The Defining Dozen: #1 – What’s your idea?

In Step 3 of "10 Steps to Open for Business," answering the “Defining Dozen” questions is vital to writing a good business plan. The Sloan brothers describe them in detail in StartupNation: Open for Business, their book. Here is the first of those questions, in a special book excerpt:

What’s your idea? In simple, straightforward terms, write down what your business idea is. If you can’t explain the essence of your idea quickly and simply, keep working on it until you can. Complicated, jargon-filled descriptions are real turnoffs. Someone listening should be able to say immediately, “Oh. I get it.” If we had tried to say, “Geneworks is an avian transgenics company that will revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry by modifying chickens’ DNA using viral vectors designed to genetically replace ovalbumin (pronounced ‘ohv-al-byumin’) in the egg whites of their eggs with proprietary proteins and antibodies,” we would never have gotten the attention of investors. But tell them, “It’s basically a manufacturing business that produces key ingredients for pharmaceutical companies at a lower-than-average cost” and now you’re talking business talk. Your description must highlight the qualities that distinguish your idea. In the case of Geneworks, it was the ability to produce the ingredients at a lower cost.

Excerpted from StartupNation: Open for Business Copyright© 2005 by Jeff Sloan and Rich Sloan. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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