead, they will go the other way around.

Your students start by understanding the emotional needs of potential customers, and then use their needs to come up with ideas on ways to resolve them.

For this post we will be using the Your Ideal Customers worksheet from the Lesson Plan below.

Click to download the worksheet.

  • Identify the customers they are ideally suited to serve.
  • Hypothesize the emotional needs of those customers.

By the time they’re done with this exercise, they will have a set of potential customers they can serve, and some ideas about problems they can solve for them.

Groups of people you belong to filled in

Your students don’t have to know these segments intimately, they just have to want to serve them.

Groups you are most excited to work for filled in

  • The situations they hypothesize are the most emotionally intense for their potential customers . Circle the two most intense situations.
  • The problems or emotions they are most excited to resolve for their customers. Put stars next to two of those.

generating business ideas lesson plan

Your students just identified the customers they are most passionate about helping, and the problems/emotions they’re most excited to help them resolve. In doing so, your students identified several potentials paths that could lead them toward creating a profitable business. By focusing on the people and them as inspiration for business ideas, your students have an infinite source of potentially successful businesses to choose from now, or in the future.

Get the “Your Ideal Customers” Lesson Plan

We’ve created a detailed “Your Ideal Customers” lesson plan. This exercise walks you, and your students, through the process, step-by-step.

generating business ideas lesson plan

It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers, so you’re welcome to share it.

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The Complete Guide to Generating Business Ideas

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Every great business started with an idea. But how do founders come up with all their great ideas? Chances are, they don’t just luck out. It’s more likely they keep their minds open to opportunities, notice what’s going on around them, and keep track of all the ideas that float through their minds.

In this guide, we’re going to look at how you can become an idea-generating machine—how to keep your mind open and flexible, where to find good business ideas, and what to do when you think you might have found the perfect one.

Why Being Able to Generate Ideas is So Important

Here’s the thing: We let our inner critic get in the way a lot of the time. We come up with an idea for a business and immediately dismiss it as impossible, too difficult, or just plain stupid. 

It’s true that not all your ideas are going to be instant blockbusters. Most of them will never amount to anything. And that’s fine . 

The point is to just get into the habit of generating ideas without stopping to censor yourself. The more you do this, the easier it will be to find new ideas, spark connections, and notice opportunities.

Ideas are a little like rabbits—you get a few of them together, and they start to multiply quickly. And the more you have, the more likely it is that at least one of them will be a hit. 

Someone has to come up with the Next Great Idea. Why not you?

Quick Tips to Improve Your Idea Generation Today

Believe it or not, coming up with ideas isn’t usually the hard part. The ability to figure out which ideas are really good and follow through on them is the real challenge.

Idea management software can make the idea generation process much easier and, let’s face it, more fun. It can also give you an edge when it comes to follow-through by enabling you to share your ideas, get feedback, and create professional presentations.

We like Mind Meister , mind-mapping software that helps you visualize ideas and make connections. Its mobile app allows you to capture ideas when you’re out and about. You can also take notes, turn your ideas into projects, and share everything with others for brainstorming and feedback. 

generating business ideas lesson plan

And when you have an idea you think you can run with? Use MindMeister’s built-in presentation mode to turn your mind maps into professional, dynamic slideshows.

Ready to start coming up with ideas? Here are some quick tips to help get your idea juices flowing.

Tip #1 – It’s okay to think small 

Your ideas don’t have to be “big.” You don’t have to invent the next Facebook or Amazon to be successful. In fact, putting pressure on yourself to come up with a billion-dollar (or even million-dollar) idea can be self-defeating. The bigger the concept, the more opportunities you have to overthink or second guess yourself. 

“Little” ideas can be worth just as much as big ones, sometimes more. Remember, starting small doesn’t mean staying small. Amazon started as an online bookstore, and Facebook was initially restricted to students at Harvard. Both of them grew over time, eventually becoming the behemoths they are today. 

Tip #2 – Hang out with the right crowd

Have you ever shared an idea with a friend who promptly told you all the reasons it could never work? Yeah—avoid people like that. Even if they mean well and are only trying to spare you from mistakes and disappointment, a constant stream of negativity from people close to us is a guaranteed creativity-killer.

