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The Harvard Business Review Entrepreneur's Handbook

The Harvard Business Review Entrepreneur's Handbook

by Harvard Business Review

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Is starting a business right for you?

Without these elements—a full understanding of a problem, new connections, and a vision or direction for a solution—there is no entrepreneurial venture. Whether the problem you’ve identified is global or local, broad or niche, ...

A business opportunity is primarily a product or service that creates significant value for customers and offers significant profit potential to the entrepreneur.

A business opportunity:

  • Solves a real problem for customers
  • Offers significant risk-adjuste...

A business model describes how an enterprise proposes to make money. 

A well-conceived and promising business model is only half the equation for success because it doesn’t take into account the market competition.

Dealing with competition is...

The 5 steps of strategy formulation are:

  • Looking outside the enterprise for threats and opportunities
  • Looking inside at resources, capabilities, and practices
  • Considering strategies for addressing threats and op...

At the onset of your new venture, you will need to address the legal form your enterprise will adopt. Should it be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a corporation, or a limited liability company? This decision is driven mainly by your objectives and those of your investor...

A business plan is a document that explains a business opportunity, identifies the market to be served, and provides details about how the entrepreneurial organization plans to pursue it. To be effective, a good plan also describes the unique qualifications that you and your ...

  • The executive summary should explain the opportunity, why it is timely, and how your company plans to pursue it. It should also describe your expected results and provide a thumbnail sketch of the company and the management team.
  • The business plan should sta...

  • Startup-phase financing is initially bootstrapped from personal savings, credit cards, and other personal sources of income, followed by friends and family and, in some cases, by small bank loans.
  • Trade credit from suppliers is another low-cost source of financing....

During the growth stage, your business expands its sales and develops a growing base of customers. As a result, you’ll need more capital—for expanding your operation, hiring and training new employees, etc.

Your company may already be generating some positive cash flows...

  • The most likely source of outside venture funding comes from so-called angel investors. Angels are high-net-worth individuals who provide early-stage capital to startup businesses. Networking is often the best way to connect with angels.
  • Venture capital com...

Growing firms with exceptional revenue potential have another option to achieve a significant cash infusion: they can seek financing through an IPO. This process presents ownership shares to the world of individual investors and institutional investors such as pension fun...

  • Growth forces companies through transitions. Continued growth is usually a function of a sustainable strategy, the ability to expand into other markets, and mechanisms for scaling up the volume of output.
  • Companies have several mechanisms for sustaining growth

Possible approaches to leading a startup faced with rapid growth:

  • Managing content: The most direct approach to getting things done is to do them yourself or to directly supervise those who do. 
  • Managing behaviors: you specify how people shoul...

Entrepreneurial leaders can keep the spirit alive if they:

  • Preserve an innovation-friendly culture
  • Establish a strategic direction
  • Remain personally involved with innovation
  • Continually improve the idea to-commercialization pr...

There are probably as many reasons for harvesting an investment as there are entrepreneurs. Retirement is one reason. An offer “too good to refuse” is yet another.

Common reasons:

  • A need to diversify wealth: Successful entrepreneurs can easily get into a positio...

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