Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Entrepreneur Investment Opportunities: Will Your Startup Idea Fly?

Entrepreneurs are constantly coming up with creative and innovative ways to identify investment opportunities, but how do you know if your startup idea has what it takes to get off the ground and soar? Use this investment opportunities checklist to ensure your startup idea has the strategy and substance for long-term success.

Before attempting to secure investment for your startup idea, you should be prepared with the answers for any questions that an investor may have. Use the following checklist to determine whether or not your startup has the wings to attract investment opportunities.

Technical evaluation questions for startups:
What are your competitive advantages, features and benefits?
Is your product high-quality, as verified through third-party results?
Is your business idea innovative and does it solve a current market need? Will your product/service require an educational component to teach customers about its features and benefits?
Is your product hard to imitate (high barriers to competitive entry)?
Is your product environmentally safe and in line with regulatory controls?
Have you checked the idea for faults or limitations?
How soon can your idea be put into operation?
Have you secured protection on your intellectual property?

Market evaluation questions for startups:
What is your unique selling proposition for quality, service and innovation?
What customer problems are you solving and in what market niche?
What is the demand for your product - seasonal, repeat sales, etc.?
What is your competition doing in this area?
Do you have established distribution channels?
How simple or complex will the idea's execution or implementation be?
Have you considered the possibility of user resistance and difficulties?
What is your key to marketplace differentiation (performance, design, quality, economy)?

Management evaluation questions for startups:
Is your management team experienced and educated in this industry?
Have they adopted an entrepreneurial attitude with a focus on results?
Does management see the big picture and also understand details?
Does the team have experience in all necessary areas (marketing, finance, management, production)?
Are you employing outside expert advisors (legal, accounting, etc.)?
Is there outside accountability (investors, board of directors)?

Economic evaluation questions for startups:
What is your up-front investment intensity?
Are you competing on innovation and quality and not just on price?
Do you have a handle on cash flow and overhead?
Are your financial projections realistic and demonstrating high margins and profitability?
Do you as the owner have a financial commitment and is management paid for performance versus title?
What immediate or short-range gains or results can be anticipated? Are the projected returns adequate and the risk factors acceptable?
What are the long-term investment opportunities for your startup?

With well thought-out, solid answers to these questions, you should be better prepared to present your company to potential investors and increase your chances of receiving the funding you need.

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