That doesn’t mean surrounding yourself with people who tell you that all your ideas are brilliant and that you’ll be a success no matter what you do. They may be easier on the ego, but ultimately, they aren’t any more helpful than the nay-sayers.

Hanging out with the right crowd means finding motivated people who will challenge you, encourage you, give you honest feedback, share their experiences, bounce ideas around, and act as mentors. 

Don’t know any movers and shakers in real life? Find your tribe online, look for local meet-up groups, or invest in a mastermind. 

Tip #3 – Get out of the house

It’s really hard to generate ideas in a vacuum. If you want to become an idea-generating machine, put yourself in positions where you’re exposed to new things. You can do this by learning new skills, going to new places, and meeting new people. 

Getting out of your comfort zone gives you a chance to look for opportunities and connections and sets you up for serendipity. Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet your future business partner at the same cooking class that sparks an idea for a portable solar oven.

Tip #4 – Practice idea generation every day

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx and, at one point, the youngest self-made female billionaire in the US, keeps a journal of ideas that’s 99 pages, single-spaced, and getting longer every day. It’s not that she’s going to act on every single one of them, but out of those hundreds of ideas, she’ll probably find a few that turn into successful businesses.

Whether you keep a physical journal or use a tool like Mind Meister, get used to thinking about and writing out ideas every day.

Don’t just wait around for a light bulb to appear over your head. Spend a few minutes every morning writing down a minimum of five business ideas, and try for 10. Just jot down whatever comes to mind, whether that’s custom-made chocolate bars, flying taxis, or edible socks. 

Don’t worry about being practical or even realistic, and try not to judge yourself. Keep it fun and lighthearted. The idea is to simply give your mind permission to be creative and get your idea-generating juices flowing. 

Long-Term Strategies for Generating Business Ideas

Once you’ve primed yourself for idea generation by getting out of your comfort zone, meeting new people, and writing as many ideas down as you can, it’s time to start thinking about viability. The following strategies can help you find products and services that people will pay for. 

Strategy #1 – Start with what you love

Just because you love doing something doesn’t mean that you should do it for a living. That said, being passionate about a hobby, cause, or product can give you a definite edge.

For one thing, if you love it, there’s a good chance that other people are passionate about it as well. For another, you’re probably already pretty knowledgeable about it and understand the community around it—and that is a huge advantage over people who are just looking for the next get-rich-quick scheme. 

Let’s say, for example, that you’re passionate about good wine. There is a multitude of ways you could put that passion to work. You could open a wine shop, give tours of local wineries, conduct wine-tasting classes, review wines in a blog, create an app that lets people keep track of their wine collections, or create short YouTube documentaries about the histories of different wines. However you approach it, your enthusiasm for the subject and the connection you feel to your fellow wine-lovers will help you do it well.

How can you translate your passion into a business? 

Strategy #2 – Solve a problem

There is no shortage of problems in the world. Make a list.

What are people talking about? What are people complaining about? What local and global trends are costing people time, money, or energy? What are the bottlenecks that your industry has to deal with? What are the annoyances and frustrations, big or small, in your own life? 

Chances are, if they bug you, they annoy other people, too. 

Don’t dismiss problems like cancer or global warming as being “too big.” You may not have a cure for leukemia, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t come up with a product that makes life easier for sick people or a service that helps their families.

So don’t let the petty annoyances of life get you down. Instead, start thinking about ways you could fix them.

Strategy #3 – Make life easier

For decades, people used telephones that were plugged into walls. Their mobility was limited, but the phone worked well, so no one complained. Then someone invented the cordless phone that allowed users to walk all over their house while on a call. Then came hands-free phones, and car phones, and finally mobile phones. 

Sometimes, people don’t even realize they have a problem. They’ve done things a certain way for a long time, and everything works fine. But just because they’re not complaining doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. 

The original stuck-to-the-wall phone worked fine, but people saw opportunities to improve on it, and now we can’t live without our cell phones. If you can find a way to improve on an existing concept to make life easier for the people who use it, you have the makings of a great business idea.

