(2013 SBI National Champion Undergraduate Student-led Business Consulting team from CSUF Entrepreneurship)
We are also in the midst of running the 2014 CSUF Business Plan Competition as well. The Finals for this competition are set for Friday, April 11th in the Titan Student Union and, based off of the submissions we have reviewed so far, it looks like this year’s finals will be very exciting! Of course, we are always looking for more sponsors for this competition (for student awards and to pay for the cost of running the event itself) and if you are interested in supporting CSUF student-entrepreneurs please reply to this email and we will help you out (or go to our Donation Page to give via credit card online).
(Students who competed in the 2014 CSUF Fast Pitch Business Competition)
Thanks to your support we have already accomplished a lot in 2014:
We ran the first-ever CSUF Fast Pitch Business Competition. With over 60 participants and approximately 150 people in attendance, this event was a huge success. And, to top it all off, our very own John Chi took home the second place prize!
Gayle and Phil Tauber, the founders of Kashi, were gracious enough to come on campus to give a talk to our students, faculty and staff about their shared entrepreneurial journey.
Also,Dr. Michael Ames, Chairman of the Board for the Center for Entrepreneurship, recently published an eBook titled “Your Entrepreneurial Journey”, which focuses on developing guiding principles for businesses. It is an excellent book that I collaborated on with Dr. Ames and I believe it can help every business develop truly important goals. The eBook is reasonably priced and can be found on Amazon; also, all proceeds of the book go to support the Center for Entrepreneurship and its students.
One of the most important steps in creating a business model for a start-up enterprise or for a new product line is the definition of the target customer segments. Typically the customer segment definition focuses on the needs or wants of particular groups of potential customers. But how does one find these needs or wants? The usual answer is, ask the potential customers through market research or surveys.
A better approach is presented by Anthony Ulwick in his book, What Customers Want (2005). This approach uses an outcome-oriented approach to define the jobs customers want or need to accomplish and to understand how potential customers will evaluate how any product or service offerings will help them get these jobs done. The term job refers to any task the customer has to accomplish, from driving a nail to driving the kids to school.
Asking the potential customers what their needs are often leads the innovators in the enterprise on the wrong track to produce products or services in an attempt to satisfy the perceived need. Some of the reasons for this misdirection are: Customers and innovators do not speak the same language, with customers making vague statements of what they need without providing the innovators the specific requirements necessary to guide their efforts; Customers typically do not know what innovations are possible and focus on surface features rather than fundamental design of products or services; And customers often do not really know what they need. This mismatch between the customer and innovator results in innovation errors, development of unwanted products, and poor market segmentation decisions.
The solution is move the focus from customer-expressed needs and wants to innovator-determination of the jobs customers are not doing well or not doing at all. This requires the innovator in the enterprise to become experts in the jobs potential customers need done well and use that expertise in development of the products and services to achieve that objective and create true customer value.
This approach to defining the objectives of the enterprise innovation efforts also changes the focus of market segmentation. Rather than the traditional artificial segmentation criteria of product type, price point, or other psycho-graphic and demographic characteristics, the outcome-oriented approach will segment customers by outcomes different customers are trying to achieve and making it easier to get a particular job done more effectively. This re-focusing of the market segments will expose new market opportunities in broader markets and new avenues for growth.