Strategy #4 – Save money

Seriously, who doesn’t like saving money? But how do you get people to pay money to save money?

Here’s an example: traditional banks often charge fees for having a low balance, using an ATM, or overdrawing checking accounts. People saw a market, and now dozens of online banks promise a fee-free banking experience. 

Look at the areas in your life where you’re spending money and not getting value in return, and brainstorm ways to change them. 

Strategy #5 – Save time

Saving time is a close second to saving money—or possibly it’s the other way around, depending on your audience. The humble microwave has been a staple in kitchens for 40 years because it saves home cooks so much time. Likewise, people pay to have their houses cleaned or their cars detailed because they don’t want to spend their precious time doing those tasks themselves.

What are the time-wasters in your life or your industry? Find a way to streamline them, and it’s a good bet that someone will pay for the service.

Strategy #6 – Help people improve

A cynic might say this means appealing to people’s vanity, greed, or insecurity, but a more positive—and ultimately more helpful—way of looking at it is: how can you help people become better people ?

Can you help them be healthier? Smarter? More confident? How about helping them get ahead in their careers or find a soulmate? Maybe you can help them throw great dinner parties, have a better relationship with their children, or be better drivers. 

There is an endless supply of people who want to be better versions of themselves. Your job is to figure out how you can help them do that.

Strategy #7 – Look for the money

Ideas for saving money, saving time, and self-improvement are smart steps in the right direction, but they’re not a guarantee of a viable business. Once you’ve got a list of ideas, check each one against this question: are there enough people willing to pay enough money to make this worthwhile?

Sometimes the answer is an obvious no, in which case, fine. Just move on to the next one. But if an idea really calls to you, don’t dismiss it just because you “know” that no one would be willing to pay. Ask around. Do some market research. Send out surveys, interview your target market, and find out how other similar products are faring in the market.

Next Steps 

If you’ve got a solid idea and are pretty sure you could make a profit with it, it might be time to take the leap and create a minimum viable product (MVP). The goal here is to create a product or service as quickly and inexpensively as possible and test it out in the real world. 

Don’t sweat it if you don’t nail it perfectly the first time. Chances are, you’ll have to iterate and tweak before you’re ready to launch—or you might even realize that this idea isn’t for you and go back to square one. 

But that is fine! Because you are an idea-generating machine and will always have more.

Want to get a little creative boost? Maybe the following guides will spark some ideas: 

  • How to Make Money from a Website
  • How to Start an Affiliate Program
  • How to Start a Busines for Less than $100

Make your website better. Instantly.

Keep reading about operations.

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Mu-4.0 - unit plan & assessments, assessments, mu-4.1 - understanding entrepreneurship.

Students will be able to

  • Define entrepreneurship
  • Identify and describe key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs
  • Explain the importance of small businesses in the US economy
  • Differentiate between different types of entrepreneurship
  • Outline the stages of the entrepreneurial process
  • Apply problem/solution techniques for generating innovative business ideas

MU-4.2 - Hurdles of Entrepreneurship

  • Discuss the different roles an entrepreneur commonly fills when launching a business
  • Analyze why startups fail and how to overcome obstacles faced by entrepreneurs
  • Examine ethical considerations in entrepreneurship and make ethical decisions

MU-4.3 - Planning and Pitching a Business

  • Explain the purpose and components of a business plan
  • Create a lean business plan

MU-4.4 - Launching a Business

  • Understand personal finance considerations when starting a business
  • Identify the appropriate business structures for starting a business
  • Explore various funding options for startups
  • Discuss tax considerations for entrepreneurs

Case Studies

Fincap fridays, questions of the day, data crunch + math, analyze: 4 elevator pitches.

In this activity, students will be able to:

  • Analyze the effectiveness of sample business pitches

ANALYZE: Sample Business Plans

  • Analyze one sample business plan on their own.
  • Compare their classmate's analyses on other sample business plans.
  • Understand what elements make a compelling business plan.

CREATE: A Business Idea

  • Brainstorm business ideas using the problem / solution lens

CREATE: A Lean Business Plan

  • Identify the elements of a lean business plan

ECON: I've Got An Idea!

  • Create new product ideas
  • Iterate on the ideas of others
  • Analyze how this process can affect prices and the budgets of consumers


  • Make decisions and prioritize tasks to meet professional, financial, and other goals
  • Discuss what they think a normal day looks like for social media influencers
  • Analyze what goes into becoming a successful social media influencer

[This activity has no answer key]

INTERVIEW: An Entrepreneur

  • Identify entrepreneurs in their community
  • Interview one of these entrepreneurs using a list questions that they have developed

PROJECT: Pitch Your Business Idea

  • Create a lean business plan, including marketing materials
  • Present their business plan to their teacher/classmates

RESEARCH: Great Innovators & Innovations

  • Research innovators and innovations that have impacted society

ROLEPLAY: Ethics in Entrepreneurship

  • Practice making ethical decisions
  • Discuss ethical dilemmas that arise when running a business

CASE STUDY: Who Will Pitch It to Win It?

In this Case Study, students assume the role of a business advisor who helps two Shark Tank contestants improve their businesses to receive an investment offer from the sharks. Students will analyze both businesses to determine their strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations on how to move forward.

Pandemic Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs & executives, beyonce the entrepreneur, fincap friday: entrepreneurship on the rise, so you want to be an influencer, entrepreneurship on the rise, new tax rules for online payment tools, [women's history month]: whitney wolfe herd became the youngest self-made woman billionaire when she took what company public in february 2021, [black history month]: how did madame cj walker become the first american woman to be a self-made millionaire, what is the largest black-owned business based on their 2018 revenue (sales), (aapi heritage month): what company, founded by an asian american, creates computer chips that power games like fortnite and minecraft, [black history month]: match these ceos with the companies they lead., (women's history month): match these ceos with the s&p 500 companies they lead: mary barra, corie barry, rosalind brewer, [women's history month]: what is the first company to go public led by two female co-founders, [women's history month]: in what year were women in the us first enabled to get a business loan without the signature of a male relative, [aapi heritage month]; what two personal finance websites were started by asian americans, [aapi heritage month]: what percentage of u.s. business are asian-owned, what percentage of restaurant businesses fail within the first year, what percent of high school students want to start their own business, what are the three most popular fast food brands in the u.s., [hispanic & latinx heritage month]: of all new businesses, how many are hispanic & latinx-owned, data crunch: tiktok's rapid growth, note: nearpod lesson pro tips.

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Starting Your Own Business Lesson Plan

Starting Your Own Business

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Fifth graders read a book and complete several correlating activities to learn how to start their own business. For this economic and math lesson, 5th graders read the book The Toothpaste Millionaire . Students define the term entrepreneur, risk, cost, incentive, market, prices, and profit. Students then complete 2 small group activities to help them with building a business.

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10 Simple Tips to Write a Successful Business Plan In the new book "Write Your Own Business Plan," business expert Eric Butow takes the anxiety and confusion out of planning and offers an easy-to-follow roadmap to success.

By Entrepreneur Staff • Sep 26, 2023

"The absolute biggest business plan mistake you can make is to not plan at all." So writes Noah Parsons in his helpful blog post 17 Key Business Plan Mistakes to Avoid in 2023 . But how does one pull together all of the necessary components of a cohesive plan? It can feel overwhelming.

Eric Butow, CEO of online marketing ROI improvement firm Butow Communications Group, has teamed up with Entrepreneur Media to update the second edition of our best-selling book Write Your Business Plan to provide you with a simple, step-by-step process for creating a successful business plan. In the following excerpt, he gives ten tips to gather all of the critical information you will need to succeed.

1. Know your competition.

You need to name them and point out what makes you different from (and better than) each of them. But do not disparage your competition.

2. Know your audience.

You may need several versions of your business plan. For example, you may need one for bankers or venture capitalists, one for individual investors, and one for companies that may want to do a joint venture with you rather than fund you.

3. Have proof to back up every claim you make.

If you expect to be the leader in your field in six months, you have to say why you think that is. If you say your product will take the market by storm, you have to support this statement with facts. If you say your management team is fully qualified to make the business a success, be sure staff resumes demonstrate their experience.

generating business ideas lesson plan

Order Write Your Own Business Plan Now and Get 1 Month of Free Access to Business Planning Software Liveplan Premium

  • Easy step-by-step business plan generator
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4. Be conservative in all financial estimates and projections.

If you feel certain you'll capture 50 percent of the market in the first year, you can say why you think so and hint at what those numbers may be. But make your financial projections more conservative. For example, a 10 percent market share is much more credible.

5. Be realistic with time and resources available.

If you're working with a big company before you buy a business, you may think things will happen faster than they will once you have to buy the supplies, write the checks, and answer the phones yourself. Being overly optimistic with time and resources is a common error entrepreneurs make. Being realistic is important because it lends credibility to your presentation. Always assume things will take 20 percent longer than you anticipated. Therefore, twenty weeks is now twenty-four weeks.

6. Be logical.

Think like a banker and write what they would want to see.

7. Have a strong management team.

Make sure it has good credentials and expertise. Your team members don't have to have worked in the field. However, you need to draw parallels between what they've done and the skills needed to make your venture succeed. Don't have all the skills you need? Consider adding an advisory board of people skilled in your field and include their resumes.

Write Your Own Business Plan is available now at Entrepreneur Bookstore | Barnes & Noble | Amazon

8. Document why your idea will work.

Have others done something similar that was successful? Have you made a prototype? Include all the variables that can have an impact on the result or outcome of your idea. Show why some of the variables don't apply to your situation or explain how you intend to overcome them or make them better.

9. Describe your facilities and location for performing the work.

That includes equipment you use to create your products and/or services. If you'll need to expand, discuss when, where, and why.

10. Discuss payout options for the investors.

Some investors want a hands-on role. Some want to put associates on your board of directors. Some don't want to be involved in day-to-day activities at all. All investors want to know when they can get their money back and at what rate of return. Most want out within three to five years. Provide a brief description of options for investors, or at least mention that you're ready to discuss options with any serious prospect.

To dig deeper, buy Write Your Own Business Plan and get 1 month of free access to business planning software Liveplan Premium.

Entrepreneur Staff

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Many entrepreneurs are using podcast guesting as their go-to marketing strategy. If it hasn't quite worked for you yet, check if you are making any of these four mistakes.

10 Simple Tips to Write a Successful Business Plan

In the new book "Write Your Own Business Plan," business expert Eric Butow takes the anxiety and confusion out of planning and offers an easy-to-follow roadmap to success.

These Are the Most (And Least) Happy States in the U.S. 2023, According to a New Report

Utah was found to be the happiest state in the country, while West Virginia was the least.

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The US is planning its first fusion plant, and it could generate pollution-free power by 2035

  • Nuclear fusion is a breakthrough technology that could help the US achieve pollution-free power.
  • Fusion plants can generate more energy than fission plants and produce less radioactive waste.
  • Fusion isn't a perfect solution. Some critics argue it's not cost-effective, among other issues.

Insider Today

VIENNA (AP) — The Biden administration hopes to create a commercial nuclear fusion facility within 10 years as part of the nation's transition to clean energy, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Monday.

Calling nuclear fusion a pioneering technology, Granholm said President Joe Biden wants to harness fusion as a carbon-free energy source that can power homes and businesses.

"It's not out of the realm of possibility" that the US could achieve Biden's "decadal vision of commercial fusion ," Granholm said in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press in Vienna.

How nuclear fusion works

Fusion works by pressing hydrogen atoms into each other with such force that they combine into helium, releasing enormous amounts of energy and heat. Unlike other nuclear reactions, it doesn't create radioactive waste.

Proponents of nuclear fusion hope it could one day displace fossil fuels and other traditional energy sources. But producing carbon-free energy that powers homes and businesses from fusion is still decades away.

A successful nuclear fusion was first achieved by researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California last December in a major breakthrough after decades of work. Then, again, in August they reproduced the results , but with an even higher energy surplus than before.

Granholm also praised the role of the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog in verifying that states live up to their international commitments and do not use their nuclear programs for illicit purposes, including to build nuclear weapons .

"The IAEA is instrumental in making sure that nuclear is harnessed for good and that it does not fall into the hands of bad actors," she said.

Fusion power still has a few obstacles

The watchdog organization has agreements with more than 170 states to inspect their nuclear programs. The aim is to verify their nuclear activities and nuclear material and to confirm that it is used for peaceful purposes, including to generate energy.

Nuclear energy is an essential component of the Biden administration's goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by 2050.

Asked about the difficulty of finding storage sites for radioactive waste , Granholm said that the US has initiated a process to identify communities across the country who may be willing to host an interim storage location. Currently, most of the spent fuel is stored at nuclear reactors across the country.

"We have identified 12 organizations that are going to be in discussion with communities across the country about whether they are interested (in hosting an interim site)," she said.

The US currently does not recycle spent nuclear fuel but other countries, including France, already have experience with it.

Spent nuclear fuel can be recycled in such a way that new fuel is created. But critics of the process say it is not cost-effective and could lead to the proliferation of atomic weapons.

There are two proliferation concerns associated with recycling, according to the Washington-based Arms Control Association: The recycling process increases the risk that plutonium could be stolen by terrorists, and second, those countries with separated plutonium could produce nuclear weapons themselves.

"It has to be done very carefully with all these non-proliferation safeguards in place," Granholm said.

The US' first fusion powerplant

Professor Dennis Whyte, director of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the US has taken a smart approach on fusion by advancing research and designs by a range of companies working toward a pilot-scale demonstration within a decade.

"It doesn't guarantee a particular company will get there, but we have multiple shots on goal," he said, referring to the Energy Department's milestone-based fusion development program. "It's the right way to do it, to support what we all want to see: commercial fusion to power our society" without greenhouse gas emissions.

On other topics, Granholm said that depending on whether the US government shuts down or not, the Biden administration could announce in October details on an $8 billion hydrogen hub program that will be funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law.

A hub is meant to be a network of companies that produce clean hydrogen and of the industries that use it — heavy transportation, for example — and infrastructure such as pipelines and refueling stations. States and companies have teamed up to create hub proposals.

Environmental groups say hydrogen presents its own pollution and climate risks. When released into the atmosphere, it boosts volumes of methane and other greenhouse gases.

"Our goal is to get the cost of clean hydrogen down to 1 dollar per kilogram within one decade," Granholm insisted.

UK's delay on crucial climate targets

As fossil fuel emissions continue warming Earth's atmosphere and extreme weather phenomena occur globally, Granholm was asked her opinion on the announcement by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that the UK will delay crucial climate targets.

Sunak said last week that he will push back the deadline for selling new gasoline and diesel cars and the phasing out of gas boilers as part of one of his biggest policy changes since taking office.

"When you see the heatwaves that the UK experienced this summer, I think it becomes obvious that we need to put on the accelerator," she said, while adding that the UK has been a "great partner" in pushing modern technologies.

"We want to see everybody moving forward as quickly as possible (on the clean energy transition), including ourselves," she said.

generating business ideas lesson plan

Watch: China made an artificial star that's 6 times as hot as the sun, and it could be the future of energy

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    Tip #3 - Get out of the house. It's really hard to generate ideas in a vacuum. If you want to become an idea-generating machine, put yourself in positions where you're exposed to new things. You can do this by learning new skills, going to new places, and meeting new people.

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    5. Build on existing products or services. If you're struggling to come up with new ideas for a business, it often helps to build on products or services that already exist. You won't have the pressure of coming up with something completely new, and you can focus on improving upon what's already out there.

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    Starting Your Own Business. Fifth graders read a book and complete several correlating activities to learn how to start their own business. In this economic and math lesson, 5th graders read the book The Toothpaste Millionaire. Students define the term entrepreneur, risk, cost, incentive, market, prices, and profit.